The defence lawyer for Ghislaine Maxwell said she was being blamed for a man’s bad behaviour just like Eve was in the Garden of Eden.
The 59-year-old socialite’s ‘superstar’ lawyer Bobbi Sternheim also branded her accusers money-grabbers looking for a ‘jackpot of money’.
Miss Sternheim told the court: ‘Ever since Eve was accused of tempting Adam with the apple, women have been blamed for the bad behaviour of men, and women are often vilified and punished more than men are.
‘The charges against Ghislaine Maxwell are for things Jeffrey Epstein did. But she is not Jeffrey Epstein.
‘She is not like Jeffrey Epstein and she is not like any of the other men, powerful men, moguls, who abused women.’
Lawyer Bobbi Sternheim took the floor to deliver the defence’s presentation, saying she is ‘proud’ to represent Maxwell
Media and members of the public line up outside the Manhattan Federal Courthouse ahead of the Ghislaine Maxwell trial
She described Maxwell as a ‘scapegoat’ for Epstein, whose death had ‘left a gaping hole in the pursuit for justice’.
‘He’s the proverbial elephant in the room. He is not visible, but he is consuming this entire courtroom and overflow courtrooms where other members of the public are viewing,’ she added.
Miss Sternheim said the only common denominator between the four witnesses in the case is that they each got ‘big bucks’ in compensation from the estate of Epstein.
‘Epstein’s death left a gaping hole for justice for these women,’ Maxwell’s attorney Bobbi Sternheim said, ‘[Maxwell] is a brand name. She is a lightning rod’
The defence attorney told the Thurgood Marshall United States Courthouse, in Manhattan, that she was ‘proud’ to represent her client.
She has previously represented numerous Death Row cases and has defended the likes of Adel Abdel-Bary, Osama Bin Laden’s London spokesman, when he admitted planning bombings for Al Qaeda.
Epstein killed himself in a New York jail cell in 2019 while awaiting trial for sex trafficking minors. Miss Sternheim claimed that his accusers were motivated by a compensation fund set up following his demise.
The lawyer said: ‘His accusers have shaken the money tree, and millions of dollars have fallen their way.’
Miss Sternheim said that the case was about ‘memory, manipulation and money’, claiming that the accusers’ recollections had been ‘corrupted’ by lawyers in search of payouts and ‘contaminated’ by the passage of time.
In an attempt to cast doubt on the women’s accounts, Miss Sternheim said: ‘As we all know, memories fade over time, and in this case we will learn not only have memories faded, but they have been contaminated by outside information, media reports.’
She also took aim at each of the four witnesses in the case, branding one ‘a consummate actress’ before undermining the others.
But in contrast, Miss Sternheim painted Maxwell as ‘a brand name [and] a lightning rod’ for claims in the wake of Epstein’s death.
Financier Epstein was painted as a mysterious man, unattached with no children – ‘like a 21st-century James Bond’.
Isabel Maxwell, the sister of Ghislaine Maxwell, arrives at the Thurgood Marshall United States Courthouse on Monday
It’s still unknown whether Maxwell’s husband Scott Borgerson will trek to New York to attend the trial in support of his wife
Ghislaine Maxwell’s sex trafficking trial got underway on Monday at the Federal Court House in Manhattan, New York, where the 59-year-old socialite faces 80 years in prison if convicted. Pictured: Maxwell is pictured embracing her defence lawyers
Miss Sternheim said his wealth and mystique stirred the public’s interest. She described him as a ‘patron of the arts’ and a man who had ‘many desirable traits, attractiveness, charisma, intelligence, status, charm’.
She referred to Maxwell as an Oxford graduate and a helicopter pilot, saying that she ‘socialised with extraordinary people’.
But she asked the jurors to not let Maxwell’s wealth cloud their judgment.
‘Privileged background, comfortable lifestyle, status – they may be things that easily check the wrong box, but they are not crimes,’ she said.
The opening statement was interrupted several times by objections from the prosecutor.
Miss Sternheim claims Maxwell is being prosecuted only because US authorities were unable to bring Epstein himself to justice.
But she said the prosecution could not prove the allegations beyond a reasonable doubt, before adding: ‘When all is said and done the evidence will show that the government cannot because Ghislaine did not.