Judge sets November for start of Ghislaine Maxwell’s trial

Judge sets November for start of Ghislaine Maxwell’s trial
Ghislaine Maxwell (Chris Ison/PA)

Ghislaine Maxwell’s trial will start in November on charges that she recruited teenage girls for financier Jeffrey Epstein to sexually abuse over a 10-year period, a judge has said.

Jury selection can occur in mid-November and opening statements will begin on November 29, US District Judge Alison J Nathan said.

The order was issued a day after prosecutors told the judge that both sides would be ready for trial in November, though defence lawyers preferred it begin on November 8 while prosecutors wanted it to start on November 29.

Judge Nathan said jury selection can occur in the week of November 15.

The judge recently scrapped a July 12 trial date after defence lawyers complained that sex trafficking charges added in March left them insufficient time to investigate and prepare for trial.

Maxwell, 59, has been jailed at the Metropolitan Detention Centre in Brooklyn since last July, when she was arrested at a New Hampshire estate.

Judge Nathan has denied bail three times, twice rejecting a 28.5 million dollar (£20.1 million) proposed package that would have required Maxwell to remain in a New York City dwelling with 24-hour armed guards.

The judge said she believed Maxwell was a risk to flee despite the US citizen’s claims that she was willing to renounce her citizenship in the UK and France to prove her willingness to appear for trial.

Maxwell has pleaded not guilty to charges that she recruited teenage girls from 1994 to 2004 for Epstein to sexually abuse during encounters sometimes described as sexualised massages.

Prosecutors say their case hinges primarily on the evidence of four women who were abused, including two who say they were recruited when they were 14.

Defence lawyers have challenged the charges on numerous grounds, although Judge Nathan has rejected most of them. They have succeeded in severing perjury charges from those alleging sex abuse.

Epstein killed himself in August 2019 in a federal Manhattan jail as he awaited trial on sex trafficking charges.

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