Jeffrey Epstein was a ‘21st-century James Bond’ targeted for his mystery and money, Ghislaine Maxwell defence says

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Ghislaine Maxwell’s defence team compared Jeffrey Epstein to a “21st-century James Bond” whose wealth and mystery stirred the public’s interest while his accusers shook the “money train” for millions of dollars.

Ms Maxwell, meanwhile, was compared to humanity’s first victim of sexism dating back to the Biblical creation of the universe.

In her opening statement during Ms Maxwell’s trial on sex trafficking charges, defence attorney Bobbi Sternheim said women have been blamed, villainized and punished more for the bad behaviour of men ever since “Eve was accused of tempting Adam for the apple”.

She told the court that the death of Epstein left Ms Maxwell to fill a “gaping hole” in the pursuit of justice for the women who accuse him of sexual abuse.

“I said before Epstein was a manipulator… but he was also a mysterious man without attachment. He had no wife. He had no children. And he had no boss. Yet he attracted all these rich and powerful people before and after his fall from grace back around 2008,” according to Court House News.

“In many regards, he was like a 21st-century James Bond. His mystery has stirred interest.”

Watch: Trial of Ghislaine Maxwell, Jeffrey Epstein's former girlfriend, begins

Ms Sternheim compared Epstein to a modern-day 007 and Ms Maxwell’s prosecution to the original sin just moments after dismissing the case against her as a “once-upon-a-time narration”.

Ms Sternheim told jurors that the case was about memory, manipulation, media and money. Ms Maxwell’s accusers, she said, had faulty memory and had been manipulated to sue for damages following the death of Epstein.

"Memories fade over time... you will learn that not only have memories faded, but they have been contaminated by outside information, constant media reports and other influences," Ms Sternheim said.

In addition to framing Ms Maxwell as a scapegoat for men who behaved badly, Ms Sternheim suggested the trial could be motivated by a “desire for a big jackpot of money”.

“She’s not Jeffrey Epstein. She’s not like Jeffrey Epstein or any of the powerful men, moguls and media giants who abuse women,” Ms Sternheim said, according to the Associated Press.

“He’s the proverbial elephant in the room. He is not visible, but he is consuming this entire courtroom and overflow courtrooms where other members of the public are viewing,” she said.

In the prosecution’s opening statement, Assistant US Attorney Lara Elizabeth Pomerantz said Ms Maxwell was a “partner in crime” Epstein in a “pyramid scheme” of sexual abuse.

Ms Maxwell was involved in “every detail of Epstein’s life when they enticed girls as young as 14 to the so-called massages in which sex in exchange for money and gifts became “casual and normal”.

“She was in on it from the start. The defendant and Epstein lured their victims with a promise of a bright future, only to sexually exploit them,” Ms Pomerantz said. “The defendant was the lady of the house,” she added.

Watch: Analysis - Trial to focus on Maxwell, not Epstein

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