When you look back through photographs of Ghislaine Maxwell out and about on New York’s social scene the heiress always appeared to be surrounded by adoring friends and occasional lovers. By all accounts she possessed a kind of unquantifiable magnetism that drew people in.
But at the opening of her sex-trafficking case on Monday morning they were nowhere to be seen.
Her older sister Isabel cast a lonely figure as the sole member of the Maxwell clan to turn out in support. Even husband, American entrepreneur Scott Borgerson, was notably absent.
One self-described former friend, Christopher Mason, spoke briefly to gathered reporters, telling them he couldn’t believe how far his old pal had fallen. He had come to gawp at the spectacle of the whole thing.
Maxwell’s side was vastly outnumbered by Ghislaine’s accusers. They waited patiently in line with journalists and members of the public to get their chance to see the woman they claim facilitated their abuse at the hands of her former boyfriend, Jeffrey Epstein. The prosecution is only citing four victims in court. She has denied the charges.
It was a day some of them had waited more than two decades for.
Sarah Ransome, a British woman who alleges she was groomed by Maxwell and raped by Epstein, but is not due to testify, held back tears as she told media: “I have so many emotions. I never thought this day would come.”
Reporters queued up outside the federal Thurgood Marshall courthouse in Lower Manhattan – situated just steps from the prison where Epstein was found hanged in his cell – from 5am on the dark and chilly November morning. Arriving at 5.45am, I found myself in 12th place. I had bought myself a battery-powered gillet to protect against the biting pre-dawn cold.