Jury signals verdict not near at Ghislaine Maxwell trial

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Ghislaine Maxwell

In this courtroom sketch, Ghislaine Maxwell, center right, speaks to her attorney Bobbi Sternheim, before being escorted to a jail cell by the U.S. Marshals, during Maxwell’s sex trafficking trial, Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Elizabeth Williams)

NEW YORK (AP) — The jury considering the fate of Ghislaine Maxwell at her sex trafficking trial finished a third full day of deliberations Monday with no sign that a verdict is near and no clear signal either that there is dissension in their ranks.

Jurors in Manhattan federal court asked for multi-colored sticky notes and a white board, along with transcripts of some trial testimony, the definition of “enticement” and a question on the law. Judge Alison J. Nathan referred them to her legal instructions that she read to them just before they began deliberations a week ago.

The judge also requested that they deliberate an extra hour beginning Tuesday, unless that created a hardship.

The British socialite is charged with recruiting and grooming teenagers as young as 14 to be sexually assaulted by financier Jeffrey Epstein. Maxwell’s lawyers say she was a U.S. government scapegoat after Epstein killed himself in 2019 in a Manhattan federal jail cell while awaiting a sex trafficking trial.

Maxwell, who was behind bars for her 60th birthday Saturday, was described as a central component to Epstein’s plans by four women who testified they were sexually abused as teenagers by Epstein with help from Maxwell when she was his girlfriend and afterward.

Maxwell’s lawyers said the memories of her accusers were corrupted by the passage of time and the influence of lawyers steering them toward multimillion-dollar payouts from a fund set up to compensate Epstein victims.

The jury, which deliberated two full days last week, already has asked to review the testimony of the four women, along with former Epstein housekeeper Juan Patricio Alessi. They have given little hint of their overall progress on six charges, including a sex trafficking count that carries a potential penalty of up to 40 years in prison.

On Monday, jurors asked for the transcript of testimony by “Matt,” the pseudonym of a television actor who testified that he is the ex-boyfriend of “Jane,” the pseudonym of an actor who is one of the four accusers who testified against Maxwell. The judge had ruled that some witnesses in the trial could testify with only first names or pseudonyms to protect their privacy.

Matt, who lived with Jane from 2007 to 2014, testified that Jane initially described Epstein as a godfather who helped her family pay bills after her father’s illness and death depleted their finances. She was 14 when she met Epstein.

He said she eventually told him that the help Epstein provided “wasn’t free,” but did not provide any details about what happened.

When he was asked what her demeanor was like when he asked Jane questions about her encounters with Epstein, he testified that she was “ashamed, embarrassed, horrified.”

Matt said she also told him that she felt more comfortable in her encounters with Epstein because there was a woman around. Matt said he contacted Jane after Maxwell’s July 2020 arrest and asked her if Maxwell was the woman she had referenced as making her feel more comfortable in her dealings with Epstein.

He testified that she confirmed Maxwell was the woman.

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