By Luc Cohen
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Ghislaine Maxwell's criminal trial entered its eighth day on Wednesday, after jurors heard testimony from three women who said they were teenagers when the British socialite set them up for sexual abuse by the late financier Jeffrey Epstein.
Prosecutors are expected to call one more alleged victim to take the stand, and may wrap up their case as soon as Thursday, about two weeks faster than they had originally forecast.
The defense would then have a chance to present a case. It is unclear whether Maxwell would testify, given the prospect she could face a lengthy cross-examination by prosecutors.
Maxwell, 59, has pleaded not guilty to eight counts of sex trafficking and other charges for her alleged role in recruiting and grooming girls for Epstein to abuse between 1994 and 2004.
Her lawyers have said her accusers' memories have been corrupted over the years, and that Maxwell is being scapegoated for Epstein's alleged conduct.
The globetrotting investor died by suicide in 2019 in a Manhattan jail cell while awaiting his own sex abuse trial.
Two of the women who have testified, identified as Jane and Carolyn, said they had sexual contact with Epstein starting when they were 14.
Carolyn's case underlies Maxwell's sex trafficking charge, because she was allegedly paid for interactions with Epstein. She said the encounters began as massages before escalating.
In more than four hours of often tearful testimony on Tuesday, Carolyn recalled telling Maxwell about her troubled childhood, including that her mother was an alcoholic and that she was molested by her grandfather at age 4.
She also said she was nude and preparing to massage Epstein, when Maxwell once fondled her.
"What she did was wrong," Carolyn said.
Maxwell's lawyers have argued that Carolyn, Jane and a third woman who testified for the government, Kate, had incentives to implicate Maxwell because they received seven-figure settlements from a compensation fund for Epstein's victims.
Kate was described as a victim in the 2021 indictment against Maxwell, but U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan ruled that her encounters with Epstein were not illegal because she was old enough to consent.
(Reporting by Luc Cohen; Editing by Sandra Maler)