Despite no direct video coverage of the courtroom available due to federal case regulations, the SDNY courthouse is packed today for the initial proceedings and opening statements of the Ghislaine Maxwell Trial.
Maxwell is accused of participating in deceased power broker Jeffrey Epstein’s international child sex trafficking operation with heavy implication, facing a litany of related charges including:
Two counts of: Conspiracy to entice minors to travel to engage in illegal sex acts
Two counts of: Transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity
One count of: Sex trafficking a minor
One count of: Sex trafficking conspiracy
Two counts of: Perjury (in efforts to conceal her and Epstein’s efforts, demonstrated by a pattern of dishonesty while under oath). 2nd count added recently (not present on initial rap sheet.
Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press provides a visual outside the courthouse, showing journalists ready to be funneled into crowded overflow rooms and preparing to report on a federal sex trafficking trial with global implications.
Lee also describes issues he’s faced in attempting to gain press access to broadcast a call-in line for the trial, citing procedural irregularities when compared to other cases he’s covered at SDNY Courthouse. Lee, however, is in the overflow to report on proceedings.
Ian Maxwell, the brother of Ghislaine, attempted to frame a defense narrative for his sibling in an interview with The Associated Press. Ian expressed attitudes that minimize the seriousness of Ghislaine’s alleged crimes; claiming the trial is “over-hyped” and misdirected at Maxwell (although he fails to explain in any specificity, how she is innocent and instead proclaims her innocence with no reference of evidence whatsoever).
Ian proclaimed: “This is designed to break her. I can’t see any other way to read it. … And she will not be broken because she believes completely in her innocence, and she is going to give the best account she can.”
Despite Ian’s claims, Ghislaine has an alleged history of providing false statements to legal officials to conceal her involvement in Epstein’s crimes. This highlights the importance of drawing attention to patterns of perjury and dishonesty in the courts displayed by Ghislaine and conspirators in pursuit of favorable outcomes.
According to MSN, several accusers have described Maxwell as being "worse" than Epstein (more involved with sex trafficking, recruitment, and subsequent abuse), but her family insists she is taking the fall for Epstein’s alleged crimes (citing no evidence).
Epstein victim Jennifer Araoz provided a statement to CBS news this morning regarding individuals that conspired within Epstein and Maxwell’s child sex trafficking operation stating:
"It was a huge web, a big enterprise, and I want everybody who was involved to face their day in court and have justice”.
Jury Deliberation and Opening Statements
Jury challenge and examination has occupied the trial’s initial proceedings. One juror (described as working in private equity) was excused due to his self-reported prior discussions with work colleagues who had strong opinions regarding the case.
“Juror 87 has been excused after saying that he had conversations with work contacts who had expressed strong opinions about the case.
He said that he had been unable to cut them off.
Judge Nathan has asked the jurors if they have read, seen, heard, or researched anything about the case during the holiday recess and if there is any reason that they cannot be a fair and impartial juror.
One juror, number 87, who works for a private equity firm has expressed doubts about being fair and impartial and will be questioned in the main courtroom.
Jurors are currently being held in two separate courtrooms and have been addressed remotely.”
Opening statements for prosecution commenced at roughly 2:15pm and have summarized below via Inner City Press’ coverage:
The opening statement from Assistant U.S. Attorney Lara Pomerantz details the high society status of Epstein and Ghislaine, alongside graphic details regarding Maxwell’s vital role within his wide-reaching child sex trafficking network:
“There were times she was in the room when it happened. That is why we are here today. Between 1994 and 2004 the defendant sexually exploited young girls. She preyed on them and served them up to be sexually abused. She was trafficking kids for sex. He owned a ranch in New Mexico, an apartment in Paris, a mansion in Manhattan, Palm Beach, a private island. Epstein has private planes and pilots. The defendant got to enjoy that luxury right along with Epstein.”
“The defendant was the lady of the house. She imposed rules. Employees were to hear nothing, see nothing, say nothing. There was a culture of silence. That was by design. The defendant's design. To get the girls to touch Epstein, they used the cover of massage. The defendant massaged Epstein then told the girls to do it. Epstein brought girls into his massage room every single day. It was sexual abuse. Before I describe those so-called massages, let me say: these are the facts. Epstein touched the teenage girls with equipment. He sometimes penetrated... The defendant helped Epstein find those girls, for so-called massages. They lured their victims with a promise of a brighter future then destroyed their lives. The defendant was jet-setting in private planes.”
“So, what happened to Jane? You will hear from her. Someone from Epstein's office invited her to Epstein's house. He told her mother he was offering a scholarship. Jane was 14 - a kid. Epstein was in his early 40s, the defendant in her early 30s. Jane traveled to New York to Epstein's mansion, where he abused her. She was not the only one. You will learn about multiple girls during the course of this trial. You will learn about a 16-year-old girl who traveled to the ranch in New Mexico. The defendant told the girl she was going to give her a massage. But she touched her elsewhere. The girl was 16 years old. There's a 17-year-old, spotted in a parking lot. The driver pulled over.” [Maxwell seen putting on her glasses and jots down notes].
“They moved beyond scholarships and moved on to a pyramid scheme of abuse. They encouraged girls to bring other girls, for extra cash. The defendant knew exactly what she was doing. That's what we expect the evidence will show. You'll hear about a fund that paid millions to the victims of Jeffrey Epstein. But you will learn that these victims would have paid anything to have this not have happened to them. You will hear from relatives. You will hear from staff members. You'll see massage tables. A school girl's outfit. You'll see other records - flight logs showing the names of some of Epstein's victims.”
“At the end we will speak again. Until then, pay attention, follow Judge Nathan's instructions, and use your common sense. You will reach the only verdict possible: that Ghislaine Maxwell is guilty.”
Bobbi Sternheim of Maxwell’s defense team started an opening statement with strange biblical references of feminine persecution and promotion of flimsy scientific concepts such as “false memory.”
In an aim to shift focus away from Ghislaine’s actions Sternheim emphasized the crimes of Jeffrey Epstein, suggesting he was a master manipulator that Ghislaine also fell victim to.
Sternheim then proceeded to praise the dead pedophile’s “positive traits” and appearance, claiming Epstein radiated a “halo effect”.
This was followed by wild assertions (which failed to be demonstrated through reference of evidence) that attempted to state the victim’s only motivations were monetary, preposterously claiming that every single victim “has been primed by public servants” to seek unreasonable reparations.
Sternheim’s direct quote:
“Epstein will be mentioned throughout the trial. He is the elephant in the room. He is consuming this entire courtroom and the overflow courtrooms. You are not here to judge Epstein. You are here to determine if Ghislaine Maxwell committed these crimes. Epstein had many positive traits. Attractiveness. He radiated what's called a halo effect. Ghislaine became his employee, to administer his real estate like small boutique hotels. Like many New Yorkers, he wintered in Palm Beach.”
Throughout the course of Sternheim’s opening statement, Pomerantz objected on three separate occasions, challenging conjecture presented to the jury as fact. Although Sternheim may aim to discredit accusers, he has failed to suggest the details of Maxwell’s innocence, providing no explanation regarding her participation in Epstein’s operation, as he claims “against her will”.
Initial proceedings suggest the defense is focusing on favorably selected conjecture, stirring the jury’s imagination and aiming to establish an alternative narrative to that of which is not supported by evidence.
It is hard to discern anything of significant substance presented by Maxwell’s defense team in response to prosecutions opening statement, rather, a specific emphasis placed on priming the jury to be open to high level suggestion and deflection can be observed.
The day’s proceedings concluded with the first witness testimony of the trial. Former Epstein employee and pilot, Larry Viskovski is the first witness that has been brought forth by the prosecution.
Viskovski was asked about and confirmed that he had been hired by Epstein in Ohio (alongside an individual by the name of David Rogers) and subsequently worked for Epstein in NY “picking up luggage and installing video equipment”.
Viskovski also confirmed that he flew Epstein’s private planes out of Teterboro airport initially, then later flying out of JFK and Newark airports due to larger aircraft infrastructure.
Until next time
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