Ghislaine Maxwell was in the room during Jeffrey Epstein abuse, says accuser in sex-trafficking trial

Witness “Jane” testifies during Ghislaine Maxwell‘s trial on charges of sex trafficking, in a courtroom sketch in New York – REUTERS/Jane Rosenberg

The first accuser to take the stand in the sex-trafficking trial of Ghislaine Maxwell broke down on Tuesday as she described how the British socialite “fondled” her breasts and forced her to take part in orgies with other young girls.

The woman, known by the pseudonym “Jane”, pointed Ms Maxwell out in the New York federal courtroom on the second day of the bombshell trial when asked by the prosecution if she was present.

Jane told the court that she was forced at age 14 to perform sex acts on the pair and that Ms Maxwell would order her to undress and give Jeffrey Epstein massages in his various homes in Florida, New Mexico and New York.

The woman, now a 41-year-old actress, dabbed her nose with a tissue and held back tears as she detailed how the pair would place vibrators in intimate places “even when I said it hurt”.

Jane said Ms Maxwell and Epstein first approached her and a group of classmates while they were eating ice cream at an arts summer camp in Michigan in the summer of 1994, when she was 14. Jane was a singer, but she said her family in Palm Beach, Florida, were struggling financially after her father's death the prior year.

Epstein told her that he was a big benefactor at the school and wanted to help gifted, underprivileged children. The pair asked for Jane's mother's number, which she said she provided.

After camp ended, Epstein invited her and her mother over for tea, Jane said. She would continue her visits to his home in Palm Beach alone.

On one of those occasions, Jane testified that Epstein offered to help her with her singing career before ending the conversation abruptly.

She described her early impression of Ms Maxwell, who has denied the allegations, as “like an older sister”. “She seemed odd and quirky. She would tease me at times. She was nice.”

The cycle of abuse started when Epstein abruptly took her by the hand one day and said “follow me”. He led her to the pool house and pulled down his trousers and began masturbating, Jane testified.

“I was frozen in fear,” she said. “I’d never see a penis before. … I was terrified and felt gross.”

She said Ms Maxwell, 59, was present during “at least two” of the incidents but likely more.

On one instance, she said: “They moved me over to the bed and took their clothes off. And they started to sort of like fondle each other,” adding that Ms Maxwell and Epstein were “casually giggling” as she stood there.

“[They] asked me to take my top off,” she continued. “Then there were hands everywhere … Jeffrey proceeded to masturbate again. [Ms Maxwell was] rubbing on him, kissing on him.

She would allegedly instruct Jane on what Epstein liked. “He wanted his nipples twisted and very hard shoulder massages.”

On several occasions she claimed other young girls joined them and it would “turn into an orgy” with them each performing acts on one another. “I was abused pretty much every time I went to his house. I became numb to it.”

In the brief breaks in testimony, Jane, who had a scrunched-up tissue in her hand, and Ms Maxwell avoided eye contact. Ms Maxwell shuffled uncomfortably.

Jane said the abuse occurred every two weeks for two years between the ages of 14 and 16 when she would see the late financier.

Ms Maxwell arranged travel for Jane between Epstein’s homes. She recalled on one occasion, aged 15, being flown on Epstein’s private jet to his ranch near Santa Fe in New Mexico.

However, she was told to make her own way back on a commercial flight. “I was 15, I had no driver’s licence, or ID to get on the airplane. I called them freaking out and Ghislaine made it happen. She called someone to get me on the fight.”

Her family was living in the pool house of a friend’s home after her father died, leaving them bankrupt. She remembers Epstein sending a chauffeur to pick her up and seeing this “big, beautiful home. It was not a pool house”, she laughed.

Jane said Epstein would boast about how connected he was, often putting famous people he knew on speakerphone for her to hear.

They would shower her with attention and presents, including a pair of white underwear from Victoria’s Secret. “Initially, I felt special, they listened to me.”

She said she was afraid to tell her mother as she was a manic-depressive who was struggling after the death of her husband. “She made me feel like I should be grateful for their help. She was enamoured by their wealth.

“I felt very ashamed, disgusted, confused. I didn’t know if it was my fault.”

Jane told the jury how she was awarded $5 million by the Epstein Victim’s Compensation Fund set up after his death in 2019. It was only then she came forward with the accusations.

The defence has tried to claim Ms Maxwell’s four accusers have only come forward in an attempt to extract money from Epstein and his alleged co-conspirators.

The accuser confirmed that she did not speak to law enforcement until 20 years after the incident and did so once Epstein had died.

Appearing earlier, Lawrence Visoski, Epstein’s pilot for nearly 30 years, recalled the numerous occasions Ms Maxwell flew on Epstein’s private jet, nicknamed the “Lolita Express”.

The pilot worked during the period when the four women in Ms Maxwell’s indictment allege they were sexually abused and he recalled meeting Jane in the mid-to-late 1990s.

Mr Visoski denied knowing her age, describing her as “a mature woman with piercing powder-blue eyes”.

The pilot was pressed by the defence about previous comments he made in which he noted Jane’s “large breasts” but simply replied that he saw her as “a mature woman”.

Ms Maxwell, who has been held in a US jail since her arrest in July last year, denies all charges.

The trial continues.

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