Defence rests in Ghislaine Maxwell trial

Less than two hours after telling the judge she would not give evidence on her own behalf, Ms Maxwell's defence team rested

In this courtroom sketch, Ghislaine Maxwell sits with defence lawyer Jeffrey Pagliuca, listening to evidence in her trial. AP
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Ghislaine Maxwell's defence rested its case on Friday after two days of presenting evidence on the British socialite's behalf.

About a half-hour after Ms Maxwell told the court that she would not give evidence in her own defence, the defence rested its case.

US District Judge Alison Nathan told jurors to return on Monday when the parties will give their closing arguments.

When Ms Maxwell said she would not speak in her own defence, she stated that she was doing so as prosecutors had not proven their case beyond a reasonable doubt.

“Your Honour, the government has not proven the case beyond a reasonable doubt and so there is no need for me to testify,” Ms Maxwell said to the judge.

Ms Maxwell has pleaded not guilty to eight counts of sex trafficking and other crimes for reportedly recruiting and grooming girls for the late financier Jeffrey Epstein to abuse.

The accused in US criminal trials is not required to give evidence, and often does not, since the burden of proof is on prosecutors.

Witness Eva Andersson is questioned by defence lawyer Jeffrey Pagliuca during the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell, the Jeffrey Epstein associate accused of sex trafficking, in a courtroom sketch in New York City. Reuters

The defence had indicated it planned to call 35 witnesses in an effort to persuade a New York jury that Ms Maxwell did not recruit and sexually abuse girls with Epstein.

But after a day and a half of evidence, they had called only nine to the stand — with others dropped, delayed or otherwise unavailable — leaving Ms Nathan increasingly exasperated.

“I have a rule. You have your next witness or you rest your case. We're not delaying the trial,” Ms Nathan said at one point.

Ms Maxwell faces an effective life sentence if convicted of six counts of enticing and transporting minors for sex.

One witness produced on Friday was a former Miss Sweden who dated Epstein between 1983 and early 1991 and remained friends with him for years afterwards.

Eva Andersson-Dubin, a former model and wife of high-profile financier Glenn Dubin, read out flight logs that showed she, her husband and three children flew regularly on Epstein's private planes and regularly holidayed at his Palm Beach home between 1994 and 2004.

She said she never saw any inappropriate conduct between Epstein and teenagers.

But she also admitted under cross-examination that she has memory problems because of what she believed was a “medical issue".

The defence also briefly questioned two FBI agents on Friday before calling Michelle Healy, a former receptionist of Epstein's.

But the defence said it was dropping a witness residing in London and that it was also struggling to locate a witness identified as “Kelly”, who was subpoenaed on December 1.

Prosecutor Lara Pomerantz questions psychologist Elizabeth Loftus during the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell, the Jeffrey Epstein associate accused of sex trafficking, in a courtroom sketch in New York City. Reuters

A day earlier, Ms Nathan had rejected a request that three witnesses be allowed to give evidence anonymously. She also rejected the defence’s attempts to call two lawyers for accusers of Epstein to the stand.

Prosecutor Maurene Comey accused the defence of delaying tactics.

“The defence has had an extraordinary amount of time to prepare their case,” she said.

Agencies contributed to this report

Updated: December 18, 2021, 11:18 AM