Ghislaine Maxwell trial: judge says she fears Omicron threatens case

“We are very simply in a different location from the pandemic compared to just a week ago and now face a high and growing risk that jurors and / or trial participants may need to quarantine,” thus disrupting the trial (and) endangering our ability to complete this trial, ”she said. “As a result, extending the deliberations by an hour gives the jury more time each day to continue to engage in their thoughtful deliberations.”

The judge said she would reconsider the matter later today if necessary, suggesting that further schedule changes could occur if the jury does not render a verdict soon.

“In light of the variant, with my concern about the trial being halted given the growing daily risk of exposure to a juror or trial participant requiring quarantine, it’s time to think about what jurors plan to deliberate until a verdict is reached, “Nathan said.

Maxwell, the former girlfriend and longtime partner of the late sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, has pleaded not guilty to six federal counts: sex trafficking a minor, inducing a minor to travel for the purpose of committing unlawful sexual acts, transporting a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity and three related counts of conspiracy.

If convicted on all six counts, Maxwell faces up to 70 years in prison.

Jurors deliberated for about an hour last Monday, every Tuesday and Wednesday, then returned after Christmas to deliberate on Monday. Meanwhile, they asked the court to provide the transcripts of the testimony of “Jane”, “Kate”, Carolyn and Annie Farmer – the four women whose allegations form the heart of the case against Maxwell.
The jury also requested transcripts of the testimony of four other witnesses: Juan Alessi, the manager of Maxwell’s house; “Matt”, Jane’s ex-boyfriend; Gregory Parkinson, the former Palm Beach Police crime scene manager who was present during the 2005 search of Epstein’s home in Palm Beach, Florida; and David Rogers, a pilot for Epstein and Maxwell.
Prosecutors presented a series of undated photos at trial showing Ghislaine Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein together.

On Monday morning, the jury asked for a definition of “inducement,” which is part of two of the counts. The judge wrote that the word meant “to attract, induce or attract using hope or desire”.

And during their afternoon deliberations, the jury sent a question to the judge about one of the charges. After a debate on how to answer, Judge Alison Nathan finally referred the jury to the jury charge instructions, telling parties in court that she did not know the meaning of the question and that it was “too much. difficult to analyze factually and legally what they are asking for. “

The deliberations crown a three-week trial highlighted by the testimony of the four women, who said Maxwell recruited and groomed them to be sexually assaulted by Epstein and sometimes participated in such abuse. The abuse allegedly started when they were under 18, and their charges ran from 1994 to 2004.
Epstein, an elusive financier who pleaded guilty in 2008 to prostitution charges, was indicted on federal sex trafficking charges in July 2019; he committed suicide in prison a month later. Maxwell, now 60, was arrested in 2020 and has since been held behind bars under strict surveillance.

What happened at the trial

The prosecution called 24 witnesses over 10 days of testimony. Their case was based primarily on four women with personal stories of her role in facilitating Epstein’s abuse.

Jane, testifying under a pseudonym, said Maxwell arranged for sex massages with Epstein and occasionally joined in the abuse. The charges of attraction and transport relate to testimony from her alone.
Carolyn testified that at the age of 14, Maxwell touched her breasts, hips and buttocks and told her that she “had a great body for Epstein and his friends.” The count of child sex trafficking – the most serious of all the charges – relates to his testimony.
Charges against Ghislaine Maxwell in her federal sex trafficking trial, explained
Kate testified that Maxwell invited her over and instructed her on how to give Epstein a sex massage. She said Maxwell often talked about sexual matters with her and asked Kate to invite other young girls over for Epstein’s sexual desires.
Farmer, the only accuser to testify by full name, said she was 16 when Maxwell massaged her bare chest at Epstein’s ranch in New Mexico in 1996.
Prosecutors have sought to bind Maxwell and Epstein closely and have said his actions to normalize sex massage are critical to his international program of abuse at his properties in New York City, Florida, New Mexico and the US Virgin Islands. .

“A middle-aged, single man who invites a teenage girl to visit his ranch, to come over to his house, to fly to New York, is scary,” said prosecutor Alison Moe in closing arguments. “But when this man is accompanied by a chic, smiling, respectable, age-appropriate woman, that’s when it all starts to feel legitimate.

“And when this woman encourages these girls to massage this man, when she acts like it’s just okay for the man to touch these girls, it lures them into a trap. It allows the man to silence the woman. alarm bell.”

The defense called nine witnesses over two days of testimony. Their case focused on lengthy cross-examinations of the four accusers, attacking their motives and their memories of the alleged incidents. Maxwell declined to testify in his own defense.

In closing arguments, lawyer Laura Menninger sought to keep Maxwell away from Epstein and suggested he had manipulated her as well. She said the prosecution case was based on speculation and embarrassing photos of Maxwell with Epstein, several of which showed her massaging his feet.

“She is on trial here for being with Jeffrey Epstein, and it was perhaps the biggest mistake of her life, but it was not a crime,” Menninger told the jury.

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