Maxwell to challenge accusers, seek distance from Epstein at sex abuse trial


NEW YORK, Nov 23 (Reuters) – British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell’s protection in her sex abuse trial will give attention to undermining her accusers and distancing her from Jeffrey Epstein, the financier for whom she is charged with recruiting underage ladies, in accordance to authorized consultants and court docket filings.

In what’s considered by some authorized consultants as a dangerous technique within the post-#MeToo period, Maxwell’s attorneys will query the credibility of 4 ladies who say she groomed them as youngsters for Epstein to abuse from the Nineties to the early 2000s, arguing that their recollections are defective or that they’re mendacity due to monetary incentives. They have stated in a court docket submitting that one lady was motivated by a “desire for cash.”

Epstein died by suicide at 66 in a Manhattan jail cell in 2019 whereas awaiting trial on sex abuse costs.

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“[Maxwell’s lawyers] want to say the real villain is no longer around to be prosecuted, so they’re using her as a scapegoat,” stated Laurie Levenson, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.

Jury choice is underway in Manhattan federal court docket for Maxwell’s trial, with opening statements scheduled for Nov. 29.

Maxwell has pleaded not responsible to eight costs together with sex trafficking.

Her attorneys have argued that prosecutors, unable to convict Epstein due to his demise, are in search of to “substitute” Maxwell so as to maintain somebody accountable.

“Left with no fish to attempt to fry, the government belatedly turned to Ms. Maxwell,” her attorneys wrote in a Feb. 4 submitting.

The workplace of U.S. Attorney Damian Williams in Manhattan, which is prosecuting the case towards Maxwell, declined to remark. Maxwell’s attorneys didn’t reply to requests for remark.

Jeffrey Pagliuca, a lawyer for Maxwell, stated at a Nov. 10 listening to that the protection would query the ladies who say they have been abused about why they waited so a few years to come ahead.

Two of the ladies – Annie Farmer and one other who will testify below a pseudonym – didn’t accuse Maxwell of wrongdoing till lengthy after Epstein’s alleged abuses, in accordance to Maxwell’s protection.

A diary Farmer stored within the Nineties describing interactions with Epstein didn’t point out Maxwell, and the unidentified witness stated nothing about Maxwell till June when prosecutors confirmed her {a photograph}, the attorneys stated.


The protection will partially depend on the knowledgeable testimony of Elizabeth Loftus, a psychologist who research how recollections can change into distorted over time.

There are dangers for the protection crew, some attorneys stated, significantly because the #MeToo motion through which ladies accused highly effective males of sexual harassment and abuse.

“Victim shaming … doesn’t work especially now in 2021, and it usually hurts you,” stated Zachary Margulis-Ohnuma, a New York protection lawyer who focuses on sex crimes circumstances. “You have to show the utmost empathy in my opinion to people who have been victimized.”

Maxwell’s protection additionally has indicated that they intend to argue the ladies are belatedly accusing Maxwell due to the potential for a payout.

All 4 accusers have accepted fee from a victims’ compensation fund established by Epstein’s property, Maxwell’s attorneys stated in a court docket submitting.

“The motive for fabrication could not be clearer,” Laura Menninger, one other Maxwell lawyer, wrote in reference to a civil lawsuit Farmer filed towards Epstein’s property. Farmer dropped that case when she sought compensation from the victims’ fund.

“Her newly asserted memories of abuse – without corroboration – are not based on the truth or a desire for ‘justice’ so much as her desire for cash.”

Lawyers for Farmer didn’t reply to a request for remark.

Legal consultants stated that the prosecution wouldn’t have introduced the case except they’d believed the ladies may stand up to assaults on their credibility.

“I don’t think they go after her unless they have these women able to really put her in the crosshairs, and to situate her at the center of this,” stated Deborah Tuerkheimer, a professor at Northwestern University’s Pritzker School of Law in Chicago.

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Reporting by Luc Cohen in New York;
Editing by Noeleen Walder and Grant McCool

REUTERS/Jane Rosenberg

Ghislaine Maxwell makes eye contact with her sister during jury selection in the trial of Maxwell, Jeffrey Epstein's associate accused of sex trafficking, in a courtroom sketch in New York City, U.S., November 17, 2021. REUTERS/Jane Rosenberg

Ghislaine Maxwell sits with her lawyers during jury selection in the trial of Maxwell, Jeffrey Epstein's associate accused of sex trafficking, in a courtroom sketch in New York City, U.S., November 17, 2021. REUTERS/Jane Rosenberg