NO ONE knows yet whether Ghislaine Maxwell, the British socialite and ex-girlfriend of late convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, is guilty of the crimes of which she has been accused.
That remains to be seen during her trial, which will take place next year.
⚠️Click here for the latest news on Ghislaine Maxwell
But a first step towards potential justice seems to have been taken this week when Maxwell was denied bail and deemed an “extreme flight risk”.
And, given that Epstein managed to evade justice by killing himself in prison, I’m sure we all breathed a sigh of relief when the news broke that Maxwell would not be able to flee the country and avoid a fair trial.
Prosecutors allege that between 1994 and 1997 she helped Epstein to groom girls as young as 14.
The 17-page indictment says she “assisted, facilitated and contributed to Epstein’s abuse of minor girls by, among other things, helping him to recruit, groom and ultimately abuse victims known to Maxwell and Epstein to be under the age of 18”.
She has pleaded not guilty but, if convicted, she could face spending up to 35 years in prison.
One of Epstein’s accusers, Virginia Roberts, has said that Maxwell recruited her to work as Epstein’s masseuse at the age of 15 — just one victim’s story of many who are expected to testify.
Maxwell has been painted as Epstein’s enabler throughout many years of predatory sexual abuse. We don’t yet know the full story. But what is clear is that, at best, she turned a blind eye to the abuse. And at worst, did as she is accused — actively encouraged, aided and abetted him.
I’m guessing that some of the more prominent men who were closely associated with Epstein are feeling a bit nervous right now
Either way, Maxwell has many questions to answer, something she has been reluctant to do.
This month, when the FBI came to the door of her tucked away New Hampshire retreat, there were many signs that she was trying to evade arrest. She had reportedly wrapped her phone in tin foil in the misguided hope that authorities would not be able to trace it. And she allegedly tried to run away when they banged on her door.
Clearly, this is a woman who does not want to answer any questions.
Her lawyers tried hard to get her bail, saying she was at risk of contracting coronavirus in prison, and that she was running from the media rather than the law. But as well as her foil-covered phone, she had three different passports and is believed to have moved 36 times in 12 months.
Given the extent of her alleged crimes, and the degree to which she has hidden from authorities, it’s no wonder she didn’t get bail.
Her defence has made the point that she is not Jeffrey Epstein and she should not be on trial for his crimes.
But it’s not “media spin” that Epstein groomed under-age girls for sex — he was convicted of the offence. And, since she was by his side during those years, Maxwell certainly seems to hold the key to many answers about how he got away with it for so long — and who else might have been involved.
There are many disturbing things about this story but most worrying of all is how much Maxwell’s alleged behaviour challenges our assumption that, when the chips are down, women will help other women — and children. Instead, she is accused of aiding their abuse and ill-treatment.
Waiting a year for a trial — no doubt in conditions very different to those she must be used to — will certainly offer her a lot of time for contemplation.
Perhaps the FBI hope that the longer she waits, the more inclined she will be to give names of the many people who apparently benefited from Jeffrey Epstein’s access to young, vulnerable girls. To save herself she will have to throw others under the bus. The big question is — will she?
I’m guessing that some of the more prominent men who were closely associated with Epstein are feeling a bit nervous right now.
We don’t want to see charges dropped due to some seedy backroom plea deal.
We want to make sure she faces justice in a court of law.
Both Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell were hiding in plain sight for years — just as so many other high- profile sexual predators have.
And they took advantage of their privilege and wealth.
Let’s hope the events of the past few years, with the arrest of people like Harvey Weinstein, have put a stop to people turning a collective blind eye and excusing unacceptable behaviour.
And let’s hope Ghislaine Maxwell gets a fair trial — and that justice is served.
JEALOUSY is never a nice emotion to admit to but the photos of Jennifer Lopez wearing a black leather bikini with strappy black gladiator-style stilettos and gold hoop earrings were nothing short of enviable.
What I can’t get over, though, is that she and I are the same age.
And on the one hand it’s great that women over 50 are now surrounded by inspiring role models.
I guess it’s good to have life goals – even if they don’t necessarily seem achievable.
TOO SOFT ON JIHADI
THAT we should be allowing the return of jihadi bride Shamima Begum to this country is already problematic.
The fact that the lawyer representing her family has said that nobody can be sure if she is still a terror threat – but insists that she should be allowed to return to the UK anyway – is nothing short of astonishing, isn’t it?
Begum has won a Court of Appeal victory that could see her back in the country within weeks.
When she does return to the UK, she is likely to be arrested and questioned before being charged with terror-related offences.
But the fact that she will be back on UK soil, no doubt housed and given state benefits to live off, is unbelievable and unforgivable.
How can we allow entry to a self-confessed terrorist who hates our country? Where’s our backbone?
School’s out… again
AND so here we are at the end of another school term, with another summer holiday looming ahead of us.
Except this time kids have already been at home for four months, and we’ve all had to scale back our holiday plans.
Summer holidays can be stressful for parents at the best of times. So, good luck to the parents who have made it through the marathon of home-schooling. I hope you get a break – you deserve it.
Cover-up call is a big m-ask
SO, from next Friday we will all be wearing masks when we go into shops.
In a way it is a relief to have a clear rule, and I am sure everyone agrees that if it means we will avoid another lockdown, then it is a minor discomfort we should be prepared to put up with.
But still, some people are up in arms about it.
They think it’s not worth going out if the price to be paid is to be covered up.
Then there are those who think they don’t have the virus and won’t catch it, and those that have already had it and think they are immune, so the rules don’t apply to them.
Boris could have avoided all this by simply saying, when he relaxed the lockdown, that he would only do so if people wore masks when they were out of their homes.
I am sure the majority would have complied and by now a precedent would have been set, and we would all be routinely using them when out and about. But he didn’t.
So we have been going about our business without them, and now have to switch to using them.
And poor shopkeepers have been told to call the already overwhelmed police if people go in their shop without wearing one.
Frankly, it’s tough enough for retailers to get customers to set foot in their shop in the first place without then having to chase them out and threaten them with the police.
KIDS PUT IN HARM’S WAY
ONE of the many worrying knock-on effects of this pandemic are the new figures suggesting that reports of child abuse images online increased by almost half during lockdown.
The Internet Watch Foundation says it received 44,000 reports of indecent images online between March 23 and July 9, compared to 29,000 during the same period last year.
The group’s view is that the increase in people being stuck at home and children spending more time on the internet had created “the perfect storm”.
Whatever the cause, these statistics are seriously depressing – and sickening.
I think it is time to make the sentencing and punishment for crimes like this much much, MUCH more severe.
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CAN’T BEA SEEN
Andrew left out of pics as Beatrice wears dress loaned by Queen for wedding
BRIDE HIS TIME
Prince Andrew gives Beatrice away at socially-distanced royal wedding
New norm for sex workers?
IMAGINE the plight of sex workers in Bolivia. It’s hard for women to understand the appeal of paying someone to go to bed with you.
But if that was the case before coronavirus, it is even more so now, given the news that Bolivia’s sex workers say they’ll return to work using gloves, bleach and see-through raincoats to keep everyone safe.
And they say romance is dead . . .
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