December 9, 2021

Since Ghislaine Maxwell’s trial started on Nov. 29, misinformation has spread about how the sex trafficking case is playing out in the courtroom.

We’ve already debunked claims that a late designer was a co-defendant in the trial and that the “hysteria” around the omicron variant was timed to coincide and distract from the legal proceedings.

Another recent claim, that only one reporter is covering the trial, is also false.

“Can you believe this trial is uncovering the largest sex trafficking caes in our entire world and there’s only one reporter on site?” the Dec. 6 post says. “This is insane how much this case is being downplayed because of the big names like Bill Clinton, Jay Z, Prince of England, Pope John Paul, etc. Cameras are allowed, no gag order… and silencio!”

This post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

Maxwell was a friend of financier Jeffrey Epstein and she is accused of helping him sexually abuse minors. She has pleaded not guilty to federal charges of sex trafficking a minor, sex trafficking conspiracy, transporting a minor for the purposes of criminal sexual activity, and conspiring to entice minors to travel to engage in illegal sex acts.

As we’ve previously reported, the media isn’t allowed to have cameras in the courtroom. Maxwell is being tried in federal court where, with few exceptions, cameras and recording devices have not been allowed for decades.

Any photographing, recording, or rebroadcasting of the proceedings is prohibited by law, according to the Department of Justice, though there are overflow rooms in the courthouse for reporters and spectators where they can watch live feeds of the trial.

But that doesn’t mean reporters aren’t there. They are — and plenty of them.

Miami Herald reporter Julie K. Brown, who in 2017 broke many of the stories that brought worldwide attention to circumstances that led to the case, has tweeted about her experiences waiting to get into the courthouse and about what she’s witnessing during the trial. Brown spoke on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” about the conspiracy theories that the media isn’t covering the trial: “There’s so many media there that there’s, some days, three overflow courtrooms full of the public and media. So that isn’t an issue. The issue is the access to the actual courtroom where this is happening and the fact that there is a limited number of people who can actually get in.”

CNN reporter Lauren del Valle has filed stories and tweeted about the trialThe New York Times, the New York Post, the Independent and The Associated Press have been providing live updates from the trial.

A spokesperson with the district court where Maxwell’s trial is underway told us in a statement that the trial is open to anyone who would like to attend, and that during opening statements more than 140 people were in attendance.

“We have not yet turned anyone away from observing the trial,” the court said in a statement. “That includes both media and the general public.”

We rate this post False.

This fact check was originally published by PolitiFact, which is part of the Poynter Institute. It is republished here with permission. See the sources for this fact check here and more of their fact checks here.

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Ciara O'Rourke is a contributing writer for PolitiFact. Previously, Ciara covered local government and public safety for the Austin American-Statesman and fact-checked elected officials and…
Ciara O'Rourke

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