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Ghislaine Maxwell turns 60 behind bars

Ghislaine Maxwell has reached her 60th birthday behind bars in New York as she awaits the outcome of her sex trafficking trial.

The British socialite is scheduled to return to a Manhattan courthouse on Monday to await word from a jury entering its third full day of talks after hearing over two dozen witnesses and viewing dozens of exhibits over three weeks.

Messages sent to her lawyer and a website where items expressing support for Maxwell are regularly posted were not returned on Saturday.

Prosecutors said in their closing arguments last Monday that the crucial evidence was the testimony of four women who say they were sexually abused as teenagers by financier Jeffrey Epstein with help from Maxwell when she was his girlfriend, and later when she morphed into his close confidante and an employee valued highly enough that he gave her more than $US20 million.

Prosecutors called her the “lady of the house” from 1994 to 2004, saying she recruited and groomed teenagers as young as 14 to meet Epstein’s seemingly insatiable need to be touched by vulnerable girls who came from impoverished and despairing backgrounds or who counted on his claims of wealth and connections to aid their quests for success and fame in the performance arts.

Defence lawyers, though, say she was a US government scapegoat after Epstein killed himself in the Manhattan federal jail cell where he was awaiting his own sex trafficking trial in August 2019.

They said the memories of her accusers were corrupted by the passage of time and the influence of lawyers steering them toward multi-million dollar payouts from a fund set up to compensate Epstein victims.

The jury already has asked to review the testimony of the four women, along with former Epstein housekeeper Juan Patricio Alessi, but they have given little hint of their overall progress on six charges, including a sex trafficking count that carries a potential penalty of up to 40 years in prison.

Alessi testified that when he worked at Epstein’s sprawling Florida home from 1990 to 2002, he saw “many, many, many” female visitors, appearing to be in their late 20s, often lounging topless by the pool.

He also testified that two accusers, underage teens at the time, were repeat visitors to the Epstein mansion.

Each day of deliberations without a verdict seems to boost the defence team, which is aware that fast verdicts almost always go in the government’s favour and that deliberations that stretch out can sometimes indicate dissension or confusion among jurors.

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