Ghislaine Maxwell’s sex-trafficking trial wrapped up earlier than expected, with testimony spanning 12 days rather than the anticipated six weeks. The defense called only eight witnesses on Thursday and Friday before resting its case.
The socialite, who turns 60 on Christmas Day, is accused of recruiting teenage girls for Jeffrey Epstein, the late multimillionaire and her former boyfriend, to sexually exploit through “massages” in the 1990s and early 2000s. She also was accused of abusing some victims herself. She has pleaded not guilty and denied any involvement with Epstein’s sex crimes.
The jury began deliberating late in the afternoon on Monday after closing arguments and will resume their discussions on Tuesday morning.
Prosecutors called 24 witnesses in 10 days, including the four victims listed in the indictment against Maxwell who were as young as 14 when Epstein molested them. Two accusers testified under the pseudonyms “Jane” and “Kate”; a third, Carolyn, used her first name; and the last, Annie Farmer, was identified by her full name. The women described Maxwell as the financier’s chief accomplice who recruited them into his teenage sex ring, groomed them, and facilitated the abuse at his homes around the world.
The trial shed new light on the bond between Epstein and Maxwell, the life of luxury they enjoyed while allegedly abusing girls from broken homes or whose families struggled financially, and the supposed code of silence they imposed on their employees.
Here were some of the trial’s biggest bombshells:
Victim “Jane” said Maxwell and Epstein abused her during group sex
The first victim to testify, “Jane” said that when Epstein and Maxwell began abusing her when she was only 14 in 1994, Maxwell “seemed very casual” and “like it was very normal” and “not a big deal.” The couple allegedly began to train her sexually and include her in group sexual encounters with other adult women. Jane shared the first names of several women who allegedly participated in group sexual encounters with her when she was underage: Eva, Sophie, Michelle, and a British woman named Emmy.
Jane claims Maxwell and Epstein recruited her when she was attending the prestigious Interlochen summer camp, where Epstein was a donor and had use of a “scholarship lodge” when he visited the Michigan school every year. Jane told jurors she had just lost her father to cancer and was living with her mother and siblings in a family friend’s pool house. According to Jane, Epstein paid for her voice lessons, private school in New York, and other bills her mother couldn’t afford. When she first visited the pool at Epstein’s Florida estate, she saw “at least four women and Ghislaine all topless, and some of them were naked.”
“Kate” said Maxwell forced her to wear a schoolgirl uniform
The 44-year-old British woman testified that Maxwell began grooming her when she was 17 in 1994. Kate met Maxwell during a trip to Paris with her boyfriend, who was an Oxford classmate of the socialite. Maxwell, who was in her thirties, invited Kate to tea at her London townhouse weeks later. “I was quite excited to be friends with her,” Kate testified, adding: “I felt that I had found a new connection that could be really meaningful to me.”
But that friendship turned dark, Kate testified, after Maxwell introduced her to Epstein and urged her to give him massages that quickly turned sexual. “She said that he needed massages all the time and it was very difficult to keep up,” Kate said. When she was 18, Maxwell and Epstein invited her to Palm Beach, where Maxwell allegedly directed her to wear a schoolgirl costume. According to Kate, Maxwell handed her a tray of tea and directed her to serve the money-manager, who then engaged in a sex act with her. “She asked me if I had fun, and told me that I was such a good girl, and that I was one of his favorites,” Kate said. (Because Kate was of the age of consent in the U.K. during this pattern of abuse, jurors were instructed that she’s not a victim as charged in the indictment.)
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Carolyn told Epstein and Maxwell she was too young to travel with them
The Florida woman told jurors that she was molested by Epstein from the age of 14 to 18—when she became “too old” for the sex predator, who eventually asked her if she had any “younger friends.” Carolyn testified that from 2001 to 2004, Maxwell would help schedule her “massage” sessions and greet her in the kitchen when she showed up. “She would just let me know that Mr. Epstein would be back, he was on a jog or he was—he’d be back any moment,” Carolyn said. “I could go upstairs and set up.”
Carolyn said she confided in Epstein and Maxwell about trauma in her past: Her grandfather raped her and had molested her starting when she was 4, and her mother was addicted to drugs and alcohol. She added that the couple knew her age, because when they invited her to visit Epstein’s U.S. Virgin Islands compound, she told Maxwell “that I was too young, and there is no way in hell my mom was going to let me leave the country.” Despite this, Carolyn claims, Maxwell continued booking the massage sessions and even groped her one day when she was setting up the massage table. “She came in and felt my boobs and my hips and my buttocks and said … that I had a great body for Mr. Epstein and his friends.”
Annie Farmer said she was forced to give Epstein a foot rub before Maxwell groped her
Now 42, Farmer recalled a nightmarish weekend alone with Epstein and Maxwell in New Mexico—a trip her mother believed would be an academic gathering for 20 to 25 students. She was a 16-year-old girl, the couple were in their thirties and forties, and they took her shopping and to a movie theater, where she said Epstein “right away began to hold my hand and caress it” and “rub on my foot and on my arm.”
When they returned to Epstein’s ranch, Maxwell taught Farmer how to give Epstein a foot massage. “He seemed, you know, to be enjoying it,” Farmer testified, adding that he made “groaning noises.” Asked how she felt about it, Farmer said, “I felt very uncomfortable. I did not want to be touching his feet.” Maxwell then asked Farmer if she’d had a professional massage before and offered to give her one. Farmer said they went to her guest room, where Maxwell set up a table and told her to get undressed. Farmer took off her clothes and laid face down under a sheet before Maxwell began rubbing her legs and making small talk. But, according to Farmer, Maxwell then directed her to turn over and pulled the sheet down before groping her chest. Farmer said she was “frozen” and wanted “badly to get off of the table and have this massage be done.” Farmer added that the door to the room was open and she sensed Epstein could see her.
Maxwell allegedly warned Epstein’s butler never to look him in the eyes
In some of the trial’s most explosive testimony, Epstein’s former Palm Beach butler Juan Alessi described how his responsibilities included cleaning up the financier’s massage rooms, rinsing off sex toys and restocking them in Maxwell’s bathroom closet, which also held pornographic tapes and a “black vinyl or leather black” costume. He also stocked Epstein’s vehicles with hundred-dollar bills. (Victims including Carolyn testified that Epstein paid her cash in that denomination.)
Alessi testified that he saw “many, many, many females” visit Epstein’s lair and often saw topless young women lounging by the pool. He said he knew two of Epstein’s young visitors were underage at the time.
He also detailed how Maxwell ordered him and other staff to follow a 58-page “Household Manual” with a seemingly endless checklist of tasks at Epstein’s Florida mansion, including ensuring a gun was placed in the bedside table of the “master bedroom.” The booklet contained directives such as “Remember that you see nothing, hear nothing, say nothing, except to answer a question directed at you.” Asked about this rule, Alessi testified, “It means a kind of warning that I was supposed to be blind, deaf and dumb, to say nothing of their lies.” The document’s orders also stated: “Unless otherwise instructed, NEVER disclose Mr. Epstein’s or Ms. Maxwell’s activities or whereabouts to anyone” and “Advise Ms. Maxwell of any strange telephone calls or enquiries.”
Alessi, who worked for Epstein from 1991 to 2002, said the manual involved an “incredible amount of work” and “was very degrading to me.” He said Maxwell once told him never to look Epstein in the eyes when addressing him. The ex-house manager said he typically worked from 5 a.m. to 9 or 10 p.m.—a job he later described as “slavery.”
When defense lawyer Jeff Pagliuca suggested none of the female masseuses complained about being hurt or coerced into doing anything, Alessi replied, “No, they never did, but I wish they would have … because I would have done something to stop it.”
Trump, Clinton and Mike Wallace were among Epstein’s famous pals
Former Epstein pilot Larry Visoski named several VIPs who flew on the financier’s private jet, including Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, Britain’s Prince Andrew, superstar violinist Itzhak Perlman, actors Kevin Spacey and Chris Tucker, former senator George Mitchell, and former senator and astronaut John Glenn. Asked if Robert Kennedy Jr. took a jaunt on Epstein’s plane, Visoski said he didn’t recall.
The defense took pains to introduce other high-profile names, asking witnesses throughout trial about Victoria’s Secret mogul Les Wexner, Manhattan billionaire couple Glenn and Eva Dubin—recently under fire over their decades-long friendship with Epstein—and Maxwell’s former flame, multimillionaire Gateway co-founder Ted Waitt.
Jane said Epstein and Maxwell often bragged about high-powered friends including Trump, Clinton, and the late TV reporter Mike Wallace. “They would sort of name-drop or sometimes put people on speakerphone whose voices I didn’t know and then say, ‘Oh, well, this was so-and-so,’” Jane told jurors, adding that the couple would “say that they were very well-connected and affluent.”
Jane added that during a visit to New York when she was 15, she sang “Happy Birthday” to Wallace at his 80th birthday party. Epstein also allegedly introduced her to Trump during a visit to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach.
Carolyn believed Maxwell was once pregnant
Throughout the trial, Maxwell’s legal team asked witnesses including Visoski and fellow pilot David Rodgers about whether they’d ever seen the socialite pregnant before. They said no. The queries were apparently an attempt to discredit Carolyn, who previously told the government of seeing a photo of an expectant Maxwell in Epstein’s Florida home. When Pagliuca asked Carolyn about the image, she replied, “Nude and pregnant laying on the—” before he cut her off. “There was multiple pictures, nude photos,” Carolyn later added.
Epstein’s assistants were Maxwell fan girls
Two defense witnesses—former Epstein employees Cimberly Espinosa and Michelle Healy—shared glowing memories of Maxwell. And while they both met the victim known as “Jane” in the 1990s, they testified that they believed she was an adult.
Espinosa said Epstein’s office initially hired her as a legal assistant but that Maxwell quickly recruited her to become her full-time executive assistant. “I highly respected Ghislaine,” Espinosa testified. “I looked up to her very much.” Espinosa added that she kept in touch with Maxwell even after leaving for another opportunity in 2002, and that Maxwell got her a job interview with Waitt and allowed her to stay at her London townhome three years ago during a vacation to Europe. (Espinosa, who hasn’t commented publicly about her ties to Epstein and Maxwell before, was accused in a victim’s lawsuit of arranging Epstein’s “massage” sessions with a teenage victim in New York.)
Healy, who was a receptionist for Epstein from 1996 to 1999, said that Jane “looked like a grown-up to me” because “she had a lot of makeup on.” Of Maxwell, Healy gushed that the socialite was a “fantastic” boss. “She taught me a lot,” Healy said. “I respected her. She was tough. But she was great.”
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Financial records revealed Maxwell received millions from Epstein
The government called Patrick McHugh, an executive at JPMorgan, to testify about million-dollar transfers from Epstein to Maxwell. In October 1999, Epstein sold $18.3 million worth of shares in a money market fund, then transferred the cash to one of Maxwell’s accounts. Bank records also showed Epstein wired $5 million to Maxwell in September 2002. In June 2007, according to McHugh’s testimony, Epstein wired $7.4 million to an account for Maxwell. That account then transferred $7.35 million to an account for Air Ghislaine Inc., which wired the funds to Sikorsky Aircraft in Connecticut to buy a helicopter.
Sarah Kellen, an alleged co-conspirator, was repeatedly named but never testified
When Epstein secured his controversial 2008 plea deal, the document granted immunity to potential co-conspirators including Sarah Kellen, Lesley Groff, Adriana Ross, and Nadia Marcinkova. From Day 1, however, Kellen’s name has haunted the trial. In her opening remarks, Sternheim noted that Carolyn twice sued Epstein and Kellen but her complaint didn’t mention Maxwell. Visoski indicated he spoke to Kellen, an assistant for Epstein, the most when it came to scheduling the financier’s flights. The defense also asked fellow pilot Rodgers whether Kellen took over as Epstein’s main assistant in 2001. And when the feds presented evidence of FedEx invoices, Kellen was listed as the sender of a package to underage Carolyn.
During a charging conference on Saturday, defense lawyer Christian Everdell referred to individuals “who we normally may have considered calling as a witness but who the government clearly could have charged, criminally, based on the testimony we heard.
“And I won’t name names if we don’t want to do that. But I think we probably know who we’re talking about here,” Everdell continued. He said that if “we tried to call that witness or those witnesses, they undoubtedly would have invoked their Fifth Amendment rights.”
“I’m happy to say the name,” Everdell said. “It’s Sarah Kellen.”
Maxwell announced she wouldn’t testify and again proclaimed her innocence
On Friday, before the defense rested its case, Nathan asked Maxwell whether she intended to testify: “I want to make sure that you know that the decision whether to testify or not is your decision. You are entitled to the best advice of your attorneys in making this decision, but the decision is yours. Ms. Maxwell, do you understand that?”
“Your Honor,” said Maxwell, who stood up with her lawyers, “the government has not proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt; and so there is no need for me to testify.”
Epstein’s Miss Sweden ex-girlfriend testified for Maxwell but couldn’t remember much
Eva Andersson-Dubin, a former Miss Sweden and doctor who dated Epstein in the 1980s and early ’90s, was the defense’s penultimate witness last Friday. The decision to call Dubin raised eyebrows, as she and her billionaire husband Glenn faced scrutiny over their ties to Epstein in the wake of his death. The Dubins stood by Epstein after he pleaded guilty to soliciting a minor in Florida and served time in a Palm Beach county jail. For decades, they welcomed Epstein around their children, who called him “Uncle F.”
Dubin testified that she didn’t recall meeting Jane or flying with her on Epstein’s plane. She also said she never saw troubling behavior from Epstein toward minor girls. But as the prosecution pointed out, Dubin lately has encountered memory problems because of a medical issue. “Sometimes I can’t remember things from last month,” Dubin told jurors. “My family notices it.”
Other Epstein victims showed up to watch the trial
Several accusers who aren’t victims in the government’s case, including Sarah Ransome, dropped in to watch from the federal court’s overflow rooms, where a video feed broadcasts the proceedings on computer screens.
Attorney Brad Edwards, who’s represented victims of the financier for more than a decade, showed up with Jennifer Kalin, a woman who’s never told her story about her 13 years of abuse while allegedly trapped in Epstein’s world. “Jen Kalin was enslaved in Epstein’s sex-trafficking organization for 13 years, was forced into a marriage, and is trying to put her life together. She realizes people are sticking their necks out and testifying and wants them to know they’re not alone,” Edwards told The Daily Beast.
“This is someone who was essentially held captive for years in the trafficking operation,” Edwards added.
Maxwell’s family showed up, but not her secret husband
For her part, Maxwell hasn’t been without support. Her siblings, Kevin and Isabel, were in the front row alongside her friend and attorney Leah Saffian. Kevin Maxwell addressed a flock of press outside the courthouse in the trial’s first week, saying, “Personally it gave me a tremendous sense of relief to be close to her, to actually be able to see her in the flesh, even to be able to speak with her.”
Kevin then referenced his family’s complaint filed with the United Nations last month over her conditions at Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center. “We respect the criminal justice system and process in this country and as a result we are not going to make any further comments whilst attending court,” Kevin said.
Maxwell’s supposed husband Scott Borgerson was nowhere to be seen. The Daily Mail reported he’s been spotted with a new love interest instead: a 49-year-old yoga instructor and local journalist in Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts.
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Government released never-before-seen photos of Epstein’s homes—and of Maxwell giving him a foot rub mid-flight
Dozens of government exhibits provided an inside look at Epstein’s mansions in Palm Beach and New York, with images of massage rooms, sex toys, artwork and framed photographs of young women throughout his office. Many photos depicted Epstein and Maxwell in happier days, hugging and kissing and even posing at the “lunch hut” at Queen Elizabeth’s Balmoral Castle. But some images were creepy, showing Maxwell giving Epstein’s bare feet a massage on his private jet, as their buddy and accused predator Jean-Luc Brunel looks on. During summations on Monday, prosecutor Alison Moe said one photo showed “Maxwell massaging Epstein’s foot with her breasts.” In another picture, apparently released to the jury but not the public, Maxwell and Epstein were nude in a swimming pool.
Maxwell’s lawyer blurted out victims’ real names in court
Gasps were heard in the courtroom’s overflow rooms when defense attorney Jeff Pagliuca, while cross-examining Alessi, said Jane’s real first name in court. The government immediately called for a sidebar, during which, according to court transcripts, Pagliuca said his supposed blunder was “completely unintentional.”
Prosecutor Maureen Comey then said, “Your Honor, given that Mr. Pagliuca represented that he had prepared to cross-examine this witness on this testimony, I think we need to have a plan going forward for how to make sure this does not happen again because, clearly, Mr. Pagliuca had not prepared enough.”
“The witness herself did the same thing. It happens,” Judge Nathan answered. “My perception was that it was an accident.”
Pagliuca then vowed, “It won’t happen again.”
But later on in the trial, Pagliuca said the last name of the victim Carolyn, perhaps twice. A Daily Beast reporter heard him say her surname after lunch on Dec. 7, while a reporter for Inner City Press documented another blurt of the victim’s name hours earlier.
Maxwell allegedly wrote a third-person essay about her relationship with Epstein
After the feds seized hard drives found in Epstein’s Manhattan home, they discovered a trove of Word documents created by a user named “gmax.” One file created in October 2002 was a third person essay about Epstein and Maxwell’s romance.
During closing arguments, Moe quoted from the narrative, which read: “Jeffrey and Ghislaine have been together, a couple, for the last 11 years. They are, contrary to what many people think, rarely apart—I almost always see them together…” The document concluded: “Jeffrey and Ghislaine compliment each other really well and I cannot imagine one without the other. On top of being great partners they are also the best of friends.”
“A couple for eleven years. Great partners. Rarely apart. Best of friends. Does that sound like a personal assistant compartmentalized from Jeffrey Epstein’s life?” Moe told jurors, adding: “When you’re with someone for 11 years, you know what they like. Epstein liked underage girls. He liked to touch underage girls. Maxwell knew it.”
Defense lawyer Laura Menninger, however, argued that other people had access to Maxwell’s computer. “What on earth makes the government think that Ghislaine Maxwell was writing an essay about herself in the third person with Jeffrey Epstein?” she said.
The FBI, Menninger added, wants “to just say, ‘This is Ghislaine Maxwell’s document because it’s got her name in the metadata. Please.”
Epstein lavished gifts on his former pilot, whose daughters rode horses with Maxwell
Visoski testified that Epstein gave him 40 acres of land from his 10,000-acre New Mexico ranch property so he could build a house. “And he didn’t charge you for that land?” Everdell asked, to which Visoski replied, “No, he did not.” Visoski also said he has two daughters, whose private high school and college tuition were funded by Epstein.
“So fair to say that Epstein took an interest in seeing your young daughter succeed, isn’t that right?” Everdell continued. Visoski answered, “That’s correct. He believed in higher education,” and later confirmed he didn’t believe Epstein, nor Maxwell, had any ulterior motives with regard to his children. Visoski said his teen and preteen daughters spent time with Maxwell on Epstein’s New Mexico property and they went horseback riding together.
Visoski claimed he would have quit his job, which he held from 1991 to 2019, had he known Epstein preyed on underage girls. Asked about Jane, Visoski testified that he never thought she was underage. He said when he met her, she was “just a mature woman with some piercing powder blue eyes.”
Read more at The Daily Beast.
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