Prosecutors call Ghislaine Maxwell the 'key' to Jeffrey Epstein's child-sex-trafficking operation in closing arguments

Jeffrey Epstein Ghislaine Maxwell
Prosecutors entered this undated photo of Ghislaine Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein into evidence in Maxwell's sex-trafficking trial.
US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York
  • Prosecutors delivered closing arguments in Ghislaine Maxwell's child-sex-trafficking trial.
  • Assistant US Attorney Alison Moe said Maxwell was a key figure in Jeffrey Epstein's sexual abuse of minors.
  • Moe said Maxwell helped groom the girls by being present during sex acts and nude around Epstein.

Prosecutors described Ghislaine Maxwell as the "key" to Jeffrey Epstein's child-sex-abuse operation during closing arguments in the case on Monday. 

Maxwell is standing trial in Manhattan federal court after being accused of sex-trafficking girls with the convicted sex offender and participating in sexual abuse herself. Prosecutors said Maxwell's alleged crimes took place between 1997 and 2004.

The British socialite has pleaded not guilty to the charges. F0llowing the prosecution's closing arguments, Maxwell's defense team argued that her accusers' memories had corrupted over time and that there wasn't sufficient evidence to convict her.

Four women who testified at the trial said Maxwell was instrumental in bringing them into Epstein's orbit, where they became the target of unwanted sexual contact from Epstein, Maxwell, or both. Two of the women testified under the pseudonyms "Jane" and "Kate." A third used her first name, Carolyn. And a fourth, Annie Farmer, testified under her full name.

Moe said that Maxwell and Epstein purposefully preyed on girls in vulnerable situations. One of the accusers who testified said the two entered her life after her father died. Another said her mother was an alcoholic.

"It is not an accident that Jane and Kate and Carolyn and Annie all came from single-mother households," Assistant US Attorney Alison Moe said on Monday. "Maxwell and Epstein selected these girls carefully."

Alison Moe Ghislaine Maxwell
Assistant US Attorney Alison Moe delivered closing arguments in Ghislaine Maxwell's trial.
Jane Rosenberg/Reuters

Throughout the trial, Maxwell's attorneys have sought to distance her from Epstein, who died by suicide in jail while awaiting trial on similar charges in 2019.

But in closing arguments on Monday, Moe said Epstein and Maxwell "were partners in crime who exploited young girls together."

Maxwell wasn't just a personal assistant to the disgraced financier, Moe said, referencing a 2002 document found in a 2019 raid of Epstein's Manhattan home that said Maxwell and Epstein had been in a relationship for 11 years. During the trial, prosecutors submitted numerous photos into evidence that show Epstein and Maxwell kissing, hugging, and taking vacations together.

"When you're partners with someone for 11 years, you know what you like," Moe said. "Epstein liked underage girls. Epstein liked to touch underage girls."

ghislaine maxwell court family ian christine isabel
Ian Maxwell, Christine Maxwell and Isabel Maxwell lean over a rail to chat with Jeffrey Epstein associate Ghislaine Maxwell during her trial for sex trafficking in a courtroom sketch in New York City, U.S., December 20, 2021.
REUTERS/Jane Rosenberg

Moe also referenced one photo, which has not been made public, showing Epstein and Maxwell topless by the pool of Epstein's Palm Beach home. She pointed out that a third person took the photo, indicating Maxwell had treated nudity around others as routine. Moe said Maxwell was instrumental in grooming the girls brought to Epstein by "confusing their boundaries" and convincing them that sexual acts and being partially nude around Epstein was normal. 

"Maxwell was the key to the whole operation," Moe said. She added that Maxwell silenced the alarm bells that the victims may have had.

Maxwell sat in her usual seat at the far end of the defense table on Monday. Though she typically showed little reaction to testimony during the trial, she was active as Moe addressed jurors, scribbling down notes and flipping through papers she pulled from a neon green folder.

More family members joined in support of her in the courtroom as well, with her siblings Christine and Ian in the front row of the public gallery, joining her brother Kevin and sister Isabel, who had attended the trial every day along with their friends and attorney Leah Saffian.

In her presentation to jurors, Moe drew attention to similarities in the four accusers' stories and to a detail found in Epstein and Maxwell's little black book, where the financier kept the names of so-called masseuses, as well as the phone numbers of those masseuses' parents.

"Use your common sense ladies and gentlemen," Moe said. "When you call a masseuse, you don't need to call their mom and dad."

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