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An analysis of the Ghislaine Maxwell guilty verdict


Areva Martin joins us next. She's an attorney and legal analyst for CNN. Good morning.

AREVA MARTIN: Good morning, Steve.

INSKEEP: I want to pick up on that phrase the Jasmine Garsd used in summarizing the defense case, that there was a woman taking the fall for a man. Why do you think that didn't work on the jury?

MARTIN: I think this notion that Maxwell was a bystander, an innocent bystander that did not participate in the abuse of these women - it was, quite frankly, rejected by the jury. There was too much testimony. The four women that testified - their testimony was too persuasive, it was too compelling, and it put Maxwell in the center of the abuse that occurred over multiple years with respect to each women - each woman. And what we heard was four women who had very different experiences, yet very similar experiences. And when you look at that cumulative testimony for four - for those four women, it was just too persuasive.

INSKEEP: In other words, Maxwell was not just somebody who passed on a phone number or gave somebody a name. She was a participant, according to the witnesses here.

MARTIN: Absolutely, Steve. She facilitated it. And she was kind of the worst kind of predator because she did present herself as someone that these young girls could trust. You know, she bought them clothes. She took them shopping. She - as we heard the correspondent say, she normalized the abuse. She actually invited them over to the home and made it - them, you know, believe that what they were doing was OK. And that was - you know, that deceptive conduct that she engaged in, I think, was at the heart of what these jurors saw.

INSKEEP: The witnesses did face a real challenge, which the defense tried to exploit. They leaned on the unreliability of memory. And we should be frank - memory is unreliable. Eyewitness testimony is often less reliable than other kinds of evidence. But, of course, it was absolutely central to this case, and that was something that the prosecution needed to overcome. How did the witnesses and the prosecution prevail there?

MARTIN: What we saw, Steve, was an attempt by the defendant - in this case, the defense team - to undermine the credibility of the women by challenging their memories. And, yes, some of the women were not consistent about some of the minor facts - maybe the date that something happened or perhaps the location. But on the central charge that they were sexually abused by Jeffrey Epstein and that she facilitated that abuse, they were all very consistent. So there wasn't any credible challenge to their testimony as it related to the core facts.

INSKEEP: Was it - was part of the power here that there were four of them, as you said, and their broad outlines - the broad outlines of their stories matched?

MARTIN: Absolutely. We know there's power in numbers. So it wasn't just one woman telling of her abuse as a child, but there were four women. And I can't imagine anything, short of her taking the witness stand herself - which we saw in this trial Maxwell didn't do - that could have overcome the power of those four women and the emotional testimony that they provided about the abuse and the long-standing nature of that abuse.

INSKEEP: What are the implications of this verdict for other people, many of them quite famous, who spent time with Epstein?

MARTIN: I think they should be concerned. This prosecution team has done an excellent job, and this probably emboldens them to go further with respect to any other predators that were involved in this illegal sex ring.

INSKEEP: Lawyer and legal analyst Areva Martin of CNN, thanks so much.

MARTIN: Thanks, Steve. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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