Closing arguments in Ghislaine Maxwell’s sex-trafficking trial began in federal court in Manhattan on Monday with a simple, chilling message.
“She was a grown woman who preyed on vulnerable kids,” prosecutor Alison Moe told jurors.
“She targeted a girl whose father had just died. She targeted a girl whose mother was an alcoholic. She targeted a girl with a single mom who was struggling to raise her daughters.
“Maxwell was a sophisticated predator who knew exactly what she was doing. She ran the same playbook again and again and again.”
The 59-year-old Briton was arrested in New Hampshire in July 2020 for alleged involvement in the sexual abuse of minor teenagers by Jeffrey Epstein, her longtime boyfriend.
The financier and convicted sex offender, who mixed with powerful associates including Prince Andrew and former presidents Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, was arrested in July 2019 for crimes against girls as young as 14. He killed himself in custody about a month later.
Maxwell pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Four of her siblings – Kevin, Isabel, Christine and Ian – attended court on Monday. As they approached the courthouse, they walked arm-in-arm. In court, they spoke with their sister in French.
As Moe detailed the allegations, Maxwell’s siblings appeared to look down much of the time. Maxwell sometimes scribbled notes.
“She manipulated her victims and she groomed them for sexual abuse,” Moe said. “She caused deep and lasting harm to young girls.”
Prosecutors say Maxwell’s romantic relationship with Epstein, from the early 1990s until the early 2000s, showed her complicity in his crimes.
“Maxwell and Epstein were partners,” Moe said. “They were partners in crime who sexually exploited young girls together.
“Ladies and gentlemen, when you’re with someone for 11 years, you know what they like. Jeffrey Epstein liked underage girls. He liked to touch underage girls. Maxwell knew it.”
Moe pointed to photos that showed Epstein and Maxwell with “doting looks … cheek-to-cheek, arms wrapped around each other”. She showed pictures of Maxwell and Epstein swimming naked and Maxwell “massaging his foot with her breasts”.
Maxwell was Epstein’s house manager.
“She managed all the details down to the lotion and the oils,” Moe said. “She was in on the whole thing.
“Remember that you see nothing, hear nothing, say nothing,” Moe added, referring to a manual Maxwell gave staff at Epstein’s mansion in Florida. “In that house, behind closed doors, Maxwell and Epstein were committing horrifying crimes.”
Moe recapped testimony from four accusers.
There was Jane, whom Epstein started to sexually abuse at age 14. She said Maxwell was sometimes present for, and participated in, his abuse.
“There were hands everywhere,” said Jane, who testified about group sexual encounters. She said she met Maxwell in summer 1994, while attending a youth arts camp in Michigan.
There was Carolyn, who also spoke under a pseudonym and was also 14 when Epstein started to abuse her. Once, before a massage, she said Maxwell “came in and felt my boobs and my hips and my buttocks and said … that I had a great body for Mr Epstein and his friends”. Carolyn said Virginia Giuffre, a longtime Maxwell and Epstein accuser, introduced her to them. Maxwell allegedly said: “You can bring her upstairs and show her what to do.”
Kate, another accuser to testify pseudonymously, said she was 17 when she met Maxwell in Paris around 1994. Not long after Maxwell introduced her to Epstein in London, she said, Maxwell called to say Epstein’s masseuse had canceled and could she give him a massage. Kate said Maxwell led her to Epstein, who initiated a sexual encounter. Kate said she saw Epstein, and had sexual encounters, several times over the next few years.
Another accuser, Annie Farmer, said she went to Epstein’s property at 16, in spring 1996. Maxwell, Annie said, said she wanted her to experience a massage.
“She said to get undressed and get [under] the sheet on the massage table, and I did … She pulled the sheet down and exposed my breasts, and started rubbing on my chest and on my upper breast.”
In court on Monday, Moe said: “They’re not all suffering from the same mass delusion. Being molested is not something you forget, ever. You remember an adult woman groping your breast. You remember a middle aged man touching your vagina. You remember feeling scared and frozen and trapped and confused.”
Moe contended that Maxwell’s willingness to procure girls stemmed from money. From 1999 to 2007, Epstein gave Maxwell around $30m, the court heard.
“You don’t give someone $30m unless they’re giving you exactly what you want, and what Epstein wanted was to touch underage girls,” Moe said. “When Maxwell took that money, she knew what it was for and now you do, too.”
Moe also pointed to a Maxwell’s “little black book with her victims’ names in it”.
Concluding after more than two hours, Moe told jurors: “When you consider all of the evidence, and use your common sense, you will reach the only version consistent with the evidence: Maxwell is guilty.”
Defense attorney Laura Menninger insisted the allegations against Maxwell were the “product of erroneous memories, manipulation, and money”.
“The money brought the accusers to the FBI with their personal injury lawyers sitting right there next to them.
“The government played you a montage of Epstein’s houses, his bank accounts, his artworks, his cars, his planes, his helicopters, his bank accounts, his message pads – just like a sensationalist tabloid would.”
When Epstein died, Menninger said, prosecutors “pivoted” to Maxwell.
Menninger also hit back against prosecutors’ portrayal of Maxwell as Epstein’s domineering No 2, claiming they attempted to make her “Cruella de Vil and the [Devil] Wears Prada all wrapped into one”.