Prosecution gives scathing closing argument in Ghislaine Maxwell trial
By Lauren del Valle, CNN
(CNN) -- Ghislaine Maxwell manipulated and enticed vulnerable girls as an accomplice in Jeffrey Epstein's extensive abuse scheme, a prosecutor said during closing arguments of Maxwell's federal trial Monday.
Maxwell, 59, has pleaded not guilty to six federal counts, including sex trafficking of minors, enticing a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity and three related counts of conspiracy.
If convicted on all six counts, she faces up to 70 years in prison.
"Maxwell and Epstein were a wealthy couple who used their privilege to prey on kids from struggling families," prosecutor Alison Moe said Monday.
"The way that they selected these girls tells you that they were targeting vulnerable kids. It is not an accident that Jane and Kate and Annie and Carolyn all came from single-mother households."
The prosecutor said Maxwell knew Epstein's preference for underage girls and helped satisfy that need.
"When you're with someone for 11 years, you know what they like. Epstein liked underaged girls. He liked to touch underaged girls. Maxwell knew it. Make no mistake, Maxwell was crucial to the whole scheme. Epstein could not have done this alone," Moe said.
Maxwell normalized physical touch and sexuality to the alleged victims she groomed for Epstein, the prosecution argued.
"A single middle-aged man who invites a teenage girl to visit his ranch, to come to his house, to fly to New York, is creepy," Moe told jurors.
"But when that man is accompanied by a posh, smiling, respectable, age-appropriate woman, that's when everything starts to seem legitimate. And when that woman encourages those girls to massage that man, when she acts like it's totally normal for the man to touch those girls. It lures them into a trap. It allows the man to silence the alarm bells."
Jurors again saw pages from Epstein and Maxwell's "little black book with their victims' names in it" recovered from Jeffrey Epstein's home.
One page titled "Massages Florida" had notes "Mom," "dad," and "parents" next to some females' names.
"When you contact a professional masseuse you don't need to call her mom or dad," Moe said.
Maxwell's defense team is expected to make its closing argument Monday afternoon.
'Pyramid scheme of abuse'
During opening statements last month, prosecutors said Maxwell and Epstein used cash to lure underage girls into their "pyramid scheme of abuse."
Prosecutor Lara Pomerantz told jurors that in the 1990s, Maxwell would procure girls for Epstein for sexual abuse via the "ruse" of a massage.
Epstein, who pleaded guilty in 2008 to state prostitution charges, was indicted on federal sex trafficking charges in July 2019 but died by suicide in prison a month later. Maxwell was arrested in 2020.
Four key witnesses testified for the prosecution against Maxwell -- all women who allege Epstein sexually abused them when they were under 18. Three of the four accusers used pseudonyms or only first names to protect their privacy.
"Jane" testified that Maxwell sometimes joined in on the sexualized massages.
"Kate" testified Maxwell set up those sexual meetings.
Carolyn testified Maxwell once touched her breasts, hips and butt and told her she "had a great body for Epstein and his friends." Carolyn said she was 14 at the time.
The fourth woman, Annie Farmer, testified she was 16 years old when Maxwell massaged her naked chest at Epstein's New Mexico ranch in 1996.
Two dozen witnesses were called across 10 days of testimony before the prosecution rested. In photos shown to jurors, Maxwell and Epstein are seen embracing and smiling for the camera over the years, including several showing her massaging his foot.
"Their relevance is self-apparent, given the contents of the photographs," prosecutor Alison Moe said. "The relationship between Maxwell and Epstein is central to this case."
Defense rested Friday
The defense rested Friday after presenting its case over two days. The defense argued that Maxwell is being scapegoated for Epstein's criminal behavior and tried to dispute the accusers' statements.
Attorneys called to the stand Eva Andersson-Dubin, who testified she dated Epstein on and off from 1983 through about 1991. She confirmed she and her now-husband, hedge fund billionaire Glenn Dubin, remained friends with Epstein through the 2000s.
One of the accusers, referred to as "Jane," had earlier testified she recalled a woman named Eva had joined group sexualized massages with Epstein and Maxwell.
In response to questioning by the defense, Andersson-Dubin said she had never participated in group sexualized massages with "Jane."
"Absolutely not," Andersson-Dubin testified Friday.
A prosecutor clarified on cross-examination that Eva Andersson-Dubin is not necessarily the only Eva to have ever interacted with Epstein, suggesting "Jane" could have been referring to someone else.
On Thursday, as part of the defense's effort to undermine the accusers' testimony, a psychologist and professor at the University of California Irvine testified about false memories.
Dr. Elizabeth Loftus said people can be exposed to misinformation about an event after the fact and incorporate it into their memory, making it inaccurate.
"Even traumatic experiences can be subjected to post-event suggestion that can exaggerate, distort or change the memory," Loftus said.
Maxwell declined to testify Friday, telling Judge Alison Nathan when asked if she understood her rights: "Your honor, the government has not proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt. And so there is no need for me to testify." The jury was not present.
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