1st out of 4 prosecutors take a stand on the Ghislaine Maxwell trial – The Denver Post

By LARRY NEUMEISTER and TOM HAYS

NEW YORK (AP) – A woman testified Tuesday that British socialist Ghislaine Maxwell was often in the room when the witness, who was only 14 at the time, had sexual interactions with financier Jeffrey Epstein.

Maxwell “was very relaxed,” she told a New York City jury. “As if it was no big deal.”

She claimed that the defendant instructed her in how to give Epstein sexual massage and sometimes also physically attended the meetings.

The witness, who used the pseudonym “Jane”, was the first of four alleged victims expected to testify against Maxwell at a trial in New York City, where she is accused of recruiting and caring for Epstein’s girls for sexual abuse from 1994 to at least 2004.

The witness first met Epstein in 1994 when she was attending a music camp in pursuit of a singing career, she said. He came to her and introduced himself as a donor. They discovered they both lived in Palm Beach, Florida, she said.

The woman and her mother soon received invitations to Epstein’s home, she said. He and Maxwell wanted to take her shopping for clothes, including underwear from Victoria’s Secret, she said.

The cycle of abuse started when Epstein one day suddenly took her by the hand and said, “Follow me,” before taking her to a pool house in the home. Then he pulled his pants down, pulled her tight and “continued to masturbate,” she said.

“I was frozen in fear,” she said. “I had never seen a penis before.… I was horrified and felt ugly and ashamed.”

Another time, she was taken to a massage room where he and Maxwell both exploited her, she said.

“There were hands everywhere and Jeffrey kept masturbating again,” she said.

Other encounters involved sex toys or turned into oral sex “orgies” with other young women and Maxwell, she added.

At cross-examination, defense attorney Laura Menninger sought to grill the witness as to why she waited 20 years to report Maxwell’s alleged abuse. Opinions also asked if it was true that she had previously talked to her siblings and others close to her about Epstein’s behavior, but omitted Maxwell from the previous accounts.

“You never mentioned Ghislaine Maxwell?” asked the lawyer.

“I do not know,” the witness replied, adding that she only remembered that she was uncomfortable going into every detail.

The cross-examination was expected to continue on Wednesday.

Maxwell has pleaded not guilty. One of her lawyers said in an opening statement Monday that she is being made the scapegoat for Epstein, who killed himself in his prison cell in Manhattan at the age of 66 in 2019 while awaiting a lawsuit on sex trafficking.

Earlier Tuesday, a former Epstein pilot testified that he never saw evidence of sexual activity on planes as he flew his boss and others – including a prince and former presidents – for nearly three decades.

Lawrence Paul Visoski Jr., the trial’s first witness, answered questions from a defense attorney when he admitted he had never encountered sexual activity aboard two jets, which he flew for about 1,000 trips between 1991 and 2019.

He said he stayed in the cockpit most flights, but sometimes he showed up to go to the bathroom or get coffee.

Although he was called as a witness by the government, Visoski’s testimony seemed to help Maxwell’s defense when he answered questions asked by Maxwell’s lawyer Christian Everdell about what he saw when he corrected the plane after a flight.

Visoski did not hesitate when Everdell asked him if he ever saw sexual activity when he went for coffee or found sex toys when cleaning up.

“Never,” the pilot answered both questions. He said he also never used condoms.

And when asked if he ever saw sexual acts with underage women, he replied, “Absolutely not.”

The pilot said Epstein never warned him to stay in the cockpit during flights and also encouraged him to use a bathroom close to the back of the plane, which would require him to walk past the plane’s sofas.

He said he never saw any children on his plane who were not accompanied by their parents.

When Everdell asked him about a teenager who prosecutors say was sexually abused by Epstein before she grew up, Visoski said he thought she was “mature” when he was introduced to her.

He also acknowledged that Clinton was a passenger on a few flights in the 2000s, and he had piloted flights with Britain’s Prince Andrew, the late US Senator John Glenn of Ohio – the first American to orbit the Earth – and former President Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, “more than once.”

Epstein’s plane was scornfully nicknamed “The Lolita Express” by some in the media after allegations surfaced that he had used it to fly teenage girls to his private island, his ranch in New Mexico and his townhouse in New York City.

Maxwell, 59, traveled for decades in circles that put her in touch with talented and wealthy people before her arrest in July 2020.

Asked by Assistant U.S. Attorney Maurene Comey, where Maxwell stood in the hierarchy of Epstein’s world, Visoski said Maxwell “was number 2.” He added that “Epstein was the big number 1.”

This testimony supported what Assistant U.S. Attorney Lara Pomerantz told jurors in her inaugural statement Monday: Epstein and Maxwell were “partners in crime.”

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