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At Ghislaine Maxwell sex trafficking trial, lurid photos from Epstein home barred by judge

Julie K. Brown, Miami Herald on

Published in News & Features

NEW YORK — The prosecution in the Ghislaine Maxwell sex trafficking trial suffered a series of setbacks Friday as Maxwell’s lawyers successfully challenged a key witness’ testimony and persuaded the judge to exclude FBI photographs of Jeffrey Epstein’s New York mansion.

Maxwell, seated at the defense table with her bevy of lawyers, appeared elated at day’s end, smiling with her arm around one of her attorneys, Bobbi Sternheim.

It was the fifth day of testimony in what is expected to be a six-week trial in federal court in Manhattan. Maxwell, 59, is accused of recruiting minors to be sexually abused by Epstein at his homes in New York, Palm Beach and at his ranch in New Mexico between 1994 and 2002.

Epstein died in jail in August 2019 as he was awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges. Authorities ruled the death a suicide.

On Friday, the defense and prosecutors argued before the start of court over whether jurors should be permitted to see lurid photographs that were taken by police during a 2005 raid of Epstein’s Palm Beach mansion.

The police photographs were images of framed pictures in his home that showed a partially clad prepubescent girl.

 

Assistant U.S. Attorney Maurene Comey said the photographs are relevant because they are “evidence of Jeffrey Epstein’s lifestyle” that “contradicts the public persona presented by the defense.”

On the first day of trial, Sternheim called Epstein a “21st century James Bond” who was charismatic and generous.

Judge Alison Nathan ultimately allowed two of the framed Palm Beach photographs to be shown to the jury — one of them an image of the girl lying over Epstein’s lap, her bottom exposed and Epstein pretending to bite her.

But the prosecution lost a round when Nathan excluded photographs taken by the FBI in a 2019 search of his New York mansion.

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