A prosecution witness pointed across a New York courtroom at Ghislaine Maxwell as she accused the British socialite of being present — and taking part — while Jeffrey Epstein repeatedly sexually abused her, starting from the age of 14.
The woman, her identity concealed under the pseudonym “Jane”, on Tuesday told the jury the abuse continued for years while she was still a minor, and that Maxwell was either present or participated on several occasions.
“It would happen almost every visit with him, which would have been every two weeks,” Jane, who is now a professional actress, testified, saying the first such encounter left her feeling “terrified”, ashamed and numb.
The bombshell testimony came on the second day of Maxwell’s criminal trial for allegedly trafficking underage girls for her and Epstein to sexually abuse. She has strongly denied the charges, which could result in more than 70 years behind bars.
Maxwell’s lawyers have claimed that she is being made a scapegoat for Epstein, a college dropout who amassed a mysterious fortune and befriended world leaders, British royalty and tycoons in finance and technology before his downfall. He was arrested on sex-trafficking charges in July 2019 and then hanged himself in a jail cell a month later.
The government claims that Maxwell, the daughter of the late British press baron Robert Maxwell, was instrumental to Epstein’s abuse because she was adept at gaining the trust of vulnerable younger women so they could be manipulated. She did so, in part, prosecutors say, to maintain access to the luxurious lifestyle Epstein provided.
Jane recounted for the jury, in often excruciating detail, how her relationship with Epstein and Maxwell evolved from seemingly benevolent patronage to predation.
She recalled how she met the pair in the summer of 1994, when she was 14 and attending a performing arts summer camp in Michigan of which Epstein was a benefactor. Her father had died of cancer nine months earlier, and the family was forced to move into a pool house.
“Basically, my family went into complete bankruptcy,” she recalled.
A month after their initial meeting, Epstein sent a chauffeur to whisk Jane and her mother to his Palm Beach estate for tea, where he told them he liked to support young artists, she testified. Jane began to visit regularly, without her mother, spending time at the pool with Epstein and Maxwell. They paid for her singing lessons, she said, and also took her shopping and to the movies.
Jane initially viewed Maxwell as an older sister. But the conversation gradually became more adult, she said, with Maxwell asking her on one occasion if she had a boyfriend and then counselling: “‘Remember when you do, once you fuck them you can always fuck them again because they’re grandfathered in.’”
The younger woman did not even know what the term “grandfathered” meant, she said.
Epstein abused her by himself the first time, Jane said. On another occasion, when she was still 14, he led her and Maxwell to his bedroom. “They moved me over the bed and took their clothes off,” Jane recalled. “I was just standing there and he asked me to take my top off. Then there were hands everywhere.” Other occasions involved Epstein, Maxwell and other girls: “It would turn into this orgy,” she said.
Jane’s voice broke during her testimony and she sobbed at one point, recalling an occasion when Maxwell fetched her from her room one night at Epstein’s Santa Fe ranch on his orders. “I did not want to go see him,” she said.
During cross-examination, Maxwell’s attorney, Laura Menninger, questioned whether Jane’s family was as destitute as claimed — noting that they lived for a period in a house in a gated community near a golf course.
Maxwell’s lawyer also noted that Jane did not speak to the government until 20 years after the alleged abuse, and appeared with two personal injury lawyers — presumably, said Menninger, because she had a financial motive. She was eventually awarded $5m from an Epstein victims compensation fund, although she only received $2.9m of that amount, Jane said, after lawyers’ fees and other deductions.
Menninger is expected to continue her cross-examination on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, earlier on Tuesday Epstein’s longtime pilot, Lawrence Visoski, told the jury he had never seen evidence of Epstein’s abuse during almost 30 years at his service. If he had even an “inkling”, said Visoski, “they would have never seen my daughters and I would have reported it”.
A prosecutor fired back: “Did you ever let your daughters give Jeffrey Epstein a massage?”
“No,” he replied.