Ghislaine Maxwell’s trial offers a new look at Jeffrey Epstein’s MO

For most of the first week of Ghislaine Maxwellof the federal sex trafficking trial, the accused remained motionless in front of his brothers and sisters, who was watching from the gallery. Wearing a turtleneck every day, Maxwell would sometimes get up to hug his lawyer Bobbi sternheim or whispered intensely to other members of his defense team of four lawyers. But for some testimonial footage, with Maxwell occupying a small corner of the video stream streaming into three overflowing courtrooms for reporters and observers, his presence could almost register as an afterthought.

So far, her long-awaited trial has tended to focus more on the crimes she would have facilitated than on Maxwell herself. Prosecutors and defense attorneys questioned witnesses, including one of Jeffrey Epstein’s sexual abuse accusers, a longtime pilot of his private jets and a house manager at his Palm Beach residence, about their experiments with the man of whom Maxwell would have served as an accomplice. . Maxwell faces several federal charges related to child sex trafficking and has pleaded not guilty to all counts.

For the defense, the momentum may be an opportunity to distance Maxwell from Epstein’s abuse. Maxwell’s lawyers have argued that she was just Epstein’s scapegoat, a woman forced to pay for a man’s crimes. For the prosecution, perhaps the initial task is to state exactly what was encouraged. The most striking testimony in the trial to date came from Jane (a pseudonym used in the trial), whom Epstein allegedly began to sexually abuse when she was 14.

“How do you navigate a healthy relationship with a broken compass?” Jane said at the request of the Assistant District Attorney of the United States Alison moe how the trauma affected her relationships as an adult. “I didn’t even understand what real love is supposed to be like. It ruined my self-esteem, my self-esteem.

In Wednesday’s cross-examination, counsel for Maxwell Laura Menninger has repeatedly tried to trip Jane over details of her early encounters with Epstein and Maxwell, but also asked her about the nature of her work as an actor. As Jane responded to Menninger, she showed both some exhaustion and some recognition of the absurdity of the exercise.

“Do you see yourself as an actor?” Menninger asked, in a tactic reminiscent of Harvey Weinsteindefense team during his trial in 2020.

“It’s not my favorite scenario,” Jane said when asked if she had ever played a prostitute.

During Moe’s next round of questions about Jane, she asked what the difference was between Jane’s job and what she was doing on Tuesday. “Acting on TV isn’t real,” Jane said. “Testifying in court is real. “

Such side protests had the effect of pushing Maxwell away from the picture – that line of questioning was mostly about the victim and Epstein. But as Juan Alessi, who worked as a home manager for Epstein in Palm Beach from from the beginning of the 90s until 2002, began testifying on Thursday, the focus of the trial shifted to a more granular view of the life Maxwell and Epstein led.

The house was run “like a five-star hotel,” Alessi said of the instructions he received from Maxwell and Epstein. He interpreted the directives given to him to mean that he should “be blind and deaf and dumb to say nothing of their lies.” He described a list of instructions he and other domestic workers received as “degrading.”

This kind of treatment has been known for a long time to those who follow the comings and goings of the wealthy couple. But during Maxwell’s lawyer Jeffrey PagliucaDuring Alessi’s cross-examination on Friday, attention turned to the pending criminal cases.

After Alessi testified that he drove Maxwell to different massage locations, Pagliuca asked, “That doesn’t make you guilty of sex trafficking, does it?” »Judge Alison nathan supported the prosecution’s immediate objection as a room filled with spectators moaned. The question was meant to downplay Maxwell’s guilt, but by then Alessi had already explained that at the end of his tenure he was reporting directly to him.

Epstein, he said, “has had very little contact with me over the past few years.”

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