Ghislaine Maxwell's criminal trial got underway on Monday, with the prosecution naming her as the "partner in crime" of convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein to whom she "served up" girls to abuse.

On the opening day of the trial in New York, prosecutor Lara Pomerantz told the court that Maxwell and Epstein committed sexual crimes over ten years with a "playbook" they had detailing how to abuse underage girls. Dubbing Maxwell "the lady of the house," the prosecutor detailed one such incident where underage girls at a music camp were introduced to Maxwell and Epstein, who described himself as a donor there while his associate tried to target the minors for abuse, reports The Mirror.

The Assistant U.S. Attorney told the jurors, "Who was that woman targeting young girls for sexual abuse? It was the defendant: Ghislaine Maxwell. She helped normalise abusive sexual conduct."

Pomerantz further spoke about Jane, a girl who turned 14 years old that summer, and was sitting at a picnic table for kids when Epstein went to her with Maxwell and introduced himself as someone who gave scholarships for kids. The prosecutor said, "They asked Jane for her phone number. What Jane didn't know then was that this meeting at summer camp was the beginning of a nightmare that would last for years. This meeting was the beginning of that man and woman targeting Jane for sexual abuse that would last for years."

Pomerantz told the Lower Manhattan court that Maxwell sexually exploited young girls between 1994 and 2004, saying, "She preyed on vulnerable young girls, manipulated them and served them up to be sexually abused. The defendant was trafficking kids for sex."

The prosecutor added that Maxwell groomed the vulnerable girls as she walked them "into a room where she knew that man would molest them, and there were times she was in the room when it happened, making it all feel normal and casual."

Pomerantz described Maxwell as Epstein's "right hand" who remained best of friends with him even after their personal relationship ended. She said, "The defendant and Epstein were partners in crime. They had a playbook. First, they got access to young girls. Then they gained their trust. They learned about each girl's hopes and dreams. They learned about each girl's family. The defendant and Epstein promised these girls the world."

Meanwhile, a lawyer appearing for Maxwell likened Epstein to a "21st-century James Bond" who stirred interest with his mystery. Bobbi Sternheim, who has previously defended Al-Qaeda terrorists and Mafia mob killers, accused Epstein's accusers of having shaken the "money tree" in terms of applying for compensation from his victim's fund. She noted that Jane, the victim mentioned by the prosecutors, refused to tell her story before and only came forward once the compensation scheme had been launched.

"She is a consummate actress and is a pro at playing roles. As her scripts and characters changed, so has the story you will hear. When money was on the line, she tagged Ghislaine. She got her application before the fund and she received $5 million," the lawyer told the jury.

Maxwell, who is charged with recruiting, grooming, and abusing four underage girls for her one-time boyfriend, faces a maximum of 70 years in prison if she is convicted on all six counts and the sentences are to be served consecutively.

Sex offender Jeffrey Epstein
Jeffrey Epstein, who killed himself in a New York jail in 2019, was charged with trafficking minors for sex. Photo: Palm Beach County Sheriff's Department / HO