Ghislaine Maxwell was present during some of Jeffrey Epstein’s sexual assaults, accuser tells court

The woman known only as ‘Jane’ told a Manhattan jury that Ghislaine Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein had approached her after her father died of leukemia , leaving her family nearly bankrupt

Io Dodds
San Francisco
Tuesday 30 November 2021 23:33
Maxwell, Epstein were 'partners in crime,' prosecutor says

Ghislaine Maxwell was in the room when Jeffrey Epstein sexually assaulted one of his 14-year-old victims, a court has heard.

In testimony before a New York jury, a woman known publicly only as "Jane" identified Ms Maxwell in the dock and said she had been present during some of Epstein’s assaults.

The woman, who was 14 at the time, said Ms Maxwell and Epstein had targeted her after her family was driven into severe medical debt by the death of her father from leukemia, presenting themselves as rich philanthropists.

Asked who had most frequently been present when she was abused, "Jane" said: "Ghislaine Maxwell." One time, she said, Ms Maxwell kissed and fondled Epstein in front of her.

The encounters, she said, “ruined my self-esteem, my self-worth”, leaving her struggling to navigate healthy relationships. She said she had little support or attention at home during that time and that receiving attention from the pair had made her feel special.

Jane’s testimony came during the second day of Ms Maxwell’s trial for sex trafficking in New York City on Tuesday.

Ghislaine Maxwell in court

US prosecutors accuse Ms Maxwell of recruiting and grooming underage girls into a global abuse ring run by Epstein from his private island in the US Virgin Isles and other properties around the world.

Ms Maxwell maintains her innocence, and her defence team has argued she is being made a scapegoat because Epstein died in prison last year and will never face justice.

The court also heard from Epstein’s longtime pilot Larry Visoski, who testified that famous figures including Bill Clinton, Prince Andrew, Donald Trump, and Kevin Spacey all flew on Epstein’s private jet, known as the "Lolita express".

‘They seemed like a friendly married couple’

At times audibly emotional, Jane told the court that she had met Epstein and Ms Maxwell while studying at the Interlochen music academy in Michigan, after her family "essentially went bankrupt" from her composer father’s medical bills.

"We saw this tall thin woman approach us," Jane said. “She was walking a cute little Yorkie [terrier], and the Yorkie came by us and we asked if we could pet the dog.”

She said the pair had seemed like a married couple, "friendly and "inquisitive", asking for her mother’s phone number and Epstein saying he was a benefactor of the arts programme.

Later, she said, she began to visit Epstein’s house regularly, with occasional trips to see films. On one visit, she said at least four women and Ms Maxwell were topless or naked by the pool. "I was just shocked," she said, "because I hadn’t seen that before."

Jane testified that Epstein then started to pay for things for her – voice lessons, clothes, things for school" – and that Ms Maxwell had given her confusing advice that "if you f*** them, you can always f*** them".

The judge asked court artists to depict ‘Jane’ without identifying her

Jane then described being assaulted by Epstein, saying that he took her into the pool house, pulled down his sweatpants, pulled her on top of him and "proceeded to masturbate on [her]". She said the experience left her "frozen in fear"; she had never seen a penis before.

The court heard that Epstein would assault Jane every time she visited one of his homes, often under the pretense of receiving a massage, sometimes using sex toys and touching her "everywhere".

Prosecutors had told jurors on Monday that Ms Maxwell procured girls for Epstein via the "ruse" of a massage. Jane described Ms Maxwell’s attitude to these incidents as casual.

‘Jane’ says her mother made her keep quiet about her home life

At home, Jane said she received little help. She said her mother was "enamoured" by the idea that affluent people were interested in her, and told her she should be grateful for it.

Jane said that she did not tell her mother or siblings, because "I was afraid that I would be in trouble if I said something". She said she felt "helpless", and that she had considered self harm.

Later, after speaking with a school guidance counsellor, Jane said that her mother, whom she described as manic-depressive, slapped her and told her she shouldn’t embarrass the family by talking about what happened at home.

In cross-examination, Ms Maxwell’s defence team asked Jane to confirm that she had waited 20 years to report Epstein’s crimes, and probed her story of childhood financial hardship, producing a document that shows Jane did not apply for financial aid or a scholarship before meeting Epstein.

Asked by a prosecution lawyer why she chose to testify anonymously, Jane replied that she works in Hollywood and that "victim shaming is still very present until this day".

The trial continues.

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