Attorneys Deliver Closing Arguments in Ghislaine Maxwell Trial

By Dave Paone
Dave Paone
Dave Paone
Dave Paone covers New York City.
December 20, 2021 Updated: December 21, 2021

Both the prosecution and the defense gave their closing arguments to the jury in Ghislaine Maxwell’s sex-trafficking trial in federal court on Dec. 20.

Speaking for the prosecution, attorney Alison Moe addressed the jury for more than two hours.

Moe described Maxwell as “dangerous” and “a sophisticated predator who knew exactly what she was doing.”

“It’s time to hold her accountable,” she said.

The courtroom podium was turned 90 degrees so Moe faced the jury.

Seated a few feet behind her, at the defense table and in view of the jury, Maxwell spent the first half hour of Moe’s monologue looking through a stack of photographs, affixing Post-It notes on some and writing notes on them. Sometimes she removed a Post-It from one photo and attached it to another.

Moe spelled out her eight reasons why Maxwell is guilty.

The first was Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein were “partners in crime,” and the pair worked in tandem the entire time.

The second was, “She ran the same playbook over, and over, and over again, as she exploited young girls.”

Moe was referring to expert witness Dr. Lisa Rocchio’s five stages of grooming.

The third, fourth and fifth were the testimonies of three of the alleged victims.

Moe detailed which testimonies corresponded with which of the six charges against Maxwell.

The sixth was the directories Maxwell and Epstein kept with names and numbers of young girls. One such book was admitted into evidence.

The seventh was how Maxwell’s opulent lifestyle was dependent on Epstein’s money.

“Maxwell got millions of dollars from Epstein,” she said, specifying the number at $30 million.

“You know exactly what that money is for,” she said. “It was payment for committing terrible crimes with Jeffrey Epstein.”

And lastly was the timeline.

“It’s obvious Maxwell spent a lifetime aiding and abetting Epstein’s crimes,” said Moe.

She went over each count, and how witness testimony connects to each.

Near the end, defense attorney Jeffrey Pagliuca, who was seated next to Maxwell, shuffled through the photographs.

Moe poked holes in the entire defense, often calling testimony and evidence “disastrous.”

She ended with asking the jury to us its common sense.

“Maxwell is guilty,” she said.

Then it was Laura Menninger’s turn for the defense.

Menninger began with, “Ghislaine Maxwell is an innocent woman, wrongfully accused of crimes she did not commit.”

She went on to blame Epstein for the crimes. “Ghislaine Maxwell is not Jeffrey Epstein.”

Menninger accused the alleged victims of being gold diggers who “lawyered up” before talking to the FBI.

Her biggest argument was the inconsistencies of the alleged victims’ stories and how “the truth was manipulated and changed over time.”

She also questioned the memories of other witnesses.

In a moment of colorful prose, she claimed the prosecution is making Maxwell out to be “Cruella de Vil and The Devil Wears Prada wrapped up into one.”

For about 45 minutes of Menninger’s two-hour summation, she spoke of Jane and her poor memory. “She got her dates wrong by three years,” she said.

Menninger also reminded the jury that in many instances, witnesses could not place Maxwell at the scene of the alleged abuse and could not confirm she actually trafficked anyone.

She also reminded the jury that each of the six counts has multiple elements (up to four) and if her client is not guilty of one element, then she’s not guilty of the entire charge.

Menninger ended with, “I demand that you acquit Ms. Maxwell of every, single count of which she’s charged.”

Prosecuting attorney Maurene Comey had a 37-minute rebuttal, calling the defense’s argument a “sideshow” and using the word “distraction” several times as well as “desperate.”

Her biggest assertion was that the memories of the alleged victims are accurate because one remembers “core events” (being molested) and not “peripheral” ones (exact dates).

Comey ended with, “The defendant is guilty.”

Judge Alison Nathan charged the jury, giving detailed instructions on each indictment and how they’re to go about deliberation.

The prosecution called several witnesses over 10 days while the defense called far fewer over two days.

Just prior to the defense’s announcement to rest on Dec. 17, Nathan instructed Maxwell regarding her right to testify in her own defense—or not testify—and how the jury cannot use that against her.

Maxwell spoke in court for the first time during the trial that day, saying, “The government has not proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt, and so there’s no need for me to testify.”

The jury will have its first, full day of deliberations on Dec. 21.

Dave Paone
Dave Paone covers New York City.