By Luc Cohen NEW YORK (Reuters) -Ghislaine Maxwell’s defense lawyers on Tuesday asked a judge to prevent the brother of a witness who accused the British socialite of setting her up for abuse by late financier Jeffrey Epstein from testifying at Maxwell’s sex abuse trial. Prosecutors anticipate calling the brother of a woman known by […]
Ghislaine Maxwell’s lawyers ask to bar accuser’s brother from testifying at trial
By Luc Cohen
NEW YORK (Reuters) -Ghislaine Maxwell’s defense lawyers on Tuesday asked a judge to prevent the brother of a witness who accused the British socialite of setting her up for abuse by late financier Jeffrey Epstein from testifying at Maxwell’s sex abuse trial.
Prosecutors anticipate calling the brother of a woman known by the pseudonym Jane to corroborate certain aspects of the account she gave on the stand last week. Jane said Maxwell groomed her for abuse by Epstein starting when she was 14 in the mid-1990s and participated in some sexual encounters.
Maxwell, 59, faces eight counts of sex trafficking and other charges for allegedly recruiting teenage girls for Epstein to abuse between 1994 and 2004. She has pleaded not guilty, and her lawyers argue she is being scapegoated for Epstein’s alleged crimes because he is dead.
On Tuesday, Maxwell attorney Laura Menninger said prosecutors had informed her that Jane had called her brother, known by the pseudonym Brian, after her testimony and talked to him about it. Menninger raised concerns that Jane could have coached Brian on what to say.
“I’m very troubled and concerned,” Menninger said, adding that Jane had told Brian that Menninger – who cross-examined her – was “an expletive that rhymes with front.”
Prosecutors said Maxwell’s attorneys were free to cross-examine Brian on what he discussed with Jane, and that he had talked about his expected testimony with them prior to the phone call so there was no risk that Jane had coached him. U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan said she would consider the issue.
Prosecutors were also expected to show jurors photographs depicting Maxwell’s relationship with Epstein during the trial’s seventh day. The trial is expected to last into January.
The cache of digital photographs seized from Epstein’s New York home during a 2019 raid also includes images of two women who have accused Maxwell of serving them up to Epstein while they were teenagers. They are depicted in various states of undress, prosecutors indicated on Monday.
The pictures could bolster the credibility of the accusers’ accounts of abuse by Epstein. Maxwell’s attorneys have challenged the accuracy of their memories, arguing that their recollections could have been corrupted over time or been clouded by drug and alcohol use.
Shortly after his July 2019 arrest on sex abuse charges, Epstein died by suicide at the age of 66 in a Manhattan jail cell while awaiting trial.
(Reporting by Luc Cohen in New York; Editing by Noeleen Walder, Sandra Maler and Mark Porter)