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Judge pushes jury in Maxwell trial to work overtime, citing rising COVID-19 cases

Ghislaine Maxwell
Posted at 9:04 AM, Dec 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-29 09:04:05-05

NEW YORK — The jury that is weighing Ghislaine Maxwell's fate has told a judge it is "making progress" in reaching a verdict after four full days of deliberations.

Still, Judge Alison J. Nathan made it clear on Tuesday she wants the jury to work longer hours in a race against a coronavirus surge that could derail proceedings.

The judge told lawyers that there was a high risk that jurors and trial participants may need to quarantine if they get the virus.

Jurors will return for the fifth day of deliberations Wednesday to consider the sex-trafficking charges against Maxwell, a British socialite. She is charged with grooming teenagers as young as 14 to be sexually assaulted by financier Jeffrey Epstein.

Epstein was arrested in July 2019 on charges of sexually abusing dozens of girls. He died by suicide in jail a month later.

Epstein had previously served 13 months in jail in connection with a 2008 Florida conviction on prostitution charges and solicitation of a minor. Experts have called that conviction a "sweetheart deal" between Epstein and local prosecutors.

Epstein's high-profile connections with leaders like Prince Andrew and former presidents Bill Clinton and Donald Trump have put a worldwide microscope on Maxwell's trial.

Maxwell's lawyers say she's a scapegoat for the crimes that were levied at Epstein before his death.

Maxwell faces six charges linked to sex trafficking, conspiracy and enticing minors. She'll also face two charges of perjury, which will be tried at a later date.

Maxwell has been held without bail since she was arrested in July 2020.

The jury has provided few hints as to which way they're leaning. They requested multi-colored sticky notes, a white board, and some trial transcripts on Monday. They also asked for the definition of enticement and a question pertaining to the law.

The jury was given a few days off last week to celebrate Christmas.