Ghislaine Maxwell trial jury begins fifth day of deliberations as judge extends deliberations over Covid fears

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  • Ghislaine Maxwell
    Ghislaine Maxwell
    Socialite
  • Robert Maxwell
    Czechoslovak-born British media proprietor and Member of Parliament (1923-1991)
  • Jeffrey Epstein
    American financier
A court sketch of Ghislaine Maxwell sitting near her defence lawyers as deliberations extended into a second week (REUTERS)
A court sketch of Ghislaine Maxwell sitting near her defence lawyers as deliberations extended into a second week (REUTERS)

The jury in Ghislaine Maxwell’s sex abuse trial was due to reconvene on Tuesday, following three full days of deliberations in which jurors have reviewed testimony from four women who said she set them up for abuse.

The British socialite, 60, is accused of recruiting and grooming the four women to have sexual encounters with the late financier Jeffrey Epstein when they were teenagers. Over a three-week trial, jurors heard emotional and explicit testimony from the women, three of whom said Maxwell herself touched their naked bodies.

The daughter of late media baron Robert Maxwell has pleaded not guilty to six counts of sex trafficking and other crimes. Her lawyers argue prosecutors are treating her as a scapegoat for Epstein, who killed himself in 2019 in a Manhattan jail cell while awaiting trial on sex abuse charges.

Deliberations in Manhattan federal court began on the afternoon of December 20 and resumed on Monday after a four-day break for Christmas, during which US District Judge Alison Nathan pleaded with jurors to be careful given the surge in Covid-19 cases in the New York area driven by the Omicron variant.

Nathan on Tuesday said jurors would deliberate for at least one hour longer than usual if needed due to an “astronomical spike” in infections.

“We now face a high and escalating risk that jurors and/or trial participants may need to quarantine,” Nathan told prosecutors and defense attorneys outside the presence of the jury.

“We are very simply at a different place regarding the epidemic than we were even a week ago.”

As of Tuesday, jurors will deliberate until 6pm if no verdict is reached, one hour later than usual.

“I don’t mean to pressure you in any way,” she said. “You should take all the time that you need.”

During deliberations, jurors asked Nathan for transcripts of the four women's testimony, as well as the testimony of other witnesses prosecutors called to corroborate their accounts.

Maxwell’s defense repeatedly questioned the women’s credibility during cross-examination, arguing their memories had become corrupted over the years and that they did not mention any involvement by Maxwell in earlier tellings of their abuse by Epstein.

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