Ghislaine Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein were ‘partners in crime’: prosecutors

Ghislaine Maxwell and powerful pedophile Jeffrey Epstein were “partners in crime” and she was an “essential” part of his scheme to prey on underage girls, prosecutors charged Monday, the first day of the accused madam’s hotly anticipated trial.

The feds began laying out their case against the fallen 59-year-old British socialite, charging that she coaxed and manipulated children to satisfy Epstein’s sick sexual desires and secure her position of wealth and power.

“The defendant and Epstein lured their victims with the promise of a brighter future — only to sexually exploit them and forever change their lives,” Assistant US Attorney Lara Pomerantz told jurors in Manhattan federal court.

Maxwell — who has been locked up since her July 2020 arrest — stands accused of helping Epstein to “recruit, groom and ultimately abuse” girls as young as 14, according to the indictment against her.

“For a decade, the defendant played an essential role in this scheme,” Pomerantz continued. “She knew exactly what she was doing. She was dangerous. She was setting young girls up to be molested by a predator. That’s what we expect the evidence will show.

“She was in on it from the start.”

Ghislaine Maxwell embraces her defense lawyers after entering the courtroom for the start of her trial.
Ghislaine Maxwell embraces her defense lawyers after entering the courtroom for the start of her trial.

The six counts Maxwell faces — including sex-trafficking of minors — stem from the allegations of four women who say they were abused by Epstein and Maxwell between 1994 and 2004 when they were teenagers.

“What she didn’t know then was that this man and woman were predators,” Pomerantz said, referring to one of the young accusers. “This meeting was the beginning of that man and woman targeting Jane for sexual abuse that would last for years.”

Prosecutors allege that Maxwell, the youngest child of late publishing tycoon Robert Maxwell, groomed the teens knowing they would be preyed on by her ex-boyfriend and best buddy — and even took part in the abuse.

Defense attorney Bobbi Sternheim gives her opening statement at the start of Ghislaine Maxwell's trial on charges of sex trafficking.Defense attorney Bobbi Sternheim gives her opening statement at the start of Ghislaine Maxwell's trial on charges of sex trafficking.
Defense attorney Bobbi Sternheim gives her opening statement at the start of Ghislaine Maxwell’s trial on charges of sex trafficking.

Pomerantz detailed how Maxwell and Epstein allegedly devised a ruse to lure teen girls to “massage rooms” in several of his homes.

“What was happening inside those massage rooms was not a massage, it was sexual abuse,” the prosecutor said.

Pomerantz said Epstein “touched the teenage girls’ vaginas with a massage device, or vibrator,” and at times masturbated. He also groped them and sexually assaulted them.

Ghislaine Maxwell speaks with defense attorney Bobbi SternheimGhislaine Maxwell speaks with defense attorney Bobbi Sternheim
Ghislaine Maxwell speaks with defense attorney Bobbi Sternheim.

As Pomerantz described the abuse inflicted on the alleged victims, she warned jurors about the graphic, disturbing nature of their expected testimony.

“I know this is hard to hear, but these are the facts of the case. This is what happened to these children,” she said.

Set to testify are the four alleged victims, as well as former employees of Epstein, who killed himself in 2019 while awaiting trial on federal sex-trafficking charges.

US Marshals escorted Maxwell, who wore a cream sweater and black pants, into the courtroom at around 8:30 a.m.

Isabel Maxwell the sister  of Ghislaine Maxwell arrives at the Thurgood Marshall United States Courthouse on November 29Isabel Maxwell the sister  of Ghislaine Maxwell arrives at the Thurgood Marshall United States Courthouse on November 29
Isabel Maxwell, sister of Ghislaine Maxwell, arrives at court on November 29.

The start of her trial drew a mass of media, who arrived at dawn in an effort to snag a seat inside the courtroom or in one of the overflow rooms equipped with live video and audio feeds of the proceedings.

Joining them were members of the public, including alleged victims of the depraved duo like Sarah Ransome, who sued them both in 2017 for forcing her into sex acts in 2006 and 2007, when she was in her 20s. Her federal lawsuit was settled a year later.

“I never thought this day would come,” Ransome told reporters outside the courthouse Monday morning.

Ghislaine Maxwell's sister Isabel Maxwell exiting the court on November 29, 2021.Ghislaine Maxwell's sister Isabel Maxwell exiting the court on November 29, 2021.
Ghislaine Maxwell’s sister Isabel Maxwell exiting the court on November 29, 2021.

One of Maxwell’s three sisters, Isabel, and Lisa Bloom, the attorney representing some of Epstein’s alleged victims, were also spotted arriving at the Lower Manhattan courthouse.

“We encourage everyone to allow the evidence to unfold in court and to exercise restraint and respect for the administration of criminal justice,” Maxwell’s siblings tweeted from their joint account @RealGhislaine on Monday morning.

Sarah Ransome, a victim of Jeffery Epstein arrives for the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell at the Thurgood Marshall United States Courthouse on November 29, 2021.Sarah Ransome, a victim of Jeffery Epstein arrives for the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell at the Thurgood Marshall United States Courthouse on November 29, 2021.
Sarah Ransome, a victim of Jeffery Epstein arrives for the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell at the Thurgood Marshall United States Courthouse on November 29, 2021.
Epstein accuser Sarah Ransome said she "never thought this day would come."Epstein accuser Sarah Ransome said she "never thought this day would come."
Epstein accuser Sarah Ransome said she “never thought this day would come.”

Inside the courtroom, the first order of business was to finalize jury selection: picking the 12 jurors and six alternates who will hear Maxwell’s case from a pool of 40 to 60 people who made it through initial questioning.

Sitting at the defense table, Maxwell appeared relaxed and exchanged many glances with her sister, who was sitting in the front row and at one point seemed to smile behind her mask.

Maxwell took frequent notes, sometimes handing them to her attorneys. She eyed the jurors as the prosecution delivered its opening statements.

About two dozen spectators were in the courtroom, including, for a time, US Attorney Damian Williams, who at one point sat up straight to get a good look at Maxwell.

Ghislaine Maxwell is accused of helping Epstein to "recruit, groom and ultimately abuse" girls as young as 14.Ghislaine Maxwell is accused of helping Epstein to "recruit, groom and ultimately abuse" girls as young as 14.
Ghislaine Maxwell is accused of helping Epstein to “recruit, groom and ultimately abuse” girls as young as 14.

The Oxford-educated blue blood has been held in a Brooklyn jail since she was arrested at a $1 million New Hampshire estate, to which she escaped following Epstein’s suicide in August 2019. She has denied the charges, and her attorneys have repeatedly claimed she’s being scapegoated for the government’s failure to bring Epstein to trial.

“Ghislaine is on trial here and you heard about the conduct of Jeffrey Epstein. She is filling that hole. And filling an empty chair,” said defense attorney Bobbi Sternheim in her opening statement, arguing that her client was a “convenient stand-in” for the dead sex offender.

Sternheim also took aim at the four alleged victims, claiming that the case would revolve around “memory, manipulation and money.”

“In many regards, he was like a 21st Century James Bond. His mystery has stirred interest,” she said about Epstein. “His accusers have shaken the money tree and millions of dollars have fallen their way.”

Audrey Strauss, acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, points to a photo of Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell, during a news conference in New York.Audrey Strauss, acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, points to a photo of Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell, during a news conference in New York.
Audrey Strauss, acting US attorney for the Southern District of New York, points to a photo of Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell, during a news conference in New York.

Until his July 2019 arrest, the sick financier had skirted federal sex-trafficking charges because of a secret 2008 deal with the Justice Department that allowed him to plead guilty to state charges in Florida instead and serve just 13 months in prison.

Maxwell, who holds American, French and British citizenship, has repeatedly been denied bail while awaiting trial. Her lawyers have argued that she has been subjected to horrific conditions in the Metropolitan Detention Center, including sexual abuse by guards during daily pat-down searches.

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