Jury Selection Begins For Jeffrey Epstein’s Ex-Girlfriend | News from USA®

By LARRY NEUMEISTER, Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) – The week-long jury selection process for the federal sex trafficking trial of the ex-girlfriend of financier Jeffrey Epstein, a British socialite, began Thursday with a video introduction from the judge in which she called jury trials “the foundation of American Democracy.”

Defendant Ghislaine Maxwell has said she was innocent of accusations she recruited non-adult teens to be sexually abused by Epstein from 1994 to 2004, Judge Alison J. Nathan told 132 potential jurors.

The judge warned potential jurors not to discuss the case with anyone or to research it, on the internet or elsewhere.

She said the final jury made up of 12 jurors and six alternates will be called upon to deliver a verdict after a trial that is expected to last around six weeks, based solely on the evidence they see in the courtroom.

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Although the jurors will not be sequestered, their privacy will be guaranteed as they will be referenced by numbers and will be transported to and from the trial every day, Nathan said.

“Jury trials are part of the foundation of American democracy,” she told them.

Potential jurors then filled out questionnaires and were sent home, the first of some 750 people over three days expected to answer written questions. Oral examination of jurors begins in the middle of the month, with opening statements scheduled for November 29.

When the questionnaires were completed, neither Maxwell, the judge nor the lawyers were in the great room where people were seated in chairs spaced apart for safety to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in the courthouse.

The 51 questions on the questionnaire were largely aimed at determining whether the personal experience of the prospective jurors could prevent one of them from making a fair judgment on the facts of the case. People were also asked to say what they had heard about the case and whether it had led them to form an opinion on it.

“There is nothing wrong with hearing something about this case,” the questionnaire read in bold print before potential jurors were asked whether and how they might have heard something about him. Maxwell and if they had ever made up their minds about his guilt or innocence. .

He also asked if they had verbally expressed or posted an opinion about Maxwell or Epstein on social media or online and whether they or a family member had ever supported, protested or worked for or against any laws or policies. regulations or organizations relating to sex trafficking, sex crimes against minors, sexual abuse or sexual harassment.

The questionnaire also asked whether the sexually suggestive or sexually explicit conduct that would emerge at trial could make it difficult for a prospective juror to be fair and impartial.

Maxwell, 59, has been in federal prison in Brooklyn since his arrest in July 2020. Epstein, her ex-boyfriend, was found unconscious in his cell in a Manhattan federal dungeon in August 2019 while awaiting a trial for sex trafficking. His death was considered a suicide.

Maxwell’s attorney Bobbi Sternheim on Wednesday resumed a request to release his client on $ 28.5 million bail, saying the appalling detention conditions and harsh treatment of Maxwell made it difficult for him to prepare for trial.

Her bail application, already denied three times by the judge, was included in a letter in which she claimed Maxwell had been sexually inappropriately touched by correctional officers on multiple occasions.

In an email response to a question about Maxwell’s treatment, Federal Bureau of Prisons spokeswoman Randilee Giamusso wrote that the office declined to comment on the conditions of detention of any particular inmate.

However, added Giamusso, the office “takes allegations of staff misconduct seriously and in accordance with national policy, refers all allegations for investigation, if warranted. Incidents of potential criminal activity or misconduct at BOP facilities are fully investigated with a view to possible administrative discipline or criminal prosecution. “

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Martin E. Berry