Witness testimony continues in trial of Jeffrey Epstein confidante Ghislaine Maxwell

The trial of Ghislaine Maxwell, the confidante of deceased billionaire sex-offender Jeffrey Epstein, continued for a third day on Wednesday with testimony from a witness who said Epstein repeatedly abused her starting in 1994, when she was 14 years old.

The witness is the first of four Epstein accusers to take the stand and is known in the courtroom only as “Jane.” She has testified that she originally met Maxwell and Epstein while eating ice cream with friends at a camp in Michigan in 1994 for which the wealthy New York City investment adviser was a benefactor.

Maxwell, 59, is on trial in federal court in Lower Manhattan and faces six charges, including child sex trafficking. Another charge is that she enticed a minor to travel from her home in Florida to New York between 1994 and 1997 to engage in illegal sex acts with Epstein and his wealthy elite associates.

Audrey Strauss, Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, speaks during a news conference to announce charges against Ghislaine Maxwell for her alleged role in the sexual exploitation and abuse of multiple minor girls by Jeffrey Epstein, Thursday, July 2, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

The defendant was arrested at her home in a remote area of New Hampshire on July 2, 2020. At that time prosecutors said that Maxwell “played a critical role in helping Epstein to identify, befriend, and groom minor victims for abuse. In some cases, Maxwell participated in the abuse herself.”

Maxwell has been detained without bail for the 17 months since her arrest at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, New York, on the grounds that she is a flight risk. She was born in France and is the daughter of the British media mogul Robert Maxwell, who died in 1991, and she has citizenship in the UK and US. Her personal wealth is estimated at somewhere between $20 and $35 million.

In her court testimony on Tuesday, Jane said that the sexual abuse took place at Epstein’s properties in Florida, New York and Mexico and sometimes involved groups of others including Maxwell. She described in detail how Maxwell befriended her and enticed her into a relationship with Epstein while she was in the eighth grade in Palm Beach, Florida.

When prosecutor Alison Moe asked about Maxwell’s demeanor during these encounters with Epstein, Jane said, “I would say it seemed very casual, like it was very normal, like it was not a big deal.”

During her testimony, Jane said that Maxwell and Epstein did “a lot of bragging” about celebrities and the wealthy elite that they knew as a means of showing off that “they were very well connected and affluent.”

The witness said she wanted her identity concealed because she is a working actor. She also explained that she did not report her ordeal to authorities until after the death of Epstein in 2019 because she feared professional blow-back in Hollywood.

During cross-examination on Wednesday, Maxwell’s lawyer, Laura Menninger, sought to undermine the credibility of Jane before the jury by challenging her memory of details about the events that took place more than 25 years ago. The main line of questioning from the defense involved an attempt to show that the witness accusations against Maxwell were financially motivated. 

The defense also directed questions to Jane about the celebrities in contact with Epstein and Maxwell. At one point, Jane said that Epstein had taken her to Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida in the 1990s where she said she met the future US president.

On redirect questioning, a prosecutor asked Jane why it had been difficult for her to discuss even with investigators the sexual abuse and why she had not been able to “share with the government all of the details of what had happened to you.” The witness replied, “It was too difficult, too difficult emotionally, too difficult on every level.”

Witness testimony on Tuesday also included that of Larry Visoski, Jeffrey Epstein’s former pilot, who said that the billionaire frequently flew with a who’s who of powerful men aboard his private passenger jet.

Although Visoski did not say that any of the passengers were engaged in illegal activities with Epstein’s underage girls, he said he had seen Bill Clinton, Trump, Prince Andrew, Maine Senator George Mitchell, Ohio Senator John Glenn, actor Kevin Spacey and musician Itzhak Perlman on the plane that became known as “The Lolita Express.”

Visoski said Clinton was on Epstein’s plane a few times and Trump more than once. Perlman traveled on the plane to Interlochen Center for the Arts, the Michigan-based arts camp and school that Jane attended, the pilot testified.

The pilot also said he met Jane and described her as having piercing blue eyes. Visoski said, “Mr. Epstein brought her to the cockpit and introduced her to me.”

He said Maxwell was a frequent traveler on Epstein’s jet between 1994 and 2004 and would often facilitate travel plans. Visoski also said Maxwell was Epstein’s “number two” and was his “go-to person to handle everything else that was not business related.”

Maxwell was arrested nearly one year after Jeffrey Epstein was found dead in his jail cell in the Manhattan Corrections Center while he was awaiting trial on federal charges of sex trafficking minors. Epstein had also been denied bail and, one month after his arrest, he was discovered unresponsive in his cell and died on August 10, 2019. While his death was ruled “suicide by hanging” by the New York City medical examiner, other evidence emerged supporting a conclusion that Epstein was murdered while in custody.

There is a mountain of evidence regarding both Epstein’s criminal sex trafficking activity and Maxwell’s participation within it. The only reason that the two were able to maintain their depraved operation—that exploited a network of working-class teenage girls from West Palm Beach—for more than two decades without interruption is because of their enormous wealth and elite connections within the political and criminal justice establishment.

Likewise, since Epstein had invited so many wealthy businessmen, politicians, royal family members and elites from various countries to parties at his upscale New York, Palm Beach and Paris residences—as well as his private island in the US Virgin Islands—there were many who would do nearly anything to keep the details of their relationship with Epstein from being disclosed to the public.