The long-awaited trial of Ghislaine Maxwell, who is facing six sex-trafficking charges, is due to start in New York on Monday.
The charges involve four alleged underage victims and multiple locations over a 10-year period between 1994 and 2004. The youngest alleged victim was 14 years old at the time.
Maxwell also faces two counts of perjury which will be tried separately.
She denies all the charges and has pleaded not guilty.
Jeffrey Epstein, the wealthy financier and convicted sex offender, is at the heart of all the allegations. Prosecutors claim Maxwell “assisted, facilitated, and contributed” to Epstein’s abuse, which largely took the form of sexualised massages.
They argue Maxwell encouraged alleged victims to travel to Epstein’s residences across the US knowing that it “would result in their grooming for and subjection to sexual abuse”.
The defendant is also accused of taking part in group sex with Epstein and one alleged victim.
Epstein died in a New York jail in 2019 in an apparent suicide. He was awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges.
The Epstein-Maxwell relationship
In the 24-page indictment, the government claims that Maxwell was in an “intimate relationship” with Epstein between 1994 and 1997, and that for a longer period (1994-2004) he paid her to manage his properties.
The alleged victims
In the US, alleged victims of sexual abuse are not automatically entitled to lifelong anonymity as in the UK. However the judge in the Maxwell trial has decided that all four alleged victims will be able to use a pseudonym or just their first name. Judge Alison Nathan said this would avoid press intrusion and personal embarrassment.
- Alleged Victim 1 – (1994-1997) – New York and Palm Beach, Florida
The first alleged victim was about 14 years old when, according to prosecutors, she first met Maxwell.
Maxwell is accused of grooming the young woman by taking her shopping and to the cinema, normalising abuse by undressing in front of her, and being present and involved in some of Epstein’s abuse.
The government claims this took place in Epstein’s New York townhouse and at his mansion in Palm Beach, Florida, and that the alleged victim was encouraged to travel between Mr Epstein’s residences.
- Alleged Victim 2 – (1996) – New Mexico
The second alleged victim was under 18 when she was flown to Epstein’s New Mexico ranch at his invitation, prosecutors claim. They argue Maxwell knew the woman was under 18 and groomed her with shopping and cinema trips, and by discussing her school classes.
Maxwell is accused of giving the woman an unsolicited massage while the alleged victim was topless, and encouraging her to massage Epstein.
- Alleged Victim 3 – (1994-1995) – London
Maxwell is accused of befriending the third alleged underage victim in London, and grooming her by asking about her life and family. Prosecutors claim Ms Maxwell introduced the woman to Epstein and encouraged her to give him massages, knowing that this would result in sexual abuse.
The location of the alleged abuse is not in the United States, but under US law crimes committed outside the country can be charged within it if the victim or victims are American citizens. The bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in August 1998, for example, were prosecuted and tried in a Manhattan federal court.
We therefore presume Alleged Victim 3 is an American citizen.
- Alleged Victim 4 – (2001-2004) – Palm Beach, Florida
The fourth alleged victim lived in Florida and prosecutors claim she was about 14 years old when she was recruited to give Epstein sexualised massages for money at his Palm Beach mansion.
Maxwell is accused of grooming her by asking about her family, and normalising the abuse by discussing sexual topics and being present when the alleged victim was nude in Epstein’s massage room.
The government says Maxwell was among a number of Epstein employees who phoned the woman to schedule sexualised massages, paid her hundreds of dollars in cash and encouraged her to recruit other young females.
Prosecutors argue Maxwell and others on Epstein’s payroll sent the woman gifts, including lingerie. They also allege Ms Maxwell invited her to travel with Mr Epstein and help her apply for a passport – both offers were declined.
The six sex-trafficking charges relate to allegations across 10 years as detailed above, but in some cases they are linked to particular alleged victims:
1) Conspiracy to Entice Minors to Travel to Engage in Illegal Sex Acts – The first of the three conspiracy charges concerns all four alleged victims and focuses on the defendant allegedly encouraging them to travel so they could be abused. To prove ‘conspiracy’, prosecutors need to convince the jury that Maxwell and Epstein had an agreement to commit the crimes.
The government says Maxwell took part in group sex with Alleged Victim 1 and Epstein in New York and Florida, and encouraged her to travel between the two so she could be abused by Epstein.
They argue Maxwell gave Alleged Victim 2 an unsolicited massage, and encouraged Alleged Victim 3 to massage Epstein knowing she would be sexually abused.
Prosecutors argue Maxwell encouraged Alleged Victim 4 to travel outside of Florida with Epstein.
2) Enticement of a Minor to Travel to Engage in Illegal Sex Acts – Travel is again important here. The government says that Maxwell did “persuade, induce, entice, and coerce” Alleged Victim 1 to travel from Florida to New York so that the young woman could have sex with Epstein.
3) Conspiracy to Transport Minors with Intent to Engage in Criminal Sexual Activity – The second conspiracy charge also involves all four alleged victims, and touches on similar allegations to the first conspiracy charge.
Prosecutors claim Maxwell took part in group sex with Alleged Victim 1 and Epstein in New York and Florida on multiple occasions. They say that Maxwell “enticed” her to travel from Florida to New York so this abuse could take place.
Maxwell is also accused of giving Alleged Victim 2 an unsolicited massage in New Mexico when the young woman was topless.
Prosecutors say Maxwell encouraged Alleged Victim 3 to give Epstein massages knowing she would be abused.
They also claim the defendant encouraged Alleged Victim 4 to travel outside of Florida with Epstein.
4) Transportation of a Minor with Intent to Engage in Criminal Sexual Activity – This charge mainly focuses on Alleged Victim 1. Maxwell is accused of arranging for her to travel from Florida to New York multiple times so Epstein could sexually abuse her.
5) Sex Trafficking Conspiracy – This charge largely concerns Alleged Victim 4. Maxwell is accused of recruiting her, encouraging her to recruit others, enticing her to engage in sexual acts with Epstein, scheduling her massages, sending her gifts and paying her hundreds of dollars in cash.
6) Sex Trafficking of a Minor – Alleged Victim 4 is partly the focus here. Prosecutors say the defendant “recruited, enticed, harboured, transported, provided, and obtained individuals who were less than 18 years old” to have sex with Epstein.
Maxwell is also facing two charges of perjury (lying under oath) for which she will be tried separately. Both charges relate to a 2016 deposition, when Maxwell was questioned out of court but under oath about Epstein. Prosecutors allege she “repeatedly lied” in an effort to “conceal her crimes”.
7) Perjury – When asked if she was aware of a scheme to recruit underage women for sexual massages with Epstein, Maxwell replied: “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
She was asked to “list all the people under the age of 18 that you interacted with at any of Epstein’s properties”, and responded that apart from a 17-year-old linked to the deposition: “I’m not aware of anybody that I interacted with”.
8) Perjury – Maxwell said under oath she did not “recall” whether Epstein possessed sex toys. She also claimed she was unaware of Epstein having sex in the 1990s and 2000s with anyone apart from her, and two women with whom they had threesomes. Ms Maxwell also denied ever giving anyone a massage:
Q – Is it your testimony that you’ve never given anybody a massage?
A – I have not given anyone a massage.
Q – You never gave Epstein a massage, is that your testimony?
A – That is my testimony.