MANHATTAN (CN) — Ghislaine Maxwell “ran the same playbook over and over and over again as she exploited young girls,” federal prosecutors told jurors on Monday morning, delivering their closing argument in the criminal sex trafficking trial of the woman said to have recruited and groomed victims for sexual abuse by late millionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein.
Portraying Maxwell as a dangerous predator, as well as Epstein’s partner-in-crime, romantic partner and “the lady of the house” at his multiple opulent estates, Assistant U.S. Attorney Alison Moe described the pair as “a wealthy couple who used their privilege to prey on kids from struggling families."
"Make no mistake, selecting these girls was predatory behavior,” Moe said during a summation that stretched two hours and 15 minutes in Manhattan this morning. “They found kids who needed something. They were exploiting that need.
“Epstein could not have done this alone,” Moe added. “When that man is accompanied by a posh, smiling, respectable, age-appropriate woman, that’s when everything starts to seem legitimate."
When Maxwell acted like it was totally normal for Epstein to touch his underage teenage victims, "it lures them into a trap," the government charged in its closing argument.
“Ghislaine Maxwell was dangerous,” Moe told jurors who were spaced apart in a courtroom where numerous pandemic precautions were taken. “She manipulated her victims and groomed them. She caused deep and lasting harm to young girls. It is time to hold her accountable."
Initially expected to take six weeks and go into mid-January 2022, the trial entered its fourth week this morning as jurors in Ghislaine Maxwell’s sex trafficking trial heard closing arguments.
Maxwell, 59, has been in custody since her July 2020 arrest, incarcerated at a federal detention facility in Brooklyn. She pleaded not guilty in April to eight criminal counts in the Southern District of New York: six stemming from the reported sex ring, and two severed counts accusing her of lying during a 2016 deposition.
Moe argued on Monday that it was no accident that all of the victim witnesses who testified at this trial about their recruitment for sexual abuse by Epstein all came from single-mother households, painting the selection of the teenage girls to give Epstein sexualized massages as "textbook grooming behavior."
“The relationships Maxwell cultivated with the girls was essential to this scheme,” the assistant U.S. attorney told jurors.
Prosecutors pointed jurors to bank records of three payments from Epstein to Maxwell in the early-to-mid 2000s totaling $30.7 million.
“You don’t give someone $30 million unless they’re giving you exactly what you want, and what Epstein wanted was to touch underage girls,” Moe said. “It was payment for committing terrible crimes with Jeffrey Epstein.”
The jury appeared to be paying close attention throughout the closing arguments on Monday. Most of the jurors were focused on Moe, looking directly at her as she was speaking.
“Ghislaine Maxwell made her own choices. She committed crimes hand in hand with Jeffrey Epstein. She was a grown woman who knew exactly what she was doing,” Moe said. “She knew. She was complicit. She is guilty,” she added.
Prior to the closing proceedings on Monday, Maxwell’s attorney Bobbi Sternheim appeared to be offering Maxwell, who seemed visibly stressed out, a supportive chat, with the attorney holding onto Maxwell’s shoulders.
Dressed in a tan sweater and black face mask for Covid-19 protocols, Maxwell scribbled notes during the prosecution’s closing arguments and talked to her attorney Jeffrey Pagliuca, who was seated to her right.
Maxwell was supported in the courtroom on Monday by four siblings who sat next to one another in the first row of spectators.