NEW YORK (AP) – Jurors have reached a verdict in the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell, a British socialite charged with recruiting and grooming teenage girls to be sexually abused by the financier Jeffrey Epstein.
The verdict is expected to be announced shortly in the New York City courtroom where Maxwell has been on trial since late November. Deliberations began Dec. 20, halting after Wednesday for the Christmas holiday before resuming Monday.
Prosecutors say Epstein could not have sexually abused girls as young as 14 without Maxwell serving as his “lady of the house.” Maxwell’s lawyers say she is innocent.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.
NEW YORK (AP) – Jurors deliberating the fate of Ghislaine Maxwell at her sex trafficking trial were told Wednesday they would have to work through the New Year’s holiday after they inquired about that possibility – the latest sign that a verdict was not near in the monthlong trial.
On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Alison J. Nathan cited an “astronomical spike” in the number of coronavirus cases in New York City as she explained to lawyers out of the jury’s presence why she was asking jurors to work at least an extra hour each day and every day through the week.
Minutes after arriving to begin deliberations Wednesday, the jury sent the judge a note asking if they were also required to work on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, with the latter falling on a Saturday. Nathan sent them a note saying that they were, unless any of them faced a “substantial hardship” because of immovable commitments.
The jury also asked for transcripts of testimony from five trial witnesses as it weighs the evidence prosecutors presented to try to prove allegations that Maxwell recruited and groomed teenage girls from 1994 to 2004 for financier Jeffrey Epstein – and herself – to sexually abuse.
Maxwell appeared encouraged by the long deliberations, with her eyes lighting up after the judge received a request by the jury for transcripts of testimony from some defense witnesses. They included a memory expert who testified that memories can be corrupted over time by outside influences.
Defense lawyers say that Maxwell was made a scapegoat by the U.S. government after Epstein killed himself in a Manhattan federal jail in August 2019 as he awaited his own sex trafficking trial.
Maxwell, 60, was arrested in July 2020 and, deemed a flight risk, has been held without bail ever since. Nathan has repeatedly rejected bail attempts, including a $28.5 million package that would have required Maxwell to submit to 24-hour armed guards at her residence to ensure her appearance in court.