Ghislaine Maxwell’s friends and family ask to remain anonymous if they testify in her defence
- Ghislaine Maxwell’s lawyers launch her defence case starting on Thursday
- British socialite could face 80 years in jail if guilty of the sex trafficking charges
- One of her lawyers has asked the court to allow some defence witnesses to withhold their real names
- Friends and relatives pleaded for Maxwell to be granted bail while awaiting trial
Friends and family of alleged ‘madam’ Ghislaine Maxwell have asked to remain anonymous if they testify in her defence.
Maxwell, who could face an 80-year prison sentence if found guilty of six sex trafficking charges, will begin the ‘fight for her life’ in New York on Thursday when her lawyers launch her defence case.
The socialite stands accused of procuring women and underage girls for the billionaire paedophile Jeffrey Epstein. She vehemently denies the charges.
Maxwell, who could face an 80-year prison sentence if found guilty of six sex trafficking charges, will begin the ‘fight for her life’ in New York on Thursday when her lawyers launch her defence case
The prosecution rested its case on Friday after calling Annie Farmer, who testified that she was fondled and abused by Maxwell when she was 14.
Christian Everdell, a lawyer representing Maxwell, asked the court to allow some defence witnesses to withhold their real names, as they had requested, saying: ‘People who testify might get a lot of unwanted attention, especially if they are testifying on behalf of Ms Maxwell’.
Judge Alison Nathan said she would consider the request.
During several bail hearings, Maxwell’s friends and relatives wrote anonymously to the court pleading for her to be granted bail and vouching for her good character.
Annie Farmer, one of the four accusers in Ghislaine Maxwell’s sex trafficking trial took the stand on Friday. Farmer, who is the only accuser in the case to testify under her real name, described meeting the late pedophile in New York in 1996 when she was 16. She told how Epstein brought her to his ranch in Santa Fe, New Mexico where she met Maxwell
A lawyer associated with the case said: ‘People’s lives have been destroyed by having their names linked to Ghislaine’s.
‘She would support any move to protect those prepared to speak on her behalf. She is innocent and determined to prove it but is anxious no more lives and reputations are ruined.’
The defence is expected to last two or three days, which means the case could go to the jury before Christmas. Maxwell’s lawyers fear jurors might then rush to deliver a verdict before the holidays.
It has still not been decided if Maxwell will testify in her own defence. A source said: ‘Ghislaine is willing to take the stand. She is prepared to face the jury and fight for her life.’
The six charges against Maxwell:
Conspiracy to entice minors to travel to engage in illegal sex acts (5 years max sentence)
Enticement of a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts (20 years)
Conspiracy to transport minors with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity (20 years)
Transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity (10 years minimum, life maximum)
Sex Trafficking Conspiracy
Sex Trafficking of a Minor
Ghislaine Maxwell also faces two charges of perjury but those counts are due to be tried after her sex crimes trial.
The charges relate to testimony she gave in 2016 in a defamation case filed against her by Epstein accuser Virginia Giuffre.
Prosecutors say Maxwell groomed three girls between 1994 and 1997 for Epstein.
They are not named in the indictment, but she allegedly targeted them in London, Florida, New York and New Mexico.
Maxwell, it is alleged, would befriend the girls by asking them about their life and their schooling. She would put them at ease by taking them to the movies and taking them shopping, winning their trust to later deliver them to Epstein, it’s alleged.
To ‘normalize’ the abuse that would come later, prosecutors say she undressed in front of the girls herself and asked them sexual questions.
She then not only facilitated Epstein abusing them, prosecutors say, but took part in some of it herself.
The alleged sex abuse includes ‘sexualized group massages’.
The indictment also says Maxwell made the girl feel ‘indebted’ to Epstein by encouraging them to take money from him and let him pay for their education and travel.
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