by Paul Serran
Ghislaine Maxwell is larger-than-life. Everything about her is colossal. Her childhood as the youngest and preferred daughter of newspaper titan and alleged Mossad spy Robert Maxwell put her in direct contact with British, European and American super elites.
When her father was found dead at high seas having ‘fallen’ from his yacht ‘Lady Ghislaine’, his empire came crashing down, exposing how Maxwell had stolen from his employees’ pension funds. Shame, legal and financial problems haunted the family. In the historical 1992 article that Edward Klein wrote for Vanity Fair, ‘The Sinking of Captain Bob‘ a young Ghislaine takes the rein of the PR effort for the family in the end of the long piece, with words that proved to be prophetic, though not perhaps in the way she expected.
“I did not recognize in Ghislaine Maxwell the young woman her friends had described to me—the racy, glamorous social flibbertigibbet whom George Hamilton had escorted to the Ever Ready Derby in England and skied with in Aspen, who had attended the Kerry Kennedy-Andrew Cuomo wedding, and who had once instructed her father’s pilot to put his helicopter into a free-fall to scare her fellow passenger.
‘He [Robert Maxwell] wasn’t a crook,’ she told me. ‘A thief to me is somebody who steals money. Do I think that my father did that? No. I don’t know what he did. Obviously, something happened. Did he put it in his own pocket? Did he run off with the money? No. And that’s my definition of a crook.’
‘I’m surviving—just,’ she went on. ‘But I can’t just die quietly in a corner. I have to believe that something good will come out of this mess. It’s sad for my mother. It’s sad to have lost my dad. It’s sad for my brothers. But I would say we’ll be back. Watch this space.'”
“I would say we’ll be back. Watch this space.” She just knew she was destined to do big things, and indeed she was. To be a jet-setter, a helicopter pilot, a submarine pilot. To mingle with the rich and famous. To be also an alleged vital part of the biggest and most infamous pedophile and sex trafficking ring ever to be exposed to the public.
I’ve written a lot about the Jeffrey Epstein case, beginning when he hadn’t even been arrested yet – something that not many people dared to do. The same goes for Ghislaine Maxwell. Well before July 2, 2020, when police arrested her on multiple criminal charges, I was researching her and her family and associates. Gearing up for this inevitable day of reckoning, really.
In July and August 2020, I published 4 articles here in the Frank Report that provided a ton of content and context to this very complex story.
Between her arrest and the beginning of the trial this Monday, 515 days have elapsed. That’s 1 year, 4 months and 27 days. And that’s in the brutal MDC in Brooklyn!
Bail for Maxwell has been denied 5 times, on the obvious grounds that she has multiple nationalities – British, French and American – and enjoys the means and the incentive to escape punishment.
So, up until a few days ago you couldn’t talk to me about Maxwell’s trial being fixed in any way in her favour.
1) the presiding judge, Allison Nathan, was nominated by Joe Biden for a golden promotion to the Second Circuit, on the eve of the start of the trial.
2) Then, we learned that the daughter of James Comey was going to be one of the prosecutors – and she did not leave a good image while working in the aborted Epstein case, and was allegedly involved in the debacle of the disappearing of the CCTV images from Epstein’s cell.
3) Then, during voir dire, summed up Miami Herald’s Julie K Brown, “one juror apparently forgot to show up, two others couldn’t be found for a time and a third cited financial hardships for not serving. A fourth said her husband surprised her with a vacation.” We all suspect jury tampering when we see these kinds of things unfolding.
4) Finally, the prosecution only used 25 minutes in their opening statements, unlike the vast majority of cases when an hour is well spent on that – as did the defense, in this case.
So, in my mind, all bets were off. The possibility of a fix of some kind could not be discarded. When the ball started rolling with the testimonies, these fears of mine have been allayed to a great extent.
According to the superseding indictment filed in late March 2021, Ghislaine Maxwell faces the following charges:
- Count One: Conspiracy to Entice Minors to Travel to Engage in Illegal Sex Acts.
- Count Two: Enticement of a Minor to Travel to Engage in Illegal Sex Acts.
- Count Three: Conspiracy to Transport Minors with Intent to Engage in Criminal Sexual Activity.
- Count Four: Transportation of a Minor with Intent to Engage in Criminal Sexual Activity.
- Count Five: Sex Trafficking Conspiracy.
- Count Six: Sex Trafficking of a Minor.
- Counts Seven and Eight: Perjury (stemming from allegedly false deposition testimony during a civil suit).
Maxwell, state the prosecutors, “assisted, facilitated, and contributed to Jeffrey Epstein’s abuse of minor girls by, among other things, helping Epstein to recruit, groom, and ultimately abuse victims known to Maxwell and Epstein to be under the age of 18.”
So, the trial finally started in the Thurgood Marshall Federal Courthouse, in New York City. The players to watch in this judicial match are briefly described below.
United States District Judge Alison Nathan was appointed to the federal bench by Barack Obama in 2011. She clerked for the late Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, worked as counsel for the attorney general of New York and was an associate White House counsel and special assistant for Obama.
Her pretrial rulings include permitting prosecutors to use the word “victim” when discussing Maxwell’s accusers and allowing those accusers to testify anonymously, using pseudonyms.
She also granted Maxwell’s request to keep secret undisclosed “sensational” information contained in the court documents and transcripts. Last week she was nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, one step away from the Supreme Court.
The prosecution team:
AUSA Alison G. Moe is a member of the Southern District of New York’s Public Corruption Unit.
AUSA Maurene R. Comey has been with SDNY since 2014, and is a chief of the Violent and Organized Crime Unit. The daughter of former FBI Director James Comey, who once served as the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.
Incidentally, both Moe and Comey had been involved in the aborted Jeffrey Epstein prosecution.
AUSA Andrew Rohrbach has been with SDNY since 2019. He previously served as an attorney for the Department of Justice.
AUSA Lara E. Pomerantz is a member of SDNY’s Public Corruption Unit.
The defense team:
Defense attorney Bobbi Sternheim’s is no stranger to defending the accused accomplices of notorious men. She represented a Saudi man accused of being one of Osama bin Laden’s top deputies – the man was convicted. She has also defended alleged members of organized crime, drug dealers and public officials accused of corruption.
Laura Menninger has been an attorney in Colorado for the past 20 years. Menninger also represented Maxwell in a defamation lawsuit Virginia Roberts Giuffre brought against her in 2015, which Maxwell paid to settle in 2017.
Jeffrey Pagliuca is an attorney at the same Denver law firm as Menninger and also worked as a public defender in Colorado before joining the firm.
Christian Everdell worked as a federal prosecutor in the Southern District of New York for nearly a decade, spending time as part of the district’s terrorism and international narcotics unit and its complex frauds and cybercrime unit.
The prosecution’s short opening statements were delivered by the younger and prettier AUSA Lara Pomerantz. It’s a deliberate maneuver to present their case with someone that roughly matches the demographics of the victims. (This worked out well in the Keith Raniere trial).
Pomerantz said Maxwell ‘helped normalize abusive sexual conduct’ at the hands of Jeffrey Epstein; she was his ‘best friend and right hand’, involved in every detail of his life and serving as the ‘lady of the house‘ for his various properties.
The prosecution also alleges that Epstein and Maxwell had a ‘playbook’ for grooming young girls for him, learning about their ‘hopes and dreams’ and gathering intimate details about their families in order to make them feel comfortable around him before abusing them.
‘She preyed on vulnerable young girls, manipulated them, and served them up to be sexually abused,’ Pomerantz said in the prosecution’s opening statement.
To demonstrate this, prosecutors will call four victims/accusers: the anonymous Jane, Kate, and Carolyn, as well as Annie Farmer.
Attorney Bobbi Sternheim’s gave the opening statements for the Maxwell defense, stating that the case was about “memory, manipulation and money,” arguing that the alleged victims of Epstein have received multimillion-dollar payments from a Victims’ fund set up by Epstein’s estate, and that they changed their stories throughout the years.
Maxwell ‘is not Jeffrey Epstein’ and is not like any of the other powerful men who have abused women. ‘She’s being blamed for what a man did – just like Eve in the Garden of Eden’, said Sternheim, reaching for the scriptures in hope to salvage her clients’ freedom, if not her immortal soul.
Sternheim noted that ‘Jane’ is a now a successful actress on a soap opera. ‘She is a consummate actress. She is a pro at playing roles. And as her scripts and characters change, so has her story that you will hear in this courtroom,’
Annie Farmer is the only accuser to have her identity revealed. Sternheim told the jury that Annie will claim she’s scarred by what happened in New Mexico.
‘Yet ask yourself, if it was so traumatic, why has she kept for 25 years the boots she claims Epstein purchased for her to wear in the snake-filled brush of Santa Fe, boots that have been well-worn over more than two decades.’
Maxwell is also accused of befriending the third alleged underage victim known as ‘Kate’ in London, and grooming her between 1994 and 1995.
Sternheim took aim at Kate’s admitted drug use during the period of time that she will testify about and that it ‘fogged her memory.’
The final accuser, Carolyn, lived in Florida and was about 14 when she was recruited to give Epstein ‘sexual’ massages for money at his Palm Beach mansion, prosecutors claim.
Maxwell’s attorney took aim at ‘Carolyn’s’ troubled past and claims she ‘lived a dangerous lifestyle’ and was using drugs during the period that she interacted with Epstein.
(It’s usual for sex predators to target minors with broken families and deviant lifestyles, which makes them a much easier prey. So the tactic of exploiting that seems specially brutal.)
In the next installment of this story we will begin talking about the depositions. The trial is expected to last 6 weeks, so buckle up!