Dark Legend of Epstein envelops Maxwell’s trial in a web of conspiracy theories | US News

The graphic testimony presented to jurors at Ghislaine Maxwell’s criminal sexual abuse trial last week seemed at times to merge and then break away from larger theories – criminal, conspiratorial or both – about the nature of Jeffrey Epstein’s world.

The fact that prosecutors and defense attorneys manage to separate the criminal conspiracy from the conspiracy theories that run through Epstein-Maxwell’s narrative may determine how the criminal complaint against the 59-year-old former British socialite is ultimately resolved.

For the prosecution, their case against Maxwell involves separating the criminal charges she faces from the larger conspiracy theories of wealth and power that shroud the dark legend of disgraced financier and sex trafficker Epstein. In Maxwell’s defense, the task might be to entangle Maxwell so deep in Epstein’s shadow that jurors are simply unable to convict her.

Both sides battle preconceptions about wealth, power, privilege and sex – and where these turn into the kind of conspiracies that have no place in this trial or, arguably, in n any type of reality except, perhaps, that of political extremists.

But, when it comes to Epstein and the savage network of powerful people he was connected to, there’s no easy way to escape conspiracy theorists.

“A lot of people have come to me with wild conspiracy theories on this case,” Lisa Bloom, the victims’ rights lawyer, said outside the Manhattan courthouse which has become the scene of Q-Anon protests.

“Of course the folks at Q-Anon are crazy – they think Democrats eat babies – they’re crazy. But if you had told me 10 years ago that Jeffrey Epstein had Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, Kevin Spacey, Chris Tucker and Prince Andrew on his plane, I would have said you were crazy. It turns out to be true.

Class also plays a role. In an early indication of how Maxwell’s defense attorney intends to play his role, his team attempted to undermine one of the early witnesses, “Jane,” by disputing his account of the place. where she lived in Palm Beach and whether her gated community was attached to a “Country Club”.

The implication was clear: The jurors were asked to believe that “Jane” came from better circumstances than those she had described and was therefore more scholarly than indicated.

“I don’t think I’ve ever had a case where a witness was always consistent in what he described,” said Wendy J Murphy, a former Massachusetts prosecutor who teaches sexual violence law in New England. Law Boston. “I actually would be nervous if they were because it seems to be parental and contrived.”

While the credibility of witnesses is important, adds Murphy, “this case is about a pervasive pattern of criminal conduct – it really is organized crime. There is so much corroboration and evidence that this business has existed that you don’t have to place so much importance on the credibility of individual victims.

But the question of how important Epstein-Maxwell’s overall story is to jurors, and how too wild to believe it is likely to concern prosecutors, Murphy said.

“The jurors’ job is to make sense of what they hear,” Murphy said. “But when you talk about very unusual behavior at a very high level, most jurors won’t be comfortable thinking that influential people are inclined to do horrible things.

And that, Murphy says, plays for defense. “Ninety-nine percent of jurors have no way of identifying with the victim, so it’s so uncomfortable to believe this has happened. They prefer to find a reasonable doubt because they feel better about the way the world works.

At the same time, she points out, the central theme of the charges against Maxwell – sex trafficking – is an accepted truth flowing back to Epstein.

“Jurors may think Maxwell was involved in something horrible because she was involved with Epstein who is guilty because he died,” suggested Murphy, and his defense argument that she did not ‘might not have been prosecuted if Epstein had lived then would not arouse sympathy.

“Nobody cares,” says Murphy.

Few stories in recent years since September 11 or the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, have acquired as much conspiracy baggage as Jeffrey Epstein, his alleged facilitators and personalities in their milieu. The most notorious of these, promoted by his own family, is that Epstein was murdered and did not, as the records suggest, succeed in a second suicide attempt in a poorly managed detention center.

At the time, even elected officials, including outgoing New York mayor Bill de Blasio, said they did not understand how Epstein, faced with multiple charges of sexual abuse and sex trafficking, managed to kill himself. “It’s just too practical,” De Blasio said. “It’s too many pieces happening simultaneously that don’t match. “

But it’s Maxwell, not Epstein, who is on trial, although Maxwell has always claimed she was on trial as a replacement for the government’s failure to bring Epstein to a jury. “The charges against Ghislaine Maxwell relate to things Jeffrey Epstein did, but she’s not Jeffrey Epstein,” Maxwell’s attorney Bobbi Sternheim said in his opening remarks.

But it’s difficult to determine whether the lawsuit can begin to analyze the government-claimed conspiracy against Maxwell from the larger conspiracy theories around Epstein and his circle of bankers, politicians, scientists and social figures.

Stephan Lewandowsky, a professor at the University of Bristol who has written extensively on conspiracy theories, notes that the objects of such thinking almost always attach to the wealth and power of the type Epstein personified and behind which Maxwell can maybe hide.

“I can’t think of a conspiracy theory that doesn’t involve someone famous or famous, because no one cares about your grandmother or your cousin on the road. A conspiracy theory about someone that no one has heard of won’t be very appealing. You need a famous person as a landmark, ”he said.

And these are times of conspiracy.

Outside of court last week, Q-Anon supporters again rekindled ideas around Pizzagate, the baseless 2016 idea that Democrats around the Clintons were abusing children in a pizza place owned by a food collector. Democratic Party funds.

“It’s all reminiscent of a centuries-old conspiracy theory known as anti-Semitism,” Lewandowsky explains. “Child abuse or sacrifice is very often a partly political conspiracy theory. “

It’s in Maxwell’s best interests to bring Epstein to justice – and he can’t answer even the most outlandish claims about him and those around him.

About Harold Hartman

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