NEW YORK – The first week of Ghislaine Maxwell’s sexual abuse trial saw the first of her four main accusers stand before a witness to give emotional testimony accusing the site British society lured her – aged 14 – into sex with financier Jeffrey Epstein.
The jury at the federal trial in Manhattan also heard former employees give insight into the lavish lifestyle Epstein shared with Maxwell, who was his girlfriend and later employee.
Her lawyers say she was a scapegoat for Epstein, who committed suicide in 2019 while awaiting trial behind bars.
Here are snapshots from an experiment that gained international attention:
The first story of Maxwell’s accuser began innocently: The 14-year-old was eating ice cream at a music camp in 1994 when Epstein and Maxwell took her for a walk in her Yorkie.
What happened a few years later, the accuser said, left her scarred for life.
The witness – a woman now in her 40s who was introduced to the jury as “Jane” to protect her privacy – testified that Maxwell and Epstein groomed her by giving her She went shopping and invited her and her mother to Epstein’s mansion in Palm Beach, Florida.
She said it wasn’t long after she got home to visit that Maxwell and Epstein lured her into unwanted sex, which Maxwell considered “no big deal.” It’s a pattern that prosecutors hope to demonstrate over and over again with other girls and young women.
The defense demanded to know why “Jane” took so long to move on.
“I was so scared,” she said, tears welling in her eyes. “I’m so embarrassed, ashamed. I don’t want anyone to know anything about me.”
DEAF, DUMB AND BLIND
Prosecutors say Maxwell created “a culture of silence” to cover up her and Epstein’s crimes. And one piece of evidence seems to have put that culture into the text.
Those instructions are part of a 58-page booklet of rules for staff working at the mansion.
Prosecutors said Epstein ordered the construction of an isolated staff quarter surrounded by a high wall that blocked all views of the main home.
Juan Alessi, a former real estate manager, testified that he saw the privacy measure as “a kind of warning that I was supposed to be blind, deaf and dumb, unable to say anything about their lives.”
Alessi recalled meeting “Jane” a few times at the mansion and noticing that she looked underage. But he also said he never saw her enter the master bedroom with Epstein – or noticed anything else suspicious about her and the young women’s revolving doors that could indicate a sex offender. happening at his workplace.
He claims no one warned him of any wrongdoing.
“I wish they would because I’ve done something,” he said.
DEFENSE ON THE ATTACK
The defense has shown a number of tactics it intends to use to discredit “Jane” and three other key accusers, who are expected to testify before the end of the month.
Maxwell’s attorneys are seeking to portray their abusive accounts as unreliable, show they have faulty memories and are being manipulated by attorneys encouraging them to play Maxwell’s role in the cases. civil action after Epstein’s death.
One of the lawyers went so far as to deduce that “Jane” – a veteran TV actor – may be using his acting skills to supplement his testimony.
Lawyers dig into some of the storylines that “Jane” has dealt with over the years: protective mother, victim of bullying, someone being tracked by serial killers, prostitutes. “Not my favorite role,” the witness said of the last one.
When asked if her background makes her adept at giving her “hands-on and emotional handling of interpersonal situations,” she replied.
“Hopefully it’s not pretentious,” she said. “Just dramatic.”
Three more major accusers are waiting to testify against Maxwell. When that will happen remains unclear, with prosecutors staying tight-lipped about the order of their witnesses.
But the defense’s opening statement offered hints about the next accusers.
An attorney for Maxwell said a psychotherapist met Epstein in New York City when she was 16 and later visited his ranch in New Mexico. Another is a former British model who dated one of Maxwell’s friends.
The third was someone the defense claimed to have referred Epstein to other victims who did not fall into this category.
Other evidence the prosecution still intends to present: the flight logs of Epstein’s private jet – prosecutors say they confirm that Maxwell, Epstein and the alleged victims traveled together — and FedEx records confirm that Epstein sent a gift to a victim when she was 15 years old. old.
The trial is expected to last another five weeks.
Associated Press writers Jennifer Peltz and Larry Neumeister contributed to this report.