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Ghislaine Maxwell is concerned that public opinion will impede on her rights to a fair trial. Is Maxwell truly as bad as Charles Manson? Let's find out.

Is Ghislaine Maxwell as bad as Charles Manson? Let’s find out

Ghislaine Maxwell is concerned that public opinion will impede on her rights to a fair trial. The legal team for Maxwell’s accusers dismissed her concerns outright, and cited examples of other “celebrity” figures who were able to secure a fair trial despite being guilty in the eyes of the public. These celebrities included teamster leader Jimmy Hoffa and, most notably, cult leader Charles Manson.

The dubious comparison stems from Maxwell’s desire to keep information hidden from the public. The Jeffrey Epstein associate gave multiple depositions in which she detailed her sex life, but her legal team has tried to keep them sealed, fearing their release would “let the cat out of the bag” and jeopardize her chances of a fair trial. 

“The government has indicted Ghislaine Maxwell. The media have all but convicted her,” the legal team reasoned. “Unless this Court stays the unsealing of the deposition material, there will be nothing to protect against uncritical reporting of the deposition material’s contents. Reporting that will only undermine the ability to secure a fair trial for Ms. Maxwell.”

Cult leader comparison 

Maxwell accuser Virginia Giuffre didn’t buy it. In a recent filing for the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, Giuffre’s legal team urged the court to unseal Maxwell’s deposition in order to better illustrate her predatory habits. Giuffre’s legal team dismissed Maxwell’s concerns over public opinion and assured the judge that it would not affect their legal proceedings.

“Other high-profile cases where courts successfully managed extensive pretrial publicity and rejected defendants’ arguments that it compromised their right to a fair trial,” they wrote. “[These] include the trials of al-Qaeda affiliate Khalid al-Fawwaz, labor union leader Jimmy Hoffa and murderer and cult leader Charles Manson.”

Publicity and prejudice

“Cases holding pretrial publicity to be sufficiently prejudicial to a defendant’s criminal trial have typically occurred in small communities, and not in large cities such as New York,” the legal team added. “The fact that a case receives enormous publicity does not by itself establish error nor does conceded ‘massive’ publicity automatically translate into prejudice.”

The phrase “does not automatically translate into prejudice” was lifted directly from the transcripts of the Manson trial in 1972. Manson was convicted of first degree murder for ordering the Tate-LaBianca killings in 1969 and sentenced to death. His conviction was changed to life in prison after California’s Supreme Court overturned all death sentences prior to the 1970s. Manson remained behind bars until his death in 2017.

Multiple lawsuits

Maxwell is facing legal problems outside of her similarities to Manson. Federal prosecutors recently asked a judge to halt proceedings in a lawsuit filed by one of Maxwell’s other accusers, on the grounds that it would pose a “significant risk” to the ongoing criminal prosecution against her.

Prosecutors told ABC that there is a “factual overlap between the civil and criminal cases” against Maxwell, which could result in premature disclosure of evidence and repetitious testimony from witnesses in both cases. They also listed off the various repercussions that could result from letting the cases proceed simultaneously.

Seeking justice

“Permitting any discovery to proceed in this lawsuit would enable Maxwell to seek a preview of trial testimony in the criminal case,” they explained. “[It] would afford her with a broader array of discovery than she is entitled to in the criminal case. [It] could [also] potentially expose witnesses and/or their families to harassment.”

Robert Glassman, the attorney for Maxwell’s accuser, is opposed to the delay and has publicly voiced concern over the effects it could have on their ruling. “[Doe] is seeking to hold defendant Maxwell accountable for the heinous and sick sexual acts she committed against [her] over the course of several years while [she] was just a child,” he stated. “[She] is best served by pressing forward — not waiting even longer for justice.”

Maxwell’s trial is scheduled for July 2021.

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