Accused sex trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell wants to prevent prosecutors from mentioning some of the words most associated with her case in front of a jury, including “victims,” “minor victims” or allegations of “rape” by Jeffrey Epstein.
The request became public in a filing late on Monday evening, previewing more than a dozen motions Maxwell’s legal team plans to file attempting to exclude or suppress evidence and testimony.
In the lead-up to a U.S. criminal trial, lawyers typically file so-called motions in limine to prevent one of the parties from eliciting testimony or introducing evidence believed to be inflammatory, prejudicial or irrelevant. Maxwell’s lawyer Jeffrey S. Pagliuca previewed 13 such motions in a three-page notice, showing the broad outlines of their requests.
The details of the defense team’s requests or their legal reasoning have not been made public by press time—but the titles of the motions are eye-opening.
“Motion to Preclude Testimony About Any Alleged ‘Rape’ by Jeffrey Epstein,” the 11th on the list reads.
“Motion to Preclude Reference to the Accusers as ‘Victims’ or ‘Minor Victims,'” the 12th is named.
The phrase “minor victim” appears no fewer than 20 times in Maxwell’s 24-page superseding indictment, which focuses on four such alleged victims. Those four hardly comprise the suspected universe of Epstein accusers. The late pedophile’s estate recently paid out almost $125 million to roughly 150 people from a fund designed to compensate victims.
With trial slated to begin on Nov. 29, Maxwell’s attorneys want to keep prosecutors from uttering the phrase to a jury. They also proposed a secretive process of screening potential jurors through questioning by defense counsel outside the view and earshot of the press and public. In the past, they have claimed that such measures are justified by the intense media coverage their client’s case has attracted.
“A tsunami of reporting in every conceivable form – newspapers, magazines, books, television, radio, video streaming services, podcasts, social media platforms – has broadcast this case locally, nationally, and globally,” Maxwell’s other attorney Bobbi Sternheim wrote in an Oct. 12 memo. “Without a doubt, and without any credible evidentiary basis, Ms. Maxwell has been tried, convicted, and condemned in the court of public opinion.”
Among her many motions to exclude evidence, Maxwell wants to bar admission of evidence related to the third of four accusers. She also asked to exclude “evidence of alleged flight,” a government exhibit she claimed to be an “unauthenticated hearsay document from suspect sources,” and items seized during a search of 358 El Brillo Way on Oct. 20, 2005.
That is the address of Epstein’s Palm Beach, Fla. home, which was searched before his controversial plea deal years later that included a provision purportedly shielding his alleged co-conspirators.
U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan, who is presiding over Maxwell’s trial, previously ruled that Epstein’s 2008 plea deal does not shield Maxwell from prosecution.
Maxwell’s defense also asked the judge to exclude evidence that Maxwell allegedly made false statements under oath in her litigation with Virginia Giuffre, one of her most outspoken accusers. Giuffre’s lawsuit, which stated that Maxwell made her Epstein’s “sex slave,” was settled on confidential terms before an open-records battle unsealed much of the court’s docket.
Prosecutors claim that Maxwell perjured herself during two sworn depositions in that case, and those allegations will be heard separately from the sex trafficking and other claims going before a jury in November.
Read Maxwell’s notice below:
[image via JOHANNES EISELE/AFP via Getty Images]
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