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Ghislaine Maxwell trial: Jurors must decide if she was Epstein enabler or pawn

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Ghislaine Maxwell trial: Jurors must decide if she was Epstein enabler or pawn

NEW YORK (AP) — Ghislaine Maxwell spent the first half of her life with her father, a rags-to-riches billionaire who looted his companies’ pension funds before dying a mysterious death. She spent the second with another tycoon, Jeffrey Epstein, who killed himself while charged with sexually abusing teenage girls.

Now, after a life of both scandal and luxury, Maxwell’s next act will be decided by a U.S. trial.

Starting Monday, prosecutors in New York will argue that even as she was sipping cocktails with the likes of Prince Andrew, Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, Maxwell, 59, was secretly abetting Epstein’s crimes with girls as young as 14.

A key question for jurors: Was Maxwell an unwitting pawn of Epstein’s manipulations or an opportunist who knew all about his sex crimes?

Ian Maxwell says his sister is being railroaded by a U.S. criminal justice system intent on holding someone responsible for Epstein’s crimes.

“And she is paying a heavy price, a blood price for that,” he told The Associated Press.

Ghislaine Maxwell grew up at Headington Hill Hall, a 51-room English country mansion where politicians, business leaders and newspaper editors attended lavish parties punctuated by trumpeters and fireworks. BBC images from the time show Ghislaine as a child with a kid-size plate of food, circling in a party dress, learning how to be a master networker.

Her father, born Jan Ludvik Hoch, was one of nine children of Yiddish-speaking parents in a village in what is now southwestern Ukraine. Escaping the Holocaust, he ultimately joined the British Army, rising to the rank of captain and transforming himself into Robert Maxwell.

After the war, Maxwell built on his military connections to buy the rights to German scientific journals, the beginnings of a publishing empire that ultimately included the Daily Mirror, one of Britain’s biggest tabloid newspapers, as well as the New York Daily News and the book publisher Macmillan.

Along the way he married, fathered nine children and was twice elected to Parliament. He also earned a reputation for boorish behavior and bullying subordinates.

Ghislaine was Maxwell’s youngest child, born on Christmas Day 1961. Her brother Michael was severely brain damaged in a car accident just days later at age 15, although he lived for another seven years.

Her mother, Elisabeth Maxwell, wrote in her memoir that she and Robert were so focused on their injured son that their baby daughter was overlooked. So neglected was Ghislaine that at the age of 3 she stood in front of her mother and said, “Mummy, I exist!”

“I was devastated,’’ Elisabeth Maxwell wrote in “A Mind of My Own: My Life with Robert Maxwell.’’ “And from that day on, we all made a great effort with her, fussing over her so much that she became spoiled, the only one of my children I can truly say that about.’’

While studying history at the University of Oxford in the early 1980s, Ghislaine Maxwell began building contacts of her own, including Prince Andrew, who would later invite her and Epstein to Windsor Castle and Sandringham, Queen Elizabeth II’s country estate.

After graduating, she worked for her father in a variety of roles. In 1991, at age 29, she became his U.S. emissary after he bought the Daily News amid efforts to compete with fellow media tycoon — and New York Post owner — Rupert Murdoch.

Later that year, Robert Maxwell fell off his yacht — the Lady Ghislaine — in the Canary Islands and died in what some saw as an accident and others a suicide. Investors would discover his wealth was an illusion: He had diverted hundreds of millions of pounds from his companies’ pension funds to prop up his empire.

Soon after her father’s death, Ghislaine Maxwell was photographed sitting next to Epstein during a memorial at the Plaza Hotel.

John Sweeney, a longtime U.K. journalist and creator of the podcast “Hunting Ghislaine,” told the AP he believes that “after the monster her father died, she found a second monster.”

“Robert Maxwell stole hundreds of millions of pounds from people who were dependent upon his good word; Jeffrey Epstein turned out to be a darker figure, a worse human being,” Sweeney said.

Ian Maxwell said his sister’s relationship with Epstein developed after the family advised her to remain in the U.S. because the Maxwell name was “in the dirt” at home. Amid the family’s reputational and financial woes, she had to make her own way in New York and forge new friendships, he said.

One of those was with Epstein, a onetime teacher who built his own fortune on the back of contacts like the former CEO of the parent company of lingerie retailer Victoria’s Secret.

“My father was a powerful man — you know, an alpha male, really. And when you have that kind of experience, all of us, all of the brothers and sisters have had to somehow deal with that,” Ian Maxwell said. “Ghislaine was no exception. But clearly to then say, ‘Well, you know, he dies, then she moves along to the next rich man.’ I just don’t buy that.”

In sworn testimony for an earlier civil case, Ghislaine Maxwell acknowledged that she had a romantic relationship with Epstein but said she later became his employee, tasked with things like hiring staff for his six homes.

“I hired assistants, architects, decorators, cooks, cleaners, gardeners, pool people, pilots. I hired all sorts of people,’’ Maxwell said during a deposition in April 2016. “A very small part of my job was to find adult professional massage therapists for Jeffrey. As far as I’m concerned, everyone who came to his house was an adult professional person.”

But in 2005, Epstein was arrested in Palm Beach, Florida, and accused of hiring multiple underage girls — many students at a local high school — to perform sex acts. He pleaded guilty to a charge of procuring a person under 18 for prostitution and served 13 months in jail.

Years of civil litigation followed, in which women accused Epstein and Maxwell of sexual abuse. Prosecutors in New York revived the case and charged Epstein with sex trafficking in 2019, but he killed himself in jail before he could face trial.

The indictment against Maxwell is based on accusations from four women who say she recruited them to give Epstein massages that progressed into sexual abuse. One was just 14 at the time. Maxwell sometimes participated in the sexual encounters and was involved in paying at least one accuser, prosecutors allege.

Annie Farmer alleges she was 16 when she was tricked into visiting Epstein’s New Mexico ranch under the guise of attending an event for college-bound students. But when she arrived, there were no other students. She said Maxwell tried to groom her by taking her to the movies and shopping, and giving her an unsolicited massage while the teenager was topless.

The AP does not identify people who say they were victims of sexual abuse unless they come forward publicly. Although she is not identified by name in court documents, Farmer has described her experiences in interviews with ABC and The New York Times. When Maxwell — a citizen of the U.S., U.K. and France — sought bail, Farmer asked the judge to deny it, calling her a “psychopath.”

“I do not believe that … any of the women she exploited will see justice if she is released on bail,” Farmer wrote in a letter to the court. “She has lived a life of privilege, abusing her position of power to live beyond the rules. Fleeing the country in order to escape once more would fit with her long history of anti-social behavior.”

Virginia Giuffre, who has filed a related civil lawsuit against Britain’s Prince Andrew but isn’t part of the criminal case, has described Maxwell as a “Mary Poppins” figure who made young girls feel comfortable as they were being lured into Epstein’s web.

Giuffre alleges she was 17 when she was flown to London to have sex with Andrew at Maxwell’s house. Other encounters with Andrew occurred at Epstein’s homes in Manhattan and the U.S. Virgin Islands, according to her lawsuit. Andrew denies the allegations.

Prosecutors say Maxwell went into hiding after Epstein’s suicide, moving into a gated New Hampshire home she bought for $1 million — with a husband her lawyers have declined to publicly identify — and wrapping her cellphone in foil to ward off hacking.

Maxwell was just protecting herself from the press, her lawyers said in court papers — a notion U.S. District Judge Alison J. Nathan rejected.

Nathan repeatedly denied Maxwell bail, deeming the risk of her fleeing too great. The judge’s decision has left Maxwell isolated at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, confined to a small cell equipped with a toilet and a concrete bed. Ian Maxwell said imprisonment is preventing his sister from receiving a fair trial.

Ghislaine Maxwell has remained mostly silent about the Epstein allegations over nearly two decades, but in a 2016 deposition in a civil case, she said she learned about the allegations against him “like everybody else, like the rest of the world, when it was announced in the papers.’’

She said she never saw Epstein getting massages from anyone under 18 and that no one ever complained to her that Epstein demanded sex.

“Never,” she declared.

With Epstein gone and no apparent recordings of alleged incidents that occurred two decades ago, the trial will likely hinge on the women’s allegations and Maxwell’s denial.

A jury will soon decide who it believes.

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DIA sets new record for the number of guns seized at airport security

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DIA sets new record for the number of guns seized at airport security

Denver International Airport ranked sixth nationally in 2021 for the number of firearms seized by TSA agents at security checkpoints, the Transportation Security Administration announced Tuesday.

In 2021, agents found 141 firearms in travelers carry-on luggage, more than any year since 2018, according to TSA data. Nationally, 5,972 guns were seized at airport security checkpoints. The 141 guns seized set a new record at the Denver airport, the TSA said in a news release.

“As the data suggests, travelers bringing firearms in carry-on luggage is not new and we have now reached an unacceptable level of carelessness by gun owners. Simply stated, one gun in carry-on luggage is one too many,” TSA Federal Security Director for Colorado Larry Nau said in a news release.

Still, the percentage of passengers trying to bring guns onto airplanes is small.

Security agents at DIA screened approximately 18.3 million departing passengers and crew in 2021, making it the sixth busiest airport for TSA security checkpoint screening operations. That is a 72% increase in passenger traffic over 2020, a year where air travel was marred by the coronavirus pandemic.

The airports with the most firearms seized at security in 2021 are:

  • Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport , 507
  • Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, 317
  • Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport, 245
  • Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, 196
  • Nashville International Airport, 163.

Travelers caught with firearms at an airport security checkpoint face criminal and civil penalties. Even those with concealed carry permits must check their unloaded weapons in a hard-sided case.

For more information on carrying firearms on an airplane, visit https://www.tsa.gov/travel/transporting-firearms-and-ammunition.

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Opinion: Colorado must address workforce age discrimination

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Opinion: Colorado must address workforce age discrimination

We have a paradox going on in Colorado: employers are desperately looking for talent, and older adults are desperately looking for work. But workforce age discrimination makes it difficult for older Coloradans to fully contribute to the labor market.

For years, older workers from every corner of the state have told me their frustrating and often heartbreaking stories of age discrimination that prevented them from landing needed jobs, that they faced once in the workplace, and that they felt as they were forced out.

Stories like these: a man who was a colleague of mine, a fundraising pro with decades of success who couldn’t get callbacks for development jobs; a former corporate marketing VP who was told that she lost out to a younger applicant because the hiring manager assumed she would not be social media savvy; a group of women in their 60s forced to live on small social security checks — this despite help-wanted signs in almost every store window in their Western Slope town.

Such age discrimination is common: studies from AARP and others show that 78% of workers over 45 have seen or experienced age discrimination in the workplace and over one-half of long-time, employees age 50 and over are forced to leave positions before they would voluntarily choose to do so. Once this happens, only 10% of them ever regain their previous economic status.

Nationwide, the country lost $850 billion in GDP due to age discrimination and that could grow to $3.9 trillion by 2050, reports the AARP.

Discrimination based upon age has especially harmful consequences for already economically vulnerable groups like women, people of color, and those with low incomes.

There are many reasons to work toward ending workforce age discrimination. There are ways to do it, and there’s no time to waste.

First off, ending age discrimination is good for business. Older adults provide numerous benefits in the workplace. Intergenerational teams create mentoring opportunities, improve team problem-solving, and increase creativity born from combining different perspectives and histories.

Keeping older workers on the job strengthens economies from Main Street to Wall Street. Ongoing paychecks mean more disposable income spent and more taxes paid, while tax-supported benefits can be delayed.

Older adults also need to continue working: the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that 48% of households headed by a person aged 55 or older lack retirement savings. The median 401(k) balance for those between 55 and 64 is less than $15,000. For older adults who lack adequate savings, continuing to work past the traditional retirement age is an economic necessity.

Last, but not least, older adults want to continue working, and continued workforce participation may be connected to better physical and mental health for older adults.

When the legislature reconvenes in January, we can change our workforce discrimination laws so that our economy benefits from the experience and wisdom of older workers.

We must end requirements that job applicants write their high school graduation dates or other age-identifiers on application forms. Right now, it is illegal to ask someone their age, but not their high school graduation date.

And also, ensure that the penalties for age discrimination are commensurate with those for other forms of discrimination. Currently in Colorado, compensatory and punitive damages are allowed in race and gender discrimination cases, but not for age.

Make clear that Colorado’s age discrimination laws apply to hiring, and that the burden of providing age discrimination is not higher than for other forms of discrimination.

Some problems seem overwhelming and too big to solve, but this is one we can address. Certainly, we can’t legislate away ageism, but we can give older workers the same protections afforded to other groups — and we can help businesses get and keep the workers they need.

Janine Vanderburg directs Changing the Narrative, a Colorado-based campaign to change the way people think, talk and act about aging and ageism. The end game? To end ageism. You can read more about what they are doing to reduce workplace ageism.

To send a letter to the editor about this article, submit online or check out our guidelines for how to submit by email or mail.

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Dolphins Q&A: An early look at possible selections with late first-round draft pick

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Dolphins Q&A: An early look at possible selections with late first-round draft pick

Here’s the latest installment of our Miami Dolphins Q&A, where South Florida Sun Sentinel writers David Furones and Omar Kelly answer questions from readers.

Q: With the 25th pick of Round 1 … u select whom…? — Bob Witmer on Twitter

A: First, let’s clarify that the Dolphins’ place in the first round isn’t set in stone yet. With the Dolphins owning the San Francisco 49ers’ selection, Miami will select, at best, No. 25, but it could more likely be 26th or fall even further back.

If you go chalk in the divisional round, with the 49ers and Cincinnati Bengals losing at the respective top-seeded Green Bay Packers and Tennessee Titans, it’s 26. If San Francisco loses and Cincinnati wins, it’s 25. If the 49ers advance to the NFC Championship Game, it will be drop into the final four selections of the opening round.

Essentially, we’re looking at what the Dolphins’ top possibilities will be late in the first round. Miami also now seems more likely to keep this pick with the team essentially ruling out a move for another starting quarterback this offseason and sticking with Tua Tagovailoa heading into his third NFL season.

Picking late in the first round, there are a few offensive tackles that are getting projected to go in that range. I would like to see the Dolphins add at least two offensive linemen this offseason that could serve as an immediate upgrade over what they currently have starting and at least one a veteran free agent. To throw out a couple of names, New Orleans Saints left tackle Terron Armstead or New England Patriots right tackle Trent Brown.

If Miami wants to go the route of getting another lineman with the late-first-round choice, general manager Chris Grier may be leaning on the next head coach’s expertise after the combination of he and ex-coach Brian Flores expended a first (Austin Jackson), two seconds (Liam Eichenberg, Robert Hunt), a third (Michael Deiter), a fourth (Solomon Kindley, a sixth (Isaiah Prince) and a seventh (Larnel Coleman) on linemen over the past three drafts with only one sure-fire NFL-caliber starter to show for it in Hunt at right guard.

A few names to look out for where the Dolphins will be selecting are Ohio State’s Nicholas Petit-Frere, Central Michigan’s Bernhard Raimann and Northern Iowa’s Trevor Penning.

Petit-Frere (6 feet 5, 315 pounds) stood out at left tackle for the Buckeyes and opted out of playing in the Rose Bowl with his draft status already secured. He has experience at right tackle, as well, starting there in 2020, and could slide over if needed to protect the left-handed Tagovailoa’s blind side.

Raimann (6-7, 305) is considered a fast riser by Pro Football Focus for his overall blocking grades in 2021, making a significant leap from the previous year. The Austrian foreign exchange student in high school started his college career as a project tight end before growing into a left tackle, where he started playing in 2020.

Penning (6-7, 322) has experience at both tackle spots and guard while possessing the prototypical height, weight and length and being light on his feet at that size. Kentucky’s Darian Kinnard and UCLA’s Sean Rhyan are also some that could be considered.

You also want to see the Dolphins add a starting running back and a receiving weapon in the offseason. Unless a running back emerges between the Senior Bowl and scouting combine, none appear to be going in the first round. Maybe Michigan State’s Kenneth Walker remains available when Miami’s middle-of-the-second pick comes around. He possesses an exceptional ability to break tackles, as seen when he played at Hard Rock Stadium against the Hurricanes last September.

The Dolphins can also do their homework on several receivers, eyeing which one drops that they like between USC’s Drake London, Ohio State’s Chris Olave or Garrett Wilson, Alabama’s Jameson Williams, Arkansas’ Treylon Burks or Penn State’s Jahan Dotson.

The free agent moves made in March will bring greater clarity on needs remaining going into the draft from April 28 to April 30, but it’s unlikely the offensive line is entirely fixed on free agency alone. So, it’s a good bet, especially given how many viable prospects are expected to go in this area of the draft, that the Dolphins go with a lineman there.

Have a question?

Email David Furones, or tag @OmarKelly or @DavidFurones_ on Twitter.

Previously answered:

Can Dolphins hire offensive coach, keep defensive assistants?

Does Zach Thomas get into Hall of Fame this year?

Why not throw downfield to Waddle more?

What do Dolphins think of practice squad rookie RB Gerrid Doaks?

What free agent receiver could Dolphins pair with Waddle?

What is with Jason Sanders’ misses?

What changes could come to receiving corps in offseason?

What offensive linemen should Dolphins target in free agency?

Can Tua still be a top-10 quarterback?

Does Austin Jackson’s move to left guard bring hope?

Did franchise botch Fitzpatrick, Tunsil, Tannehill trades?

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