Ghislaine Maxwell: All the key features of socialite’s case as she goes before jury
British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell moved to New York in 1991 where she became friends with paedophile financier Jeffrey Epstein – a relationship that in two days time brings her before a judge and jury
Ghislaine Maxwell is preparing to go before a jury ( Image: Getty Images)
- 07:02, 27 Nov 2021
When Ghislaine Maxwell enters the Thurgood Marshall United States Courthouse on Monday, it will be almost 30 years since she first made New York her home.
Then, in late 1991, she flew from London on Concorde, a luxury flight for a woman who was accustomed to high-living after being gifted an £80,000-a year tax haven trust fund income by her billionaire father Robert Maxwell.
Ghislaine was starting out on a glamorous life in the Big Apple, trying to leave behind her father’s bizarre drowning from his mega-yacht, named the Lady Ghislaine in her honour, a month earlier.
She was leaving behind a scandal: Robert, former proprietor of the Mirror, had appropriated £440million from the pension funds of 32,000 people.
It was a move that would bring her close to the paedophile financier Jeffrey Epstein, with whom she became inseparable.
Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell met after the socialite moved to New York in 1991 ( Image: Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
In two days time that relationship brings her before a judge and jury.
It will be one of the most anticipated criminal trials in US history.
Here we examine the key features of what will undoubtedly be a remarkable case…
Maxwell is charged with six offences relating to four alleged underage victims.
They are: one count of enticing a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, another of conspiracy to the same; transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, and conspiracy to the same; sex trafficking, and sex trafficking conspiracy.
She also faces two counts of perjury, which will be dealt with at a second trial.
The indictment against her covers the period from 1994 to 2004 and is primarily based on the testimony of four accusers.
One of them was only 14 years old when she claims she was first abused.
All but one of them is having her anonymity protected by the judge but they will give evidence in full view of the court and press gallery, and the jurors will know their identities.
Annie Farmer ( Image: Daily Record)
The witness who has given up her right to anonymity is American psychologist Annie Farmer.
She has already alleged Maxwell and Epstein sexually abused her when she was 16 while she was at his New Mexico mansion in 1996.
Annie alleges that Maxwell, whom she regarded as being like a “big sister”, pestered her to accept a message, after which Epstein walked in and sexually assaulted her.
She has described Maxwell as a “sexual predator” who has “never shown any remorse for her heinous crimes”.
One of the accusers, known as “Minor Victim 4”, is set to disclose the existence of two new under-age victims, according to the pre-trial court papers.
Another woman likely to be called by prosecutors is Adriana Ross, 38, a former model who was known as Epstein’s “scheduler”. She was accused of clearing computers and contacts books from his Florida villa before a police raid in 2005.
Maxwell has set aside more than £5million to pay for her team of celebrated attorneys.
It includes Christian Everdell, a former federal prosecutor.
Everdell, right, helped bring down Sinaloa drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, an achievement for which he was given a True American Hero Award.
Christian Everdell, a former federal prosecutor
Sitting alongside him will be Mark S Cohen, another ex-federal prosecutor whose scalps include mob killer Thomas “Tommy Karate” Pitera.
Also on Team Maxwell is “super lawyer” Bobbi Sternheim, who has defended terrorists including Minh Quang Pham, who was jailed in 2016 for plotting to blow up Heathrow.
But the team are up against the formidable US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, with a team of prosecutors who have themselves won many groundbreaking cases.
US prosecutors claim a contacts book belonging to Maxwell, which contains names of her alleged victims, provides “compelling evidence of her guilt”.
Labelled Government Exhibit 52, the 97-page version of Epstein’s infamous contacts list is regarded by prosecutors as a possible smoking gun.
According to court papers it was seen in Maxwell’s office and contains “contact information for victims who interacted with the defendant during the relevant time period”.
Palm Beach house of Jeffrey Epstein ( Image: Daily Mirror/Andy Stenning)
Maxwell’s defence team describe the book as “an unauthenticated hearsay document from suspect sources”.
Prosecutors also want to put before the jury a manual for staff at Maxwell and Epstein’s former Florida home, where girls were allegedly abused.
“It directs employees to ‘see nothing, hear nothing, say nothing’,” prosecutors have argued.
The proceedings in Manhattan are expected to last about six weeks, with a pause over the Christmas weekend, when Maxwell turns 60.
The Oxford graduate, who denies all the charges, will almost certainly die in jail if she is convicted on all six charges. She is facing up to 80 years in prison.
Ghislaine Maxwell’s older brother Ian has vowed that at least one of her six siblings will attend court each day to provide “moral support and comfort”.
Ian, 65, said recently: “It’s absolutely essential … that Ghislaine is supported and is seen to be supported by her family. She’s on trial for her life.”
Ian believes his sister, who has repeatedly been refused bail since her arrest in July last year, is paying for the failure of the US authorities to bring Epstein to court. He called her “the perfect patsy for Epstein”.
Maxwell with her six living siblings in June 2019 ( Image: Maxwell Family via Good Morning America)
Both he and his brother Kevin, 62, plan to fly from London to New York to attend as many days of the trial as they can.
Their twin sisters, Isabel and Christine Maxwell, 71, live in the US and are likely to be present too.
Maxwell’s husband of five years, millionaire tech entrepreneur Scott Borgerson, 44, has kept a low profile since her arrest.
Ian says many of his sister’s high-flying friends have shunned her because they are scared of being associated with the crimes she is accused of.
The final jury selection process starts on Monday.
Lawyers will question 60 potential jurors face to face.
Those 60 were whittled down from an initial 600.
Thurgood Marshall United States Courthouse in Manhattan ( Image: AFP via Getty Images)
Maxwell has long complained she is now so notorious that she can never have a fair trial.
One question candidates have been asked is whether they have strong views on people with “luxurious lifestyles”.
Many people have been eliminated as possible jurors because of how they replied.
She has been on remand at the Manhattan Detention Center in New York since shortly after her arrest in July 2020.
Brother Ian says she is being held in a tiny cell with a concrete bed, no natural light, a toilet and a sink with brown water.
Manhattan Detention Complex Metropolitan Correction Center ( Image: Alamy Stock Photo)
She is under 24hr surveillance, over fears she could kill herself, like Epstein.
Her lawyers claim her hair is falling out and she is losing weight. Trial Judge Alison Nathan has rejected four bail applications, seeing her as a flight risk.
17 year old Virginia Roberts photographed with Prince Andrew and Maxwell in early 2001
If Maxwell goes before the jury on the witness stand, she will answer questions under oath.
She would probably be asked questions about allegations of sexual misconduct surrounding Jeffrey Epstein and his royal friend Prince Andrew.
Her legal team might decide this strategy is too risky – but there is nothing to prevent prosecution witnesses accusing Prince Andrew.