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NEW YORK — Ghislaine Maxwell lured teenager girls into a trap for Jeffrey Epstein to sexually abuse and was the financier's partner in crime, a prosecutor said in her closing argument at the British socialite's criminal trial on Monday.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Alison Moe argued that Maxwell's presence made young girls feel comfortable spending time with Epstein. Otherwise, receiving an invitation to spend time with a middle-aged man would have seemed "creepy" and "set off alarm bells," Moe said.
"Epstein could not have done this alone," Moe said. "When that man is accompanied by a posh, smiling, respectable, age-appropriate woman, that's when everything starts to seem legitimate. And when that woman … acts like it's totally normal for that man to touch those girls, it lures them into a trap."
Maxwell, 59, is charged with sex trafficking and other crimes. Prosecutors say she recruited and groomed four teenage girls to be abused by the late financier between 1994 and 2004.
Maxwell has pleaded not guilty. Her attorneys argue that she is being treated as a stand-in for Epstein, who killed himself in a Manhattan jail cell in 2019 at the age of 66 while awaiting trial on sex abuse charges. The defense has sought to portray the accounts of her four accusers as not credible.
Moe's closing argument is expected to last up to two-and-a-half hours. Maxwell's defense will then present its summation before the jury begins deliberating.
Moe sought to rebut the defense's argument that Maxwell was not aware of any crimes committed by Epstein. She argued that Maxwell was Epstein's "right hand," pointing to testimony from the former house manager at Epstein's Palm Beach, Florida, estate.
Two of the accusers said they were first abused by Epstein when they were 14 years old at the Palm Beach property. They both said Maxwell touched their breasts while they were nude.
"Of course Maxwell knew what was going on at that house," Moe said. "She was Epstein's partner in crime. And in that house, behind closed doors, Maxwell and Epstein were committing horrifying crimes."