The stage is set for Ghislaine Maxwell’s sex trafficking trial

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FILE – Ghislaine Maxwell, founder of the TerraMar Project, attends a press conference on the ocean issue in the Sustainable Development Goals, at United Nations Headquarters, June 25, 2013. Maxwell spent the first half of her life with her father, a billionaire hack-to-riches who plundered his companies’ pension money before To die a mysterious death. She spent the second with another wealthy mogul, Jeffrey Epstein, who died while being accused of sexually assaulting teenage girls. Now, after a life full of scandal and luxury, Maxwell’s trial in the United States will set out (United Nations Photo/Rick Bajornas via AP, File)

AP

Two years after Jeffrey Epstein committed suicide behind bars, a jury is set to be selected Monday in New York City to determine a pivotal question in the long-running sex-trafficking case: Was his longtime companion, Ghislaine Maxwell, a doll or Epstein’s partner?

Maxwell – who once dated a financier – is accused of acting as Epstein’s main enabler, recruiting young girls and grooming them to abuse him. The charges against her stem from allegations by four women who said she and Epstein murdered them as teenagers from 1994 to 2004.

Prosecutors say there is evidence that Maxwell knew the victims, including a 14-year-old, were under the age of majority, and that she arranged travel for some between Epstein’s homes, including his properties in Palm Beach, Florida, his mansion in Manhattan and at Other residences are in Santa Fe, New Mexico and London.

Epstein killed himself in a federal prison in Manhattan in August 2019, a month after he was arrested for sex trafficking. Maxwell was charged with arrest in July 2020, after being tracked to a $1 million estate in New Hampshire where she was holed up during the coronavirus pandemic.

Maxwell has pleaded not guilty and has vehemently denied any wrongdoing. The 59-year-old British social activist, who has been detained in Brooklyn since her arrest, called the allegations against her “absolute nonsense”. Lawyers for Maxwell and his family say she was Epstein’s pawn, and she is now paying the “blood price” to satisfy the public desire to see someone held account for his crimes.

Monday’s first order will be to finalize the selection of 12 jurors and six alternates who will hear Maxwell’s case. Jury members will be selected from among 40 to 60 potential jurors who have done so through preliminary questioning.

US District Judge Alison Nathan has ordered the prosecution and defense to submit lists of potential jurors they want to exclude from trial. When selecting the primary jurors, the defense will have 10 peremptory appeals and six before the prosecution, Nathan said. For the alternates, each side will face three challenges.

President Joe Biden recently nominated Nathan for a seat on the Court of Appeals II circuit, but the judge said she will continue to preside over Maxwell’s trial.

The wealthy, Oxford-educated Maxwell is the daughter of British newspaper magnate Robert Maxwell, who died in 1991 after falling off his yacht – named Lady Ghislaine – near the Canary Islands. Robert Maxwell, whose holdings included the New York Daily News at the time, was facing allegations that he illegally looted his company’s pension funds.

Ghislaine Maxwell holds American, British and French nationalities, and was repeatedly denied bail in the lead up to her trial.

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