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Ghislaine Maxwell sex abuse trial jury in New York resumes deliberations

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By Reuters
Ghislaine Maxwell sex abuse trial jury in New York to resume deliberations
Ghislaine Maxwell sex abuse trial jury in New York to resume deliberations   -   Copyright  Thomson Reuters 2021

By Luc Cohen

NEWYORK -Jurors in British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell’s sex abuse trial resumed deliberations on Wednesday, having reviewed testimony from women who accused her of setting them up as teenagers for sexual encounters with financier Jeffrey Epstein.

During the three-week trial in New York, the jurors heard emotional and explicit accounts from four women who placed Maxwell at the center of their abuse by Epstein, her former boyfriend and employer who died by suicide in a jail cell in 2019 at the age of 66 while awaiting trial on sex abuse charges.

Maxwell’s lawyers sought to undermine the women’s credibility and questioned them aggressively about why their stories appeared to shift over the years.

Deliberations began late on Monday afternoon following closing arguments.

Maxwell, 59, is accused of recruiting and grooming teenage girls for Epstein between 1994 and 2004. She has pleaded not guilty to six counts of sex trafficking and other crimes. She also faces two perjury charges that will be tried separately.

Along with the trials of movie producer Harvey Weinstein and singer R. Kelly, Maxwell’s case is among the highest-profile trials to take place in the wake of the #MeToo movement, which encouraged women to speak out about sexual abuse by famous and powerful people.

On Tuesday jurors requested the transcripts of testimony from three of the women who testified. Later they asked for more details related to Carolyn, who said she was 14 in 2002 when Epstein first abused her and that Maxwell once touched her nude body while she prepared to give Epstein an erotic massage.

Carolyn’s case underlies the sex trafficking charge Maxwell faces, the most serious of the six counts, with a possible sentence of up to 40 years.

Maxwell’s attorney Jeffrey Pagliuca pressed Carolyn on why she did not mention Maxwell in a 2007 interview with the FBI or a lawsuit she filed against Epstein in 2009.

Maxwell’s defense has also argued that prosecutors are scapegoating her because Epstein is no longer alive.