Ghislaine Maxwell allegedly 'served up' girls for Epstein to abuse
British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell preyed on underage girls for convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein to abuse, prosecutors alleged on Monday. The statement came as Maxwell's trial on sex trafficking charges began in a court in New York. The defense, on the other hand, said she is being blamed for Epstein's crimes in the wake of his death. Here are more details on this.
Why does this story matter?
Maxwell, once a longtime companion of Epstein, faces up to 80 years in prison if convicted. Her trial is expected to last six weeks in New York. She has been lodged in a jail in the United States since her arrest last year and has pleaded not guilty to eight charges relating to sex trafficking and other crimes.
'Partners in crime'
Prosecutors claimed Maxwell and Epstein were "partners in crime." "She preyed on vulnerable young girls, manipulated them, and served them up to be sexually abused," Assistant District Attorney Lara Pomerantz said. "Sometimes she was even in the room for the massages herself...Even when she was not in the room, make no mistake, she knew exactly what Epstein was going to do to those children."
Defense attorney says Maxwell is a 'target'
Meanwhile, Maxwell's lawyer Bobbi Sternheim said the socialite is being made a scapegoat for "a man who behaved badly." "Women have been blamed for the bad behavior of men and women are often villainized and punished more than the men ever are. The charges against Ghislaine Maxwell are for things that Jeffrey Epstein did. But she is not Jeffrey Epstein," the lawyer argued.
What are the charges against Maxwell?
The accusations against Maxwell relate to a 10-year period between 1994 and 2004. Charges include sex trafficking conspiracy and sex trafficking of a minor. Four women who allegedly suffered at the hands of Epstein and Maxwell are the key witnesses in the trial. Two of them say they were just 14 and 15 years old when the alleged sexual abuse took place.
Epstein killed himself a month after arrest
Epstein was an American financier. He was arrested in July 2019 in New Jersey for involvement in sexual abuse and trafficking of dozens of girls around the world. He died by suicide a month later while in jail. In July 2020, Maxwell was arrested and accused of helping Epstein in sexually abusing minor girls.