Closing arguments in the closely-watched sex trafficking trial of Jeffrey Epstein confidante Ghislaine Maxwell got the green light to get underway Monday after she declined to take the stand in her own defense.
“Your honor, the government has not proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt, and so there’s no reason for me to testify,” Maxwell told U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan late Friday.
With that, Maxwell’s defense team wrapped up its case after just two days of testimony.
This means the six-man, six-woman jury could begin deliberating the 59-year-old British socialite’s fate before Christmas.
If convicted, Maxwell could face a lengthy prison sentence.
Maxwell, who has been accused of “grooming” four underage girls for sex with Epstein and others mostly during the 1990s, has pleaded not guilty to the six charges against her.
Her defense team says the government is going after Maxwell because they cannot prosecute Epstein, a convicted sexual predator who hanged himself two years ago in a New York City jail cell. He was 66 and awaiting trial for sex trafficking.
Maxwell, the prosecutors have contended during her trial in New York City, was not an unwilling accomplice as the defense has argued — and will continue to argue on Monday.
Legal experts said it's not unusual for people on trial to choose not to testify or for defense attorneys to wrap-up cases like this so quickly.
“I don’t read too much into the curtailed defense,” said Deborah Tuerkheimer, a professor of law at Northwestern University who worked for five years as an assistant district attorney in the New York County District Attorney’s Office. “It’s actually not surprising to me that they winnowed their list, particularly since the prosecution’s case was shorter than expected.”
California trial lawyer Jesse Gessin, who has also been following the trial closely, said it is a common strategy, especially in sex crimes cases, for the defense to limit their case.
“The reason being that sex crimes prosecutions are often built on witness testimony, which is tested by the defense through cross-examination,” Gessin said.
Maxwell's lawyers helped speed the process along earlier Friday when they withdrew their request to delay the trial so they could track down a witness only identified as “Kelly,” who did not respond to several subpoenas, and another witness, an 81-year-old pub owner who lives in England.
Prosecutors argued that Maxwell had been in custody for more than a year and the defense had plenty of time to track down their witnesses.
Nathan appeared to agree. “You have your witnesses, or you rest,” the judge said.
“Our client’s life is on the line and we have had a day and a half for our defense,” defense attorney Laura Menninger said.
The defense then called two FBI agents to the stand followed by Eva Dubin, a Swedish doctor and former model who dated Epstein for 11 years.
A mother of three grown children, Dubin testified that she stayed friendly with Epstein after they broke up around 1991 and that she and her family visited him several times a year at his home in Palm Beach, Florida, which is where much of the alleged sexual abuse happened.
Prosecutors contend Maxwell was the “lady of the house” and enforced Epstein’s rules.
Dubin testified her kids called Esptein “Uncle F,” and she denied seeing any inappropriate behavior between Epstein and any teenage girls.
Presented with flight records that place her on Epstein’s private jet with Jane, which is the pseudonym for one of the women who have accused Maxwell of training her to sexually satisfy the now-dead financier, Dubin said, “I don’t recall ever meeting this person.”
“Have you ever been in a group sexual encounter with a person we’re calling Jane?” defense attorney Jeffrey Pagliuca asked.
“Absolutely not,” Dubin replied.
Epstein’s private flights attracted massive media scrutiny after it was revealed that former Presidents Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, Prince Andrew and others flew on them.
There are no allegations of trafficking against Trump and Clinton. Virginia Roberts Giuffre has alleged in a civil lawsuit that Maxwell trafficked her to Andrew, a son of Queen Elizabeth II, when she was 17. He has denied the allegations.
Jane told the court earlier that Maxwell personally showed her how to sexually satisfy Epstein and that she took part in orgies with the couple at the financier’s homes in Florida, New York City and his New Mexico ranch.
On cross-examination, Dubin, 60, admitted her memory is not what it used to be because of medical issues.
“It’s very hard for me to remember from far back and sometimes I can’t remember things from last month," she said. "My family notices it, and I notice it."
Giuffre, who is not one of Maxwell’s accusers in this trial, alleged in a 2016 deposition that she was ordered to have sex with several powerful men, including Dubin’s husband, hedge fund manager Glenn Dubin. He has denied the allegation.
The defense also called to the stand Michelle Healy, who worked as a receptionist for Epstein from 1996 to 1999 in New York City. She said she also ran errands for Maxwell and met Jane twice.
“I was told she was Jeffrey’s goddaughter,” Healy said. “She looked like a grown-up to me. She had a lot of makeup on.”
Asked if she was ever involved in “any group sexualized massages” with Jane or Epstein, Healy replied, “Absolutely not.”
Maxwell’s trial in the Southern District of New York was expected to take six weeks when it started on Nov. 29. But the prosecution rested after two weeks of testimony.