Ghislaine Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein ‘partners in crime’ in sexual abuse pyramid scheme, court hears

‘The lady of the house’ targeted underage girls from broken homes and groomed them with money, gifts and promises of a bright future, court hears

Justin Vallejo
New York
Monday 29 November 2021 22:21
Sarah Ransome arrives to court ahead of Ghislaine Maxwell trial
Leer en Español

The trial of Ghislaine Maxwell began with prosecutors arguing the British socialite was a “partner in crime” to convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein in a “pyramid scheme” of sexual abuse.

In her opening statement, Assistant US Attorney Lara Elizabeth Pomerantz said Ms Maxwell found and targeted young girls from broken homes for Epstein to sexually abuse under the guise of “massages”.

They figured out what the girls wanted, promised the world, and bought them into their “pyramid scheme of abuse” to bring in more girls with the promise of a cash reward, Ms Pomerantz alleged.

The court also heard that the pilot of Epstein’s private jets would be raised during the trial, hinting at possible testimony from the flights to the convicted paedophile’s various properties around the world.

Ms Maxwell, 59, is accused of grooming four underage girls between 1994 and 2004 and flying them to Epstein’s Palm Beach mansion. Some of the abuses are also alleged to have occurred at his Manhattan townhouse, a ranch in New Mexico, an apartment in Paris, and on his estate in the Virgin Islands.

Ms Pomerantz told jurors that beyond just helping Epstein find the girls, Ms Maxwell sometimes participated by touching their bodies and even when she wasn’t in the room knew exactly what was being done to them.

“She preyed on vulnerable young girls, manipulated them, and served them up to be sexually abused," Ms Pomerantz said in the prosecution’s opening statement.

Ms Maxwell was involved in “every detail of Epstein’s life when they enticed girls as young as 14 to the so-called massages in which sex in exchange for money and gifts became “casual and normal”.

“She was in on it from the start. The defendant and Epstein lured their victims with a promise of a bright future, only to sexually exploit them,” Ms Pomerantz said. “The defendant was the lady of the house,” she added.

Ms Maxwell took notes and conferred with her lawyers throughout the trial’s first day. She has pleaded not guilty to eight charges of sex trafficking.

In the defence team’s opening statement, attorney Bobbi Sternheim told the court that the death of Epstein left Ms Maxwell to fill a “gaping hole” in the pursuit of justice for the women who accuse him of sexual abuse.

Ms Sternheim also compared Ms Maxwell the mother of all humankind from the Biblical story of the creation, saying women have been blamed, villainized and punished more for the bad behaviour of men ever since “Eve was accused of tempting Adam for the apple”.

“I said before Epstein was a manipulator… but he was also a mysterious man without attachment. He had no wife. He had no children. And he had no boss. Yet he attracted all these rich and powerful people before and after his fall from grace back around 2008,” according to Court House News.

“In many regards, he was like a 21st-century James Bond. His mystery has stirred interest.”

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in