NEW YORK (NewsNation Now) — The judge overseeing the trial in New York of British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell on charges of sexual abuse said Monday that she plans to question 231 potential jurors.
U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan will start questioning the candidates Tuesday. She plans to ask jurors whether they know any of the people who say they were victims of the abuse, as well as whether they have opinions about “people who are wealthy or have luxurious lifestyles.”
Twelve jurors and six alternates will be selected from the pool.
Maxwell, 59, is accused of grooming underage girls for deceased financier Jeffrey Epstein to abuse. She has pleaded not guilty to six counts of sex trafficking and other crimes.
This weekend, she spoke with The Daily Mail about her jail conditions. She talked about being served maggot-infested apples, sharing a cell with a rat from an open sewer and swearing off showers because of creepy guards who stare at her naked.
“It came out right before jury selection; are they hoping that people see some of this and there’s kind of a sympathy plot to this? Of course,” Stacey Honowitz, the assistant state attorney of the Sex Crimes & Child Abuse Unit in Florida, said on “Banfield.” “You’d have to be ridiculous not to think that she is trying to get that.”
“I think she’s being a crybaby, to be honest with you,” Larry Levine, the founder of Wall Street Prison Consulting and a former federal inmate, said on “Banfield.” “I’ve got clients in institutions all over the U.S. so what she is saying, it’s true to a certain point.”
Attorneys for Maxwell have argued that extensive media coverage of her arrest and ties to Epstein have tainted the jury pool. More than 600 potential jurors filled out questionnaires this month asking them what they have heard about Epstein and Maxwell, and about their own experiences with sexual abuse.
The questioning this week, known as voir dire, is intended to further weed out potential jurors who may be biased.
Maxwell is a former girlfriend of Epstein, a teacher-turned-globetrotting-investor who counted Britain’s Prince Andrew and former U.S. President Donald Trump among his associates. Epstein died by suicide at age 66 in a Manhattan jail cell in 2019 while awaiting his own trial on sex crimes charges.
“The defense is she’s taking the blame for him.” Honowitz said. “The prosecution’s going to say, ‘No, we finally got her and she is just as responsible for what went on with the trafficking as Jeffrey Epstein was.'”
The trial’s opening statements are scheduled for Nov. 29.
Reuters contributed to this report.