The defence team at Ghislaine Maxwell’s sex trafficking trial has finished presenting its case, with closing statements expected on Monday. What are the trial’s key moments so far?
The 59-year-old defendant, the daughter of a late British media tycoon, is accused of grooming teenage girls for abuse by the late Jeffrey Epstein.
She has pleaded not guilty to all the charges, which cover a period from 1994 to 2004.
The first fortnight of the trial heard emotional testimony from some of the alleged victims of Epstein and Ms Maxwell.
But this week her lawyers argued those testimonies were impacted by “[lapses in] memory, manipulation and money”.
They also alleged the government needed a scapegoat for the crimes of Epstein, who killed himself in prison in 2019.
Here are some key elements from the last three weeks.
‘False memory’ expert on the stand
University of California psychology professor Elizabeth Loftus, the defence’s star witness, told the jury that people can have “false memories” of traumatic events.
“[Memory] doesn’t work like a recording device,” she said. “We are actually constructing our memories while we retrieve memories.”
Media coverage can act as “a source of post-event suggestion” and those who recall memories “frequently remember ourselves in a better light than perhaps is accurate”, said Dr Loftus.
Ms Maxwell’s lawyers also brought in two FBI agents in an effort to show discrepancies between recent testimony by Ms Maxwell’s accusers and their past statements to law enforcement.
‘I looked up to her’
“I highly respected Ghislaine,” said her executive assistant Cimberly Espinosa, who served her from 1996 to 2003. “I looked up to her very much.”
She said she booked professional massages for both Epstein and Ms Maxwell, and testified that she never saw any child abuse take place.
Epstein’s former girlfriend of eight years, Eva Andersson-Dubin – a former physician and Miss Sweden winner – also took the stand on Ms Maxwell’s behalf.
The New York socialite and her hedge fund manager Glenn Dubin were named in the 2016 deposition of Virginia Giuffre, the most vocal Epstein accuser.
On the stand she denied having group sex with an underage accuser, but admitted to having memory problems.
Maxwell ‘preyed on vulnerable young girls’
In her opening statement, prosecutor Lara Pomerantz called Ms Maxwell a predator who recruited and groomed underage girls for her long-term companion Epstein to abuse.
“She preyed on vulnerable young girls, manipulated them, and served them up to be sexually abused,” the prosecutor said.
But the defence said Ms Maxwell was being scapegoated because Epstein was no longer alive.
“The charges against Ghislaine Maxwell are for things that Jeffrey Epstein did, but she is not Jeffrey Epstein,” her lawyer Bobbi Sternheim argued.
Defence accuse key accuser of acting scene
The first of four Maxwell accusers to give evidence at the trial cried as she described being sexually abused by Epstein when she was 14.
The woman, using the pseudonym Jane, said Ms Maxwell showed her how Epstein liked to be massaged, and sometimes took part in their sexual encounters.
“Ghislaine was very casual, acting like it wasn’t a big deal,” Jane said.
But Ms Maxwell’s defence sought to find inconsistencies in Jane’s testimony. Defence lawyer Laura Menninger pointed out that Jane now worked as an actress.
“You are an actor who convincingly portrays someone else for a living,” the lawyer stated. “You are able to cry on command.”
Employee ‘told not to look Epstein in the eye’
Epstein’s former housekeeper Juan Alessi recalled how Ms Maxwell had tightly controlled every detail in the financier’s Florida mansion.
Ms Maxwell was the “lady of the house”, ordering staff to speak only when spoken to and to avoid eye contact with Epstein, according to Mr Alessi, who said his job included cleaning their sex toys.
He said staff were given a 58-page instruction manual, warning them to keep Epstein’s and Ms Maxwell’s activities or whereabouts secret.
“I was supposed to be blind, deaf and dumb,” Mr Alessi told the court.
Ms Maxwell’s legal team sought to undermine the credibility of Mr Alessi during cross-examination, by challenging his recollection of meeting 14-year-old Jane in 1994.
Jurors shown Epstein’s massage table
The jury was shown a green massage table seized from Jeffrey Epstein’s Palm Beach mansion during a 2005 police raid.
Prosecutors have alleged that Epstein used massages as a “ruse” before escalating his encounters with young girls.
Michael Dawson, a detective who took part in the 2005 search, recalled how officers found a variety of sexualised images at Epstein’s home. Prosecutors also displayed a photo of a box labelled “Twin Torpedos”, which Det Dawson said contained sex toys and was taken from an upstairs cupboard.
Never-before-seen photos link Maxwell to Epstein
Prosecutors released a collection of digital photos and files to demonstrate how close Epstein and Ms Maxwell were.
Taken from an FBI raid on Epstein’s New York home in 2019, the evidence includes several pictures of the two together, sometimes embracing or being intimate with each other.
In one photo, the pair is seen relaxing at Balmoral Castle, the Queen’s private Scottish residence.
Photos of Ms Maxwell were also shown mounted in parts of Epstein’s Florida home. Another photo that shows her “nude and pregnant” allegedly hangs in the house, according to one of her accusers.
The collection also included a “help wanted” flyer for massage therapists in the area.
Maxwell ‘dressed accuser as schoolgirl for Epstein’
A British woman using the pseudonym Kate cried on the stand as she described sexual encounters with Epstein when she was 14.
Kate said Ms Maxwell sometimes took part and acted “like it wasn’t a big deal”, often calling her a “good girl” and asking if she was having fun.
On one occasion, Ms Maxwell allegedly laid out a schoolgirl outfit on her bed and said: “I thought it would be fun for you to take Jeffrey his tea in this outfit.”
She said she wore the outfit and Epstein had sex with her.
Ms Maxwell also asked if she knew any “cute, young, pretty girls” who could perform sex acts on Epstein “because it was a lot for her to do”.
Maxwell ‘groped 16-year-old in topless massage’
Annie Farmer, the last accuser to take the stand, pointed at the defendant and alleged she had given her a topless massage at age 16.
On a visit to Epstein’s New Mexico ranch, Ms Farmer testified that Ms Maxwell “pulled the sheet down and exposed my breasts and started rubbing on my chest and on my upper breasts”.
“I was surprised,” she said in court. “I wanted so badly to get off of the table.”
Ms Farmer said she had a “sense” that Epstein – who she says groped her on three occasions – was nearby watching.