Maxwell jury hours extended over Covid-19 concerns

Jurors in British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell’s sex abuse trial reconvened Tuesday after three full days of deliberation.

U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan said the jury would deliberate for at least one hour longer than usual if needed due to what she called an "astronomical spike" in COVID-19 cases in the New York area.

The judge told attorneys the move was meant to safeguard against the (quote) “high and escalating risk that jurors and/or trial participants may need to quarantine.”

Maxwell, who turned 60 on Christmas Day, is accused of recruiting and grooming four teenage girls to have sexual encounters with late financier Jeffrey Epstein between 1994 and 2004.

Over the three-week trial, jurors heard emotional and explicit testimony from the women, three of whom said Maxwell herself touched their nude bodies.

The daughter of late British media baron Robert Maxwell has pleaded not guilty to six counts of sex trafficking and other crimes. Her lawyers argue prosecutors are treating her as a scapegoat for Epstein, her former boyfriend and employer, who killed himself in 2019 in a Manhattan jail cell while awaiting trial on sex abuse charges.

Jurors on Monday asked the judgefor the definition ofthe word “enticement” and also requested some office supplies, including a white paper board, different colored post-it notes and highlighters.

Jurors have also asked for transcripts of the four women's testimony, as well as the testimony of other witnesses prosecutors called to corroborate their accounts.

Maxwell's defense repeatedly questioned the women's credibility during cross-examination, arguing their memories had become corrupted over the years and that they did not mention any involvement by Maxwell in earlier accounts of their abuse.

Maxwell faces up to 70 years in prison if convicted on all six counts.

Jurors will continue to deliberate until 6pm – one hour later than usual – in the days to come if no verdict is reached on Tuesday.

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