Jury deliberations will resume Tuesday in Ghislaine Maxwell’s trial

Credit…Stéphanie Keith for the New York Times

Prosecutors sorted through the evidence, blindly accepted the accusers’ shifting narratives and had failed to prove their case against Ghislaine Maxwell, a defense lawyer told the jury as Ms Maxwell’s sex trafficking trial came to an end on Monday .

In alternately biting, sarcastic and indignant argument, lawyer Laura Menninger urged jurors to reject the government’s arguments and be skeptical of the evidence she called thin and the testimony she brought forward. qualified as fragile.

“The government wants you to speculate over and over again,” Ms. Menninger said, later adding, “Ms. Maxwell doesn’t have to prove her innocence to you. You already know that.”

In addition to attacking the government case and the motives and recollections of Ms Maxwell’s accusers, Ms Menninger has targeted Jeffrey Epstein, whom she said the trial proved to be a “master manipulator.”

“Everyone knew Jeffrey was keeping secrets from Ghislaine except Ghislaine,” Ms Menninger said, noting that house staff and pilots had hidden Mr Epstein’s other girlfriends from Ms Maxwell.

Towards the end of her oral argument, Ms Menninger said Ms Maxwell was on trial because of her relationship with Mr Epstein. “It might have been the biggest mistake of her life, but it wasn’t a crime,” she said.

Ms Menninger spent most of her two hours and 15 minutes of closing explaining to the jury the testimony of the four women who testified to accuse Ms Maxwell of grooming them for sexual abuse as teenagers.

She pointed to inconsistencies in their testimony – especially when it did not match their previous statements to law enforcement officials, or their contemporary accounts.

She also focused on the financial settlements witnesses had received from Mr Epstein’s estate. She described a victim’s lawyer as “not a dummy”, saying that after Mr Epstein’s death, the lawyer knew there was a “heap of money” for her client to pursue.

“All of these witnesses have changed their stories over and over again,” Ms. Menninger said. “Why?”

Ms Menninger argued that the government’s cause was based on the “mistaken memories” of the four women. She relied on the testimony of a defense witness, an expert who testified on the malleability of memory. “Memory weakens over time and memory can be affected and corrupted by post-event contamination,” Ms. Menninger said.

“The vividness of a memory doesn’t make it more precise,” Ms. Menninger said.

Ms. Menninger also attacked the credibility of other government witnesses. She described a witness – a former employee who described Ms Maxwell as the “lady of the house” who set the rules for Mr. Epstein’s house – as “a two-time burglar, obviously with an ax grinding” .

She pointed to the felony convictions and drug use of another witness, the former boyfriend of one of the accusers.

Ms Menninger also strongly objected to prosecutors’ assertion – in opening statements and in oral argument – that Ms Maxwell’s involvement in Mr Epstein’s scheme was motivated by money and maintaining his style of luxurious living.

A prosecutor earlier today cited banking documents which showed Mr Epstein transferred $ 30.7 million to Ms Maxwell between 1999 and 2007, which includes some of the years in which she was charged with the helping to recruit, prepare and sexually assault young adolescents. .

“The government is making a big show of these big dollar transfers,” Menninger said. “It’s a thin testimony,” she continued.

She said the prosecution was asking the jury to speculate. “Speculation is not proof,” Ms Menninger said, adding that it was not even clear that Ms Maxwell “knew these transfers were being made on her behalf.”


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