Ghislaine Maxwell’s attorneys on Thursday launched their defense of Jeffrey Epstein’s longtime confidante by putting on the stand a former assistant who insisted she “never” saw any abuse.
But as the first of the expected 35 defense witnesses were called to the stand, it became increasingly unlikely that Maxwell would testify on her own behalf with each passing hour.
A spokesperson for Maxwell told The Telegraph this week that Maxwell, 59, is unlikely to testify because she is “too fragile.”
And just before court ended Thursday, Maxwell's defense team informed U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan that it could wrap its case by the end of Friday.
That means that closing arguments in a trial that was expected to last six weeks could begin Monday after just a dozen days of testimony and the that jury could begin deliberating as soon as Tuesday.
Maxwell, who has been incarcerated in a Brooklyn, New York, jail since she was arrested in July 2020, is accused of helping Epstein recruit and abuse four underage girls, mostly in the 1990s. She has pleaded not guilty to the six charges against her.
Trial of Ghislaine Maxwell to resume with opening of defense’s caseDec. 16, 202102:11
The four women have already testified — sometimes in graphic detail — that Maxwell not only trained them to sexually satisfy Epstein but that she also sometimes participated in orgies with them.
Maxwell’s lawyers contend that she is being “scapegoated” by federal prosecutors because they can’t try Epstein, who hanged himself in a Manhattan jail two years ago while awaiting trial on charges of sex trafficking.
The defense began presenting its case on the 11th day of the closely watched trial in the Southern District of New York by swearing in Cimberly Espinosa, 55.
Espinosa told the court she worked as Maxwell’s assistant in New York City from 1996 to 2002.
“I highly respected her and looked up to her very much, and I learned a lot from her,” Espinosa said. “I attribute my career to her. She treated me fair, and it was fun. She was demanding, wanted things done fast, like yesterday.”
Espinosa said she thought Epstein and Maxwell were a couple for a time because they were “flirty” with each other. She said she often booked massages for them at a place in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood and was treated to one herself.
Epstein, she said, was a generous boss who paid for her personal trainer and got his employees tickets to see "The Lion King" on Broadway.
“He was a giver,” Espinosa said of Epstein.
Espinosa said she met Jane, the first woman who testified against Maxwell, several times and spoke with her mother.
Jane told the court, among other things, that she was 14 when Maxwell lured her into having sex with Epstein and soon she was taking part in orgies that included Maxwell and Epstein his palatial homes in Palm Beach, Florida, and New York City and at his New Mexico ranch.
Espinosa said Jane’s mother told her Epstein was her daughter’s godfather. She said she thought Jane was 18 and insisted she never saw Epstein or Maxwell behave inappropriately with her.
“I thought it was a loving relationship,” Espinosa said.
In an apparent bid to undermine the credibility of Jane and the three other accusers, the defense also called to the stand memory expert Elizabeth Loftus.
“When someone is exposed to misinformation of an incident, they will incorporate that, and that memory becomes inaccurate, and they will adopt that as their own memory,” said Loftus, a professor at the University of California, Irvine, who told the court that she has worked as a consultant for the CIA, the FBI and the IRS. She also testified at Harvey Weinstein’s 2020 rape trial.
Memory "doesn't work like a recording device," she said.