In closing arguments of the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell, the British socialite accused of serving up underage girls to be sexually abused by the late sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, attorneys on both sides went fully scorched-earth.
“Maxwell was a sophisticated predator who knew exactly what she was doing,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Alison Moe told jurors in New York federal court on Monday, the New York Daily News reported. “She caused deep and lasting damage to young girls. It is time to hold her accountable.”
“Epstein could not have done this alone,” Moe added, according to Reuters. “When that man is accompanied by a posh, smiling, respectable, age-appropriate woman, that’s when everything starts to seem legitimate.”
Maxwell’s defense team vigorously pushed back against that version of events, calling her an “innocent woman” being made to pay for Epstein’s “sins.”
“We are not here to defend Jeffrey Epstein,” said Maxwell attorney Laura Menninger, Reuters reported. “The government in this case has now pivoted because Epstein's not here and they said, ‘Her too, her too.’”
Maxwell, 59, is facing six charges related to sex trafficking connected to activity in the 1990s and early 2000s. Prosecutors have argued it was her job to recruit and groom girls for Epstein to prey upon. Maxwell has pleaded not guilty and generally denied all wrongdoing.
If convicted on all counts, she could spend the rest of her life behind bars.
The trial, once predicted to stretch on for six weeks, instead ended after four. Maxwell declined to testify in her own defense, saying that there was no need as the government hadn’t proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt. In the closing arguments, which lasted nearly all of Monday, the prosecution and defense highlighted the allegations and themes that had dominated the trial.
The exact nature of of the relationship between Maxwell and Epstein, who died of suicide while in custody in summer 2019, has hung over the proceedings. While the defense has insisted that Epstein compartmentalized his life and manipulated Maxwell, prosecutors have shown jurors photos that suggest Maxwell and Epstein were romantically involved for years. On Monday, Moe called the two “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,” she said. “Jeffrey Epstein liked underage girls. He liked to touch underage girls. Maxwell knew it.”
Menninger, meanwhile, attacked Maxwell’s accusers for what she said were changing, inconsistent accounts, and questioned their motivations. She noted that accusers who took the stand received money from a fund meant to compensate survivors of Epstein’s abuse.
“If money was all they wanted, they would have walked away as soon as the check cleared,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Maurene Comey fired back during rebuttal. These women testified, Comey said, “for justice, for the hope that the defendant would be held accountable for her role in shattering their lives.”
The jury is set to start deliberations. Maxwell is also separately facing two perjury charges, but those charges are not being considered in this trial.