Opening arguments in the highly anticipated trial of socialite Ghislaine Maxwell begin tomorrow in a Manhattan federal court. The British socialite has been held in remand in New York for more than 500 days.
Over the next six weeks Maxwell and her lawyers will try to convince a jury that she’s innocent on all charges.
Maxwell is being tried on several counts, including trafficking underage girls for financier Jeffrey Epstein to sexually abuse.
He died by suicide while in police custody three years ago. If the Oxford graduate is convinced on all six charges, she could face up to 80 years behind bars.
Four women who are expected to give evidence claim that they were victims of Maxwell from 1994 to 2004.
Maxwell, 59, has pleaded not guilty and maintains she is being held unfairly and treated badly while in detention.
Her defence is expected to make up a few different strands. Maxwell’s brother Ian believes the authorities are determined to make an example of her to save face because of their own incompetence in “allowing Epstein to die on their watch”.
Lawyers are also expected to try to undermine the credibility of Maxwell’s accusers saying they’ve received “millions of dollars” from a compensation fund and can expect to rake in vast sums for future interviews or book deals.
They have also lined up experts including Professor Loftus, a psychologist who is expected to claims that Ghislaine Maxwell’s accusers may have developed “false memories” as a result of talking to other witnesses or media coverage.
Media coverage is another strand to the defence with many claiming it is impossible to have a fair trial. Those involved in detaining the daughter of media Tycoon Robert Maxwell are on record describing her as “a villain” who “slithered away” into hiding after Epstein’s death.
Arguably, the strongest aspect of Mawell’s defence is that she is being prosecuted as a proxy for Epstein after he was never brought to justice.
But the witnesses will be compelling in a case that involves high stakes, luxurious lifestyles and devastating accusations. The world will be watching.