Ghislaine Maxwell's Defense Rests After Two Lackluster Days - Rolling Stone
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Ghislaine Maxwell’s Defense Rests After Two Lackluster Days

The defense spent weeks saying four accusers’ memory shouldn’t be trusted — only to call a witness who admitted to having memory issues

ghislaine maxwell jeffrey epsteinghislaine maxwell jeffrey epstein

US Attorney's Office SDNY

The defense has rested in Ghislaine Maxwell’s sex-trafficking trial. Maxwell’s lawyers called nine witnesses over two days, and on Friday afternoon, Maxwell spoke to Judge Alison Nathan to answer a question that has been plaguing observers since the trial was announced: “Your honor, the government has not proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt, so there is no need for me to testify,” she told the judge. Attorneys will present their closing arguments on Monday.

Earlier in the day, the defense called a notable character witness: Eva Dubin, who had been Jefrrey Epstein’s girlfriend before Maxwell. After her romantic relationship with Epstein ended in the early 1990s, Dubin (then Andersson) married Glenn Dubin, and the couple maintained ties to the financier. (Glenn Dubin was among the powerful men Epstein accuser Virginia Giuffre claimed she was trafficked to have sex with, per 2016 deposition. Both have denied involvement with Epstein’s crimes.) 

There was something else that stood out even more about this witness, though: Despite the fact that the defense has focused much of their time trying to discredit the memory testimony of four Epstein accusers, this witness freely admitted on the stand that she couldn’t remember things clearly; she was having memory issues due a potential medical condition. 

After the morning’s slow start  — Maxwell’s lawyers had apparently given Dubin the wrong call time — Dubin, a licensed physician with chin-length blonde hair, took the stand for a series of questions about her family’s relationship with Epstein. Her three children called him “Uncle Eff,” (shorthand for Jeff) and they were fond of each other. They’d all traveled by private jet with him, although she didn’t remember exactly when or how many times. Defense lawyer Jeffrey Pagliuca showed Dubin photographs, already in evidence, of Epstein with both of her daughters. “I assume you were aware Mr. Epstein had this,” Pagliuca said of the first photo he showed her, of her youngest daughter with him. “I have never seen this picture before,” she answered. She said she’d never seen the shot of him with her eldest, either.

Pagliuca asked Dubin if she had ever met the accuser known as Jane. “I don’t recall ever meeting this person,” she replied. Then Pagliuca took her through the flight logs pilot David Rodgers had discussed during earlier testimony for the prosecution. He pointed to a half dozen trips and asked whether she remembered any of the other passengers on board. She identified Sophie Biddle as a massage therapist, and said she remembered Jeff Chance (one of Epstein’s attorneys) by name, although she could not remember who he was. “I don’t remember this flight at all,” she said of a 1997 trip. A 1998 trip had Dubin, her husband, her children, and Jane on the log. 

Pagliuca ended by asking Dubin if she had ever participated in a “group sexual encounter” or a “sexualized massage” with the witness known as Jane. “Absolutely not,” she said.

During cross-examination, Assistant U.S. Attorney Alison Moe asked whether Dubin was having issues with her memory. “Yes,” she answered. “It’s very hard for me to remember things very far back, and sometimes I can’t even remember last month.” She said she believed it was related to a medical issue. 

This is striking because so much of the defense’s case has revolved around calling into question the memories of Maxwell’s accusers — along with their motivations. Elizabeth Loftus, an expert on false memories testified a day earlier about how even witnesses who are confident in their recollections and can provide vivid details could have been manipulated by information presented to them after the event. Where does that leave a witness who acknowleges recall has recently been an issue for her?

Before Dubin took the stand, the defense called two FBI agents, one after the other. Each one reviewed reports they’d made or approved of testimony by Jane and Carolyn to corroborate some of the inconsistencies defense attorneys have pointed out throughout the case. Agent Jason Richards testified that his notes from a 2007 interview indicated the witness who went by her first name — Carolyn — said she’d gotten Epstein’s number from the phonebook and he’d returned her call. On the stand, Carolyn had said Virginia Giuffree told her she could make money working for Epstein.

The other FBI witness, Amanda Young, testified to comments Jane had made in FBI interviews, including that she did not remember whether she’d ever been alone in the massage room with only Epstein and Maxwell and that she was not sure whether Maxwell had ever called her to make appointments for so-called massages. During cross-examination, the prosecution asked agents whether the records were exact transcripts of recorded interviews. Both agents said they were not, but notes intended to summarize what was said in the interview. 

After Dubin’s testimony, the defense called another character witness, Michelle Healy, a former receptionist of Epstein’s who patted her heart and met eyes with Maxwell as she took her seat on the witness stand. Healy testified that she’d worked in Epstein’s New York office, and that both Epstein and Maxwell had been her bosses. “She’s fantastic,” Healy said when asked what Maxwell was like as a boss. “She taught me a lot. I respected her. She was tough, but great.” Under cross-examination, she said she had never visited Palm Beach or stayed at any of Epstein’s residences or traveled on his private planes.

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