Ghislaine Maxwell jury ‘making good progress’ as judge warns Covid could derail trial

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  • Ghislaine Maxwell
    Ghislaine Maxwell
    Socialite
  • Alison Nathan
    American judge
  • Jeffrey Epstein
    American financier
 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

The jury in the Ghislaine Maxwell sex trafficking trial said they were making “good progress” at the end of the fourth full day of deliberations.

Judge Alison J. Nathan granted jurors’ request to leave at 5pm, an hour earlier than planned, but told them they were expected to work toward a verdict the rest of the week, if needed.

Earlier on Tuesday, she had told lawyers that the "astronomical spike" in the number of coronavirus cases in New York necessitated jurors working longer hours.

It is feared that if jurors catch Covid, it could potentially force a mistrial.

Prosecutors have alleged that British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell recruited underage women in a “pyramid scheme” of abuse for Jeffrey Epstein between 1994 and 2004. She denies the charges.

Her defence has claimed she is being used as a scapegoat after Epstein, a disgraced financier, died by suicide in federal prison while awaiting his own sex trafficking trial.

"We now face a high and escalating risk that jurors and trial participants may need to quarantine," Judge Nathan said on Tuesday.

"We are simply in a different place regarding the pandemic than we were a week ago."

The jury had been expected to work until 6pm, but were released early after telling Judge Nathan: “Our deliberations are moving along and we are making progress."

She had considered telling the jury that they must deliberate every day including the weekend to reach a verdict, but decided against it on Tuesday after Maxwell’s defence protested.

Laura Menninger, a defence lawyer, told the judge on Monday that any suggestion that the jury stay later "is beginning to sound like urging them to hurry up."

"We would object to trying to urge them to stay later if they are not asking to do so and aren’t expressing any difficulty in proceeding with the deliberations that they are currently undertaking," Ms Menninger said.

Maxwell was arrested in July 2020 and remained in jail while facing the six charges after the judge repeatedly rejected bail attempts.

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