1st of 4 Epstein Accusers Testifies Against Ghislaine Maxwell

Woman says Maxwell was often in the room when Epstein sexually abused her at 14
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 1, 2021 12:03 AM CST
1st of 4 Epstein Accusers Testifies Against Ghislaine Maxwell
In this courtroom sketch, defense attorney Jeffrey Pagliuca, left, confers with Ghislaine Maxwell after making an argument to Judge Nathan during Maxwell's sex trafficking trial, Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021, in New York.   (AP Photo/Elizabeth Williams)

(Newser) – The first of four women described as key accusers in the indictment against British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell testified Tuesday that Maxwell was often in the room when the witness, then just 14, had sexual interactions with the financier Jeffrey Epstein. Prosecutors went to the heart of their sex trafficking case against Maxwell with their second witness, a woman in her early 40s who was introduced to jurors as “Jane,” a pseudonym she said she prefers, in part to protect a 22-year acting career. During sexual encounters that began in 1994 and continued through 1997, Maxwell “was very casual,” she told a New York City jury. “Like it was no big deal.” The witness testified in a quiet but steady voice, although she got choked up twice and also dabbed at her nose with a tissue as she described the sexual encounters. She said Maxwell instructed her on how to give Epstein sexual massages and sometimes physically participated, the AP reports.

She also largely avoided looking at Maxwell, except when she pointed an index finger when she was asked to identify her. Maxwell maintained a steady gaze in the witness's direction, occasionally writing notes that she passed to lawyers. Some jurors leaned forward to hear the witness while occasionally glancing at Maxwell. The witness' testimony was offered by prosecutors to support their claims that Maxwell recruited and groomed girls for Epstein to sexually abuse from 1994 to at least 2004. The witness first met Epstein and Maxwell in 1994 when she was attending a music camp in pursuit of a singing career, she said. The woman and her mother soon received an invitation to Epstein’s home and although her mother was not included in subsequent invites, she remained “very impressed and enamored with the wealth, the affluence,” and believed Maxwell and Epstein must really think her daughter was special, the woman testified.

Soon, Epstein and Maxwell were taking her shopping for clothes, including underwear from Victoria’s Secret, and having soul-searching conversations with her. The cycle of abuse started when Epstein abruptly took her by the hand one day and said, “Follow me,” before taking her to a pool house at the home. Then he pulled down his pants, pulled her close, and “proceeded to masturbate,” she said. “I was frozen in fear,” she said. “I’d never seen a penis before. ... I was terrified and felt gross and felt ashamed.” Another time, she was taken to a massage room where he and Maxwell both took advantage of her, she said. Other encounters involved sex toys or turned into oral sex “orgies” with other young women and Maxwell, she added. On cross-examination, a defense lawyer asked why she waited over 20 years to report the alleged abuse by Maxwell to law enforcement. (The prosecution's first witness was a former pilot for Epstein.)

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