Ghislaine Maxwell jury seeks more witness transcripts

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Jurors have begun a fifth full day of deliberations in Ghislaine Maxwell's sex crimes trial (AFP/Handout) (Handout)
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  • Ghislaine Maxwell
    Ghislaine Maxwell
    Socialite
  • Jeffrey Epstein
    American financier

Jurors asked for transcripts on Wednesday of the testimony of five witnesses at the sex crimes trial of Ghislaine Maxwell as the judge suggested they work through the New Year's holidays if needed.

The 12-person jury has deliberated for four full days so far without reaching a verdict, amid rising concerns that surging Omicron infections could derail the trial of the 60-year-old British socialite.

In a note to Judge Alison Nathan on Tuesday, they said they were "making progress" in determining the fate of Maxwell, who could spend the rest of her life behind bars if convicted of recruiting and grooming young girls to be sexually abused by the late American financier Jeffrey Epstein.

The jury requested clarification from the judge on Wednesday regarding their schedule for deliberating for the remainder of this week.

Nathan told them they should convene every day until a verdict is reached, including New Year's Day on Saturday, and Sunday, unless they have "unmovable commitments."

Nathan again cited the risk of Covid cases amongst jurors and trial participants which could cause a "substantial delay" to proceedings.

"Of course by this I don't mean to pressure you in any way," she said. "You should take all the time you need."

The jurors asked to review the transcripts of five witnesses on Wednesday, including that of key defense witness Elizabeth Loftus, a memory expert.

Loftus, who has testified in approximately 300 trials, including those of Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby, testified that recollections become distorted over time and that "false memories" can be planted during questioning years later.

"The older the event is the more susceptible people are to having post-event suggestion contaminate their memory," she said.

Jurors also asked for the testimony of three other defense witnesses: that of Maxwell's former executive assistant Cimberly Espinosa and two FBI agents, Amanda Young and Jason Richards.

The other transcript requested was that of a prosecution witness, Shawn, a former boyfriend of one of Maxwell's accusers, a woman who was identified in court only as "Carolyn."

Maxwell, wearing a burgundy pullover, black trousers and black face mask, looked relaxed in court on Wednesday as she chatted with her attorneys.

She also appeared to have a brief conversation with a journalist which was inaudible to the courtroom.

- Unanimous decision -

The jury must reach a unanimous decision on any of the six counts facing Maxwell if she is to be convicted. If they fail to reach unanimity on any of the charges, the judge could declare a mistrial.

The charges against Maxwell stem from 1994 to 2004. Two of Epstein's alleged victims said they were as young as 14 when Maxwell allegedly began grooming them and arranging for them to give massages to Epstein that ended in sexual activity.

US prosecutors alleged that the daughter of former British newspaper baron Robert Maxwell was a knowing participant in the conduct of Epstein, who killed himself in a US jail in 2019 while awaiting his own sex crimes trial.

Prosecutor Alison Moe argued that Maxwell was "the key" to Epstein's scheme of enticing young girls to give him massages, during which he would sexually abuse them.

Maxwell's defense team countered that there was a lack of evidence to convict and questioned the accusers' ability to recollect quarter-century-old events.

The team also argued that Maxwell was being used as a "scapegoat" for Epstein's crimes after he evaded justice.

Maxwell, who turned 60 on Christmas Day, did not testify but in a defiant statement to the court said prosecutors had failed to prove her guilt.

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