Readers like you keep news free for everyone.

More than 5,000 readers have already pitched in to keep free access to The Journal.

For the price of one cup of coffee each week you can help keep paywalls away.

Support us today
Not now
Friday 1 December 2023 Dublin: -2°C
Alamy Stock Photo A courtroom sketch of Ghislaine Maxwell during her trial.
New York

Judge prods Ghislaine Maxwell jury to work longer hours due to 'astronomical' Covid spike

Maxwell is accused of recruiting and grooming young girls to be sexually abused by financier Jeffrey Epstein.

LAST UPDATE | Dec 28th 2021, 5:00 PM

THE JUDGE PRESIDING over the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell has cited an “astronomical spike” in the number of coronavirus cases in New York City as she explained why she was urging jurors to work longer hours.

Judge Alison J Nathan said aloud what had largely gone unmentioned in her previous requests to get the jury to work an extra day last week and longer hours this week as it decides whether Maxwell recruited and groomed teenage girls to be sexually abused by Jeffrey Epstein.

The jury declined to work an extra day last week.

“We now face a high and escalating risk that jurors and trial participants may need to quarantine,” Judge Nathan told lawyers.

“We are simply in a different place regarding the pandemic than we were a week ago.”

Late on Monday, the judge told jurors they should expect to deliberate until at least 6pm beginning on Tuesday rather than stopping at 5pm, as they had earlier.

Fuelled by the Omicron variant, coronavirus cases in the city have rocketed from an average of about 3,400 a day in the week that ended December 12 to 22,000 in the week that ended on Sunday.

Laura Menninger, a defence lawyer, told Judge Nathan on Monday any suggestion that the jury stay later “is beginning to sound like urging them to hurry up”.

“We would object to trying to urge them to stay later if they are not asking to do so and aren’t expressing any difficulty in proceeding with the deliberations that they are currently undertaking,” Ms Menninger said.

Ms Menninger noted the jury was continuing to request transcripts of trial testimony and other materials that indicate they are working diligently.

Tuesday marked the fourth full day of deliberations as jurors decide Maxwell’s fate on six charges alleging she played a crucial role in Epstein’s sexual abuse of teenage girls between 1994 and 2004.

Defence lawyers have said Maxwell, 60, is being used as a scapegoat by prosecutors after the US government was embarrassed by Epstein’s suicide at a federal jail in Manhattan in August 2019 while he awaited a sex trafficking trial.

Maxwell was arrested in July 2020 and has remained in jail after Judge Nathan repeatedly rejected bail attempts. 


One of the six counts Maxwell is charged with relates to enticement of a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts. Another is conspiracy to entice minors to travel to engage in illegal sex acts.

They also asked to read trial transcripts from an ex-Florida police officer and a former pilot of Epstein’s.

US prosecutors argued that the daughter of former British newspaper baron Robert Maxwell was a knowing participant in the conduct of Epstein, who killed himself in a US jail in 2019 while awaiting his own sex crimes trial.

Maxwell did not testify but in a defiant statement to the court said prosecutors had failed to prove her guilt.

The jury must reach a unanimous decision on any of the six counts facing Maxwell if she is to be convicted. If they fail to reach unanimity on any of the charges, the judge could declare a mistrial.

The charges against Maxwell stem from 1994 to 2004. Two of Epstein’s alleged victims said they were as young as 14 when Maxwell allegedly began grooming them and arranging for them to give massages to Epstein that ended in sexual activity.

“Jane” detailed how Maxwell recruited her at summer camp and made her feel “special.”

She said sexual encounters with Epstein became routine, with Maxwell sometimes present.

Another, going by “Carolyn,” said she was usually paid $300 after sexual encounters with Epstein, often by Maxwell herself.

A third alleged victim was Annie Farmer, now 42, who said Maxwell fondled her breasts when she was a teenager at the New Mexico ranch owned by Epstein.

Prosecutor Alison Moe has argued Maxwell was “the key” to Epstein’s scheme of enticing young girls to give him massages, during which he would sexually abuse them.

Maxwell’s defense team countered that there was a lack of evidence to convict and questioned the accusers’ ability to recollect quarter-century-old events.

The team also argued that Maxwell was being used as a “scapegoat” for Epstein’s crimes after he evaded justice.

Additional reporting by Press Association

© AFP 2021