Ghislaine Maxwell's trial on charges of child sex-trafficking began Monday in New York, and prosecutors did not mince words in their opening arguments. Describing how Maxwell allegedly massaged billionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein herself before encouraging the underage girls in the room to do so, they said sometimes Maxwell even touched the girls herself. "Even when she was not in the room, make no mistake: she knew exactly what Epstein was going to do to those children when she sent them to him inside the massage rooms," one Manhattan federal prosecutor said, per the Guardian. "What was happening inside those massage rooms was not a massage—it was sexual abuse." And Maxwell was "essential" to that abuse, helping to "normalize" it, the prosecutor said, per the BBC.
Prosecutors say Maxwell preyed on the girls, some as young as 14, knowing full well what Epstein was going to do to them. The 59-year-old "was setting young girls up to be molested by a predator," the prosecutor said. Maxwell's lead attorney, however, was having none of it. "Ever since Eve was accused of tempting Adam for the apple, women have been blamed for the bad behavior of men, and women are often villainized and punished more than the men ever are," she said in her opening arguments. A rally against sex trafficking took place outside the courthouse, but it largely featured comments related to conspiracy theories, including the idea that Epstein didn't kill himself and the denial of the COVID-19 pandemic. Maxwell faces up to eight decades behind bars if convicted. It's not clear whether she will take the stand. (Read more Ghislaine Maxwell stories.)