Dozens of witnesses will be called to speak in Ghislaine Maxwell’s defence

The British socialite’s lawyers say 35 witnesses from New York and beyond will give evidence in the sex trafficking trial

This courtroom sketch shows defence attorney Laura Menninger, far left, as she cross examines a witness. AP
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

Jurors in Ghislaine Maxwell’s sex trafficking trial are set to hear from as many as 35 defence witnesses when the case resumes in lower Manhattan later this week, according to court filings.

Prosecutors wrote to Judge Alison Nathan on Sunday asking for more details about the planned witnesses, whose names have not been made public, and in what order they will take the stand.

They rested their case on Friday and Ms Maxwell’s defence team is set to begin on Thursday – though it remains unclear whether the British socialite will testify at the federal court in the Southern District of New York.

Ms Maxwell, 59, has pleaded not guilty to eight counts over her alleged role in recruiting and grooming four teenagers for the billionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein to abuse between 1994 and 2004.

In a letter to the court on Sunday, defence lawyer Bobbi Sternheim said attorneys were “still trying to make travel arrangements” for witnesses coming from “out of the district and abroad”.

Three witnesses have “requested to testify under their first names or under a pseudonym”, said the letter.

A court decision on whether witnesses can use aliases, as was the case for the Ms Maxwell’s accusers, could “impact the willingness of these witnesses to testify”, continued the letter.

Two weeks of charged and explicit testimony from four women wrapped up on Friday, spotlighting Epstein’s lifestyle of luxury mansions, private jets and the sexual exploitation of teenagers.

The accusers said Ms Maxwell groomed them for Epstein, who killed himself aged 66 in 2019 in a Manhattan jail cell while awaiting trial on sex abuse charges.

Defence lawyers say Ms Maxwell is a “convenient stand in” for Epstein.

Updated: December 13, 2021, 8:14 PM