NEW YORK (AP) — A prosecutor says Ghislaine Maxwell and the late Jeffrey Epstein were partners in crime in the sexual abuse of teenage girls.
The statement was made during the first day of Maxwell's sex trafficking trial. Twelve jurors and six alternates were empaneled Monday.
During opening statements, Assistant U.S. Attorney Lara Pomerantz alleged to the jury that Maxwell recruited and groomed girls for Epstein to abuse from 1994 to 2004.
“She put them at ease and made them feel safe, all so that they could be sexually abused by a middle-aged man,” Pomerantz claimed, according to NBC News. “There were times when she was in the room when it happened.”
Defense lawyer Bobbi Sternheim countered, saying Maxwell was being made a scapegoat after Epstein killed himself in jail two years ago.
“Ever since Eve has been blamed for tempting Adam with an apple, women have been blamed for things men have done,” NBC News reports Sternheim said in his opening statements. “She is not Jeffrey Epstein. She is not anything like Jeffrey Epstein.”
Maxwell used to date Epstein and has been jailed in Brooklyn since her arrest last year.
She has maintained her innocence.
The British socialite faces up to 70 years in prison if she's convicted on all six counts of conspiracy and sex trafficking charges.
The trial is expected to last six weeks.