NEW YORK — The sex trafficking trial of Jeffrey Epstein pal Ghislaine Maxwell continued into its third day on Wednesday, with Maxwell’s defense attorney cross-examining one of the women accusing Maxwell of sexual abuse.
The former girlfriend of convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein is standing trial in federal court in Manhattan on six counts related to the sex trafficking of minors including sex trafficking of a minor, enticing a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, and transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity. If convicted, Maxwell faces up to 80 years in prison.
Maxwell’s defense lawyer Laura Menninger peppered the accuser, who is testifying under the pseudonym “Jane,” with questions for hours about how accurately she remembers her teen years, when the alleged sexual abuse occurred. Menninger compared what “Jane” told the FBI in previous years with her more recent statements, accusing her of contradicting herself on several topics, including on how involved Maxwell was in the alleged abuse.
Menninger quizzed “Jane” on details such as if she remembered whether she was 13 or 14 when she met Epstein. “Jane” testified that she met the purported billionaire investment manager at a performing arts summer camp in Michigan right around her 14th birthday in 1994.
Menninger also claimed “Jane” had previously said she could not remember whether Maxwell had ever touched her sexually.
“That’s not true,” responded “Jane.”
“Jane” added that the first time she saw Maxwell naked marked when the “fun, casual relationship I had with her just changed.”
The defense attorney also challenged the accuser on her changing story around when she went to see “The Lion King” on Broadway with Epstein and Maxwell. Previously, “Jane” had said that trip happened when she was 14, but the show did not come out until she was 17. “Jane” clarified in court that she did go see the show with Epstein and Maxwell but acknowledged that she got the timeline wrong.
“A lot of this is out of sequence and incorrect,” she said of the FBI’s notes from her interviews with investigators. “This is not a transcript.”
The defense also tried to show that “Jane” has a financial incentive in accusing Maxwell. Menninger accused “Jane” of traveling “on Epstein’s dime” after she escaped the abuse. She also asked her whether she had ever “cried” because Epstein gave her only $2000 for a teen beauty pageant dress.
“That’s ridiculous. I would never do that,” she responded.
Menninger went on to ask whether “Jane” knew that her cooperation in the criminal trial would help her then-pending civil litigation or her claim with the Epstein victim fund, which ended up awarding her $5 million. “Jane” responded that she did not know that.
The defense also brought up “Jane’s” acting career, suggesting that she may be acting on the witness stand. Menninger asked her whether she can “cry on command” and noted that she has played a prostitute in a soap opera.
“Not my favorite storyline,” she responded.
Later, prosecutor Alison Moe also asked “Jane” about her motivation in cooperating in this trial.
“Jane” said she was “hoping I could help” and wants to “hopefully finally find some closure to all of this,” namely the “pain, abuse, and suffering” she endured, since it’s “something that I have been running from my entire life.”
She broke down in tears when she spoke about the money she received from the Epstein victims fund.
“I wish I would have never received that money in the first place because of what happened,” she said, her voice faltering.
The state’s third witness took the stand after “Jane,” a man testifying under the pseudonym “Matt,” who is “Jane’s” ex-boyfriend. The two dated for 8 years from 2006 until 2014. “Jane” described Epstein to “Matt” as a sort of “godfather” to her and told him about Epstein’s sexual abuse of her after Epstein’s first sex offender conviction in Florida 2008.
“Matt” testified that “Jane” told both him and her mother that the money Epstein gave her “wasn’t f***ing free.”
“I couldn’t understand why her mother would let her go and be with a man alone,” he told the court.
When Maxwell was arrested, “Matt” asked “Jane” whether Maxwell was the woman “Jane” had told him was present in Epstein’s house and made her feel more comfortable, and “Jane” confirmed that she was.
Maxwell appeared relaxed in court on Wednesday except for a few moments when she sat very still and sank down in her chair. She wore an army green sweater and black slacks and chatted frequently with her attorneys and others in the gallery, using lots of animated hand gestures. Before the trial resumed in the morning, she organized some papers and summoned a lawyer over to give her a pen. During a break, she hugged her attorney and chatted with her older sister Isabel for several minutes.
When “Jane” finished her testimony and stepped down from witness stand, Maxwell stared at her as she walked out of the courtroom, turning her head to watch her walk out the door.