Claiming Virgil Abloh was a defendant in the Maxwell case is wrong

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The claim: Virgil Abloh was a defendant in the Ghislaine Maxwell trial

Virgil Abloh, who died of cancer on November 28, was the first black artistic director to lead Louis Vuitton’s menswear and had close ties to several personalities in the music world.

He founded the controversial fashion label Off-White, which was beloved by figures like Rihanna and Kid Cudi and known for pieces marked with ironic quotes, like a sweatshirt labeled “BUSINESS CASUAL,” Vox reported in 2018.

But Abloh’s death came a day before Ghislaine Maxwell’s trial on federal sex trafficking charges, and some conspiracy theorists have attempted to link the two events.

One of those posts, a meme from the “Liberty Memes for the Libertarian Soul” Facebook page, claims that Abloh was an accused at trial.

“Virgil Abloh, accused in the Maxwell case, dies a day before trial,” read the meme, which more than 450 users shared after its publication on November 29. “Here we go.”

The meme superimposed the claim over a photo of Heath Ledger as the Joker in “The Dark Knight.”

Checking the facts:Press and general public admitted to the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell

Other Twitter and Facebook posts substantiated the claim with screenshots of a court document for a case allegedly listing Abloh as a defendant alongside Maxwell, Beyonce and others.

But Abloh was not an accused in Maxwell’s trial. The official indictment and the Justice Department press release for the trial show Maxwell to be the only accused.

The theory that celebrities like Abloh and Beyonce are involved in Maxwell’s criminal case stems from confusion around an earlier civil lawsuit that has no connection to Maxwell’s criminal case.

USA TODAY has contacted several users who shared the post for comment.

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Abloh was not an accused in the ongoing Maxwell trial

Before Maxwell’s trial, social media users shared screenshots of a civil lawsuit that accused Maxwell and 37 other high-profile defendants of participating in a “lucrative but sociopathic criminal enterprise in which (they) engaged in decades of human trafficking human, sexual assault and various abuses “. The articles claimed that these celebrities were all part of the ongoing federal lawsuit against Maxwell.

It was this document that sowed the seed of allegations regarding Abloh, who is the 28th person on the list.

Ghislaine Maxwell faces federal sex trafficking charges involving charges that she tricked underage victims into having unwanted sex with disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein.

However, this case bears no relation to Maxwell’s case, as reported by USA TODAY. Texas resident Charlene Latham filed a lawsuit in August 2020 against Epstein’s estate, the 1953 Trust and the other defendants, according to the US District Court filing for the Southern District of New York.

A judge classified the case as “frivolous” the following month, USA TODAY reported.

Checking the facts:The list of Ghislaine Maxwell’s “co-conspirators” comes from a previous trial

Our rating: False

Based on our research, we find FALSE the claim that Abloh was a defendant in the Maxwell trial. Documents and press releases from the DOJ and the U.S. District Court show that Maxwell is the sole accused in the federal lawsuit against her.

Our sources of fact-checking:

  • The New York Times, November 29, What happened on the first day of Ghislaine Maxwell’s trial
  • Liberty Memes for the Libertarian Soul, November 29, Facebook post
  • @chadlattanzio, November 23 Tweeter
  • @Kizzazz, November 26, Tweet
  • Department of Justice, updated November 29, US v. Ghislaine Maxwell
  • US District Court Southern District of New York, July 8, 2020, Indictment 20 CR 330 in United States v. Ghislaine Maxwell
  • U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, August 31, 2020, complaint in Latham v. 1953 Tr.
  • USA TODAY, November 30, Fact check: Ghislaine Maxwell’s list of “co-conspirators” comes from a previous trial
  • USA TODAY, November 28, Virgil Abloh, pioneer director of Louis Vuitton, dies at 41 after private battle with cancer
  • Vox, October 30, 2018, The world’s hottest fashion brand was built on irony and $ 1,000 sweatshirts

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