Ghislaine Maxwell witness refuses to take the stand again forcing prosecution to bring new case

·4-min read
Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell
Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell

A victim who testified in Ghislaine Maxwell’s sex-trafficking trial says she likely would not do so again if the British heiress was to be granted a second hearing.

That would force New York prosecutions to either put on a new case without one of their four witnesses, or find other alleged victims.

Maxwell, 60, was convicted in December of five counts of facilitating Jeffrey Epstein’s sexual abuse of girls, some as young as 14.

However, this week her attorneys filed a motion for a new trial after it emerged that two of the jurors only revealed that they had a history of sexual abuse during deliberations.

They said they believed that one juror’s account of past sexual abuse was a “compelling basis” to overturn Maxwell’s conviction and grant a new trial.

A source close to the case, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told The Telegraph that they did not think the woman could “go through it again.”

“A lot of the trauma resurfaced for her, and all these women. It took so much for them to do it the first time, I think reliving it would be too much to bear.

“The whole situation is just very unfortunate.”

Several of the victims who gave evidence at Maxwell’s federal trial did not come forward publicly with the allegations until decades after the abuse took place. Three who testified only agreed to do so under pseudonyms to protect their privacy.

One, Carolyn Andriano, waived her right to anonymity after the trial in an interview with the Daily Mail. Ms Andriano, 35, told the paper she spoke out as she “wanted people to know these terrible things have happened to me and that I am a survivor.”

Her mother said Ms Andriano, who told the court she is currently on a cocktail of drugs including Xanax and antidepressants, said that the case had taken such a huge emotional toll on the mother-of-four she has been unable to look after her children.

Ghislaine Maxwell speaks with her attorneys as she decides whether or not to testify during the trial - REUTERS/Jane Rosenberg
Ghislaine Maxwell speaks with her attorneys as she decides whether or not to testify during the trial - REUTERS/Jane Rosenberg

Another, who testified under the name “Jane”, told the New York court she did not come forward about the sexual abuse she suffered for years starting in 1994 when she was 14 because she feared the repercussions for her acting career.

Legal experts say Maxwell's team faces an uphill struggle. She would not be guaranteed a new trial even if the juror did not disclose his abuse on a questionnaire he filed out ahead of his selection. Cases of juror dishonesty that led to verdicts being overturned in the US generally involved jurors who deliberately lied in order to be selected.

One former prosecutor said speculated that the US government could put on an even stronger case if it was given a second shot, having learned lessons from the first.

That view was echoed by Brad Edwards, a lawyer who represents a number of Epstein victims.

"What has happened since the guilty verdict is more people have come forward, willing to share their stories about Ghislaine and testify, so I don't think a new trial would go any better for her. In fact, I think it would go worse for her," he told Insider.

"I'm not ultimately that worried about the end result.”

The government could draw upon the many dozens of victims of Epstein who allege they were groomed by Maxwell. Some 135 won payouts from the Epstein Victims’ Compensation Fund, though they first had to agree not to sue Maxwell through the civil courts.

Several victims, including Briton Sarah Ransome, watched the federal trial from the public gallery but was not one of the witnesses called to give evidence.

There is a possibility that Prince Andrew’s accuser, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, could be included in any second trial. However, it is thought prosecutors were concerned that details of Ms Giuffre’s account had changed over the years in the telling and re-telling of her story to the media over the years.

If her bid for a new trial is unsuccessful, Maxwell, who is facing up to 65 years in prison, is scheduled to be sentenced in June.