Ghislaine Maxwell: trial to enter second day with Epstein's pilot testifying

Photograph: Carlo Allegri/Reuters

Ghislaine Maxwell’s child sex-trafficking trial enters its second day of testimony on Tuesday, with the longtime pilot of her alleged accomplice, the late financier Jeffrey Epstein, returning to the witness stand in federal court in Manhattan.

Maxwell, 59, has pleaded not guilty to six counts arising from allegedly procuring teen girls for Epstein, some as young as 14. Epstein killed himself in August 2019 while jailed awaiting his own trial for his transportation and abuse of minor teens.

Lawrence Paul Visoski Jr, who worked for Epstein from 1991 to 2019, began his testimony on Monday afternoon. He testified that Maxwell was approximately 30 when he met her in 1991, and claimed “we interacted quite often. She was on a lot of the flights”.

The pilot testified that Maxwell oversaw Epstein’s households. Questioned about Maxwell and Epstein’s relationship, he said: “I thought it was more personal than business.”

The duo remained close into the 2000s. Visoski said their relationship wasn’t necessarily romantic but it was “couple-ish”. Visoski said he didn’t see them holding hands or kissing.

Visoski’s testimony came after the defense’s opening remarks. Maxwell’s lead attorney, Bobbi Sternheim, cast the Briton as a patsy for Epstein’s crimes – going so far as to invoke the Bible.

“Ever since Eve was accused of tempting Adam for the apple, women have been blamed for the bad behavior of men and women are often villainized and punished more than the men ever are,” Sternheim argued. “The charges against Ghislaine Maxwell are for things that Jeffrey Epstein did.

“But she is not Jeffrey Epstein. She is not like Jeffrey Epstein – and she is not like any of the other men, powerful men, moguls, media giants, who abuse women.”

Prior to Sternheim’s argument, prosecutor Lara Pomerantz argued that Maxwell was complicit in Epstein’s crimes, arguing: “She knew what was going to happen to those girls.”

Maxwell “preyed on vulnerable young girls, manipulated them and served them up to be sexually abused”, she said.

“The defendant was trafficking kids for sex.”

Pomerantz continued: “Maxwell was Epstein’s best friend and right hand. She was involved in every detail of Epstein’s life. The defendant and Epstein were partners in crime.”

Maxwell also faces two counts for allegedly lying under oath, for which she will be tried separately. Those charges stem from longtime Epstein accuser Virginia Giuffre’s civil suit against Maxwell.

Giuffre has alleged that Maxwell and Epstein coerced her into sexual activity with Prince Andrew at the age of 17. Giuffre filed suit against Maxwell, who had called her a liar. Maxwell and the Duke of York insist on their innocence.

  • In the US, call or text the Childhelp abuse hotline on 800-422-4453. In the UK, the NSPCC offers support to children on 0800 1111, and adults concerned about a child on 0808 800 5000. The National Association for People Abused in Childhood (Napac) offers support for adult survivors on 0808 801 0331. In Australia, children, young adults, parents and teachers can contact the Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800, or Bravehearts on 1800 272 831, and adult survivors can contact Blue Knot Foundation on 1300 657 380. Other sources of help can be found at Child Helplines International

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