Ghislaine Maxwell refused to testify on Friday because her lawyers completed her defense after two days on charges of sex trafficking.
“Your Honor, the government has not proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt, so there is no need for me to testify,” Maxwell59, she said Friday afternoon, after Judge Alison Nathan offered her a standard opportunity to testify in her defense.
It was the first time Maxwell had been questioned during a roughly three-week trial. The case will be before the jury after the closing arguments, which begin on Monday.
Maxwell was not expected to testify – a family spokesman told US media earlier this week that she was “too fragile” to do so due to prison abuse.
But the brevity of her defense came as a surprise after her lawyers told the court a few days ago that they planned to call as many as 35 witnesses. In the end, they called only nine. Among them was an expert on false memories, who had previously testified on behalf of embarrassed film producer Harvey Weinstein.
The defense also called in several women who worked in the New York office of Jeffrey Epstein, the late sex offender who was Maxwell’s confidant. All admitted during cross-examination that they did not work or spend much time in private villas in Palm Beach or New York where he abused dozens of underage women.
Laura Menninger, one of Maxwell’s lawyers, prayed on Friday morning for more time to gather witnesses. “Our client’s life is in danger,” she told Judge Nathan, who eventually denied the request.
The government claimed that Maxwell, a British socialist and the daughter of the late journalist Baron Robert Maxwell, was instrumental in recruiting Epstein’s victims, and in some cases was involved in the abuse. It did so, they claim, to maintain access to the lavish lifestyle of the private jets and lavish villas Epstein provided.
She denied injustice. Her lawyers claimed she became a scapegoat for Epstein, who died by suicide in a New York prison cell a month after his 2019 arrest.
The most significant witness on Friday was Eva Dubin, a longtime friend of Epstein’s. The former Miss Sweden dated him during the 1980s and remained friendly after marrying hedge fund billionaire Glenn Dubin in 1994. Dubin told jurors that her three children consider Epstein an uncle, calling him “Uncle F”. They made him the godfather of one of their daughters.
Dubin said she could not recall meeting with a government witness, identified as “Jane”, who testified earlier in the trial that Epstein began abusing her at the age of 14. Flight logs showed that “Jane” flew Epstein’s private jet with the Dubins in 1998.
Jane testified that she participated in group sexual encounters with Epstein and others, including a woman she believed to be called “Eva.” But Dubin denied ever being involved in a “group sexual encounter” with her, saying “Absolutely not.”
Dubin, 60, admitted during cross-examination that she suffers from memory health problems. “It’s very difficult for me to remember anything far back. “Sometimes I can’t even remember things from last month,” she said. “It simply came to our notice then. I notice that. That was the problem. “