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Defense Rests in Ghislaine Maxwell Trial

On Friday afternoon, near the end of the 12th day of Ghislaine Maxwell’s sex-trafficking trial, the judge overseeing the case had a question for Ms. Maxwell: Did she plan to take the witness stand?

Ms. Maxwell stood next to one of her lawyers, Bobbi C. Sternheim, whose arm was curled around Ms. Maxwell’s lower back as she spoke.

“The government has not proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt,” Ms. Maxwell said. “And so, there is no reason for me to testify.”

The jury, which was still out on an extended lunch break, never heard Ms. Maxwell’s voice.

Soon after, Ms. Maxwell’s lawyers rested their case, paving the way for closing arguments to begin Monday. With close to a full day of arguments expected and the judge needing to instruct the jurors on the law, it seemed likely that Ms. Maxwell’s case will be submitted to the jury early on Tuesday.

Ms. Maxwell, 59, has pleaded not guilty to charges that she helped recruit and groom underage girls for abuse by Jeffrey Epstein, her longtime companion, who killed himself in jail in 2019 while awaiting his own sex-trafficking trial.

The case against Ms. Maxwell, who was arrested in July 2020, was widely seen as the legal reckoning that Mr. Epstein never had. And though hotly anticipated testimony about Mr. Epstein’s famous friends was fleeting, the case at times provided a glimpse into the disgraced financier’s lifestyle. Witnesses described lurid scenes at Mr. Epstein’s Palm Beach estate, and two women testified that they were sexually abused by Mr. Epstein when they were underage — encounters they said Ms. Maxwell sometimes arranged or participated in.

Ms. Maxwell’s defense, which took most of two days, sought to challenge those accounts in different ways. On Thursday, an expert testified that memory can be unreliable and even malleable, influenced by things that were learned later. And a handful of other witnesses appeared intended to poke specific holes in the accounts of Ms. Maxwell’s accusers.

Among those who testified on Friday was Eva Andersson-Dubin, a former girlfriend and longtime associate of Mr. Epstein.

Ms. Andersson-Dubin is married to Glenn Dubin, a founder of Highbridge Capital Management. She dated Mr. Epstein in the 1980s and remained friendly with him even after he served a stint in prison on state prostitution charges, beginning in 2008, a bond that has made her and her family a subject of intense media interest since Mr. Epstein’s arrest and death.

Ms. Andersson-Dubin and her husband have denied knowledge of any wrongdoing by Mr. Epstein.

Ms. Andersson-Dubin testified for the defense after being subpoenaed, said her lawyer, Tatiana R. Martins.

Ms. Andersson-Dubin testified that she had dated Mr. Epstein on and off from about 1983 until 1990 or 1991. She remained friendly with him after that, she said, and the two were regularly in touch. She added that she was comfortable with the relationship between Mr. Epstein and her three children, who referred to him as “Uncle F.”

Her testimony was limited to an apparent effort by Ms. Maxwell’s lawyers to rebut claims by government witnesses.

One government witness, a soap-opera actress identified only as Jane, told the jury about group massages involving Mr. Epstein and other women, including somebody named Eva.

Ms. Andersson-Dubin said she did not take part in any group massages.

A defense lawyer, Jeffrey Pagliuca, asked, “Did you observe any inappropriate conduct between Mr. Epstein and any teenage females?”

“I did not,” Ms. Andersson-Dubin replied.

Ms. Andersson-Dubin was also asked about flight records, previously introduced by government witnesses, that put her and her family on Mr. Epstein’s private plane with “Jane” on at least one occasion.

The trial, once expected to last up to six weeks, moved much more quickly, with the government taking 10 days for its presentation to the jury, and the defense completing its case in two days.

The swift conclusion of Ms. Maxwell’s defense case came after Judge Alison J. Nathan on Friday morning questioned her lawyers’ efforts to put the case on hold until Monday, to give them more time to bring in two witnesses.

Ms. Maxwell’s team had hoped to locate a witness identified in court as Kelly, who had not responded to subpoenas, as well as a last-minute witness summoned from England.

Prosecutors pushed back, saying the defense had been given ample time to prepare its case, and Judge Nathan agreed. “You have your witnesses, or you rest,” she said.

The matter of the two witnesses was then put aside, as the jury came in and heard four defense witnesses in quick succession: Ms. Andersson-Dubin, two F.B.I. agents and a former employee of Mr. Epstein.

On Friday afternoon, the defense said it would not require the other two witnesses to appear, and rested its case.

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