(New York) Two years after the suicide in prison of billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, accused of sex crimes, the trial of his ex-girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell begins Monday in New York to find out whether this ultramondaine was recruiting underage girls for the financier and her entourage.
The daughter of press mogul Robert Maxwell, 59, has been in prison in the United States since the summer of 2020 and faces life imprisonment after debates scheduled to last six weeks.
According to the complex American criminal procedure, the trial technically began in mid-November with the selection of 12 jurors in federal court in Manhattan.
This brunette, elegant and smiling woman in the last photos at the height of her glory is today described by the FBI and prosecutors as a “villain” cultivating the art of “manipulation”.
Ghislaine Maxwell is suspected of having played the role of “tout”, of having recruited between 1994 and 2004 underage girls sexually exploited for Jeffrey Epstein, with whom she maintained for nearly 30 years a loving, friendly and professional relationship. until he was incarcerated and committed suicide in prison in 2019.
The Franco-American-British claim to be innocent and plead not guilty to the six charges. She should not speak at the hearing.
In her defense, the almost sixty-year-old, who lived and grew up in hyper-privileged environments, has been complaining for 18 months about her conditions of detention in a Brooklyn prison. She denounced mid-November via her lawyers in the British newspaper Mail on Sunday of “attacks for a year and a half”, the fact of being deprived of sleep and having only “rotten food”.
Her brothers and sisters even seized on November 22 in Geneva experts from the UN working group on arbitrary detention to denounce “serious violations of the rights of the defense” and “unworthy and degrading treatment” that their sister would suffer. in prison, “where she has been held in solitary confinement for 500 days without justification”.
For its part, the accusation is based on four anonymous plaintiffs – two of whom were only 14 and 15 years old – who say that they were approached by “touts”, including Mr.me Maxwell, near their school or at work.
Then, after the cinema and shopping “with girlfriends”, the young girls were persuaded, for a few hundred dollars, to come and give a massage, presented as non-sexual, to a powerful New Yorker ready to take their career off the ground.
According to prosecutors, the accused would also have participated in the sexual assaults with her partner, either at her home in London or at his home in Manhattan, Florida and New Mexico.
Prince Andrew, Clinton, Trump
The shadow of Jeffrey Epstein will obviously be omnipresent, more than two years after his suicide which deprived his victims of a trial.
The billionaire had been convicted in Florida in 2008 for having paid young girls for massages. But he had only served 13 months in prison following a confidential agreement with the prosecutor at the time.
Another shadow will hang over the Maxwell trial: that of British Prince Andrew, a close friend of Epstein, the target since August of a separate complaint for “sexual assault” filed by an American, Virginia Giuffre.
This complaint should be examined at the end of 2022 in a civil court in New York, even if the second son of Queen Elizabeth II is not prosecuted and denies these facts which would have taken place between 2000 and 2002, when Virginia Giuffre was a minor. .
After her trial, Ghislaine Maxwell should also be tried for perjury for having testified in 2016 in a libel proceeding she had brought against Virginia Giuffre, who accuses her of playing the go-between for Prince Andrew.
Other names could be cited: former US presidents Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, due to their presence at New York parties, and former French model agent Jean-Luc Brunel, friend of Epstein, indicted and imprisoned in Paris in December 2020 for rape and sexual assault.
The defense should argue that the alleged crimes go back more than 20 years – a psychologist will enlighten the court on the phenomenon of “false memories” – and especially that Ghislaine Maxwell is tried instead of the main protagonist.