The debut witness at Ghislaine Maxwell’s long-awaited sex trafficking trial, Jeffrey Epstein’s former pilot testified on Monday that he flew his former boss around to his various properties about “every four days.”
Flight records from Epstein’s travels around the globe and in between his properties sparked international controversy and the reputation of “Lolita Express.” Members of the international elite who reportedly have taken rides on Epstein’s aircraft included former President Bill Clinton, former President Donald Trump, the U.K.’s Prince Andrew, billionaire Bill Gates, actor Kevin Spacey, and model Naomi Campbell.
One protester lampooned the airplane outside of the Thurgood Marshall Courthouse on the same day its former pilot, Lawrence Paul Visoski Jr., took the witness stand, but he invoked none of those famous figures during Day One of his testimony.
Visoski told jurors that he couldn’t always tell who boarded the jet.
Referring to those approaching the plane by car, Visoski said: “I could see the driver and perhaps maybe the passenger; 99 percent of cars in Florida have tinted windows, so I probably couldn’t see the passengers as well, but depending upon how the car approached the aircraft, if I’m sitting in the cockpit looking down, I would be able to see the driver of the car.”
Questioned by Assistant U.S. Attorney Maurene Comey, Visoski quickly identified Maxwell inside the courtroom, and he described her relationship to Epstein as “more personal than business.”
“About how long did that romantic relationship last?” asked Comey, who is the daughter of ex-FBI director James Comey.
Estimating the relationship lasted into the 2000s, Visoski hedged: “I wouldn’t even characterize it as romantic, but more couplish than
“I don’t think I ever witnessed them kiss or hold hands kind of thing,” he added.
Hired by Epstein in Ohio in 1991, Visoski described flying his ex-boss around his various properties, including his New York City mansion; Santa Fe, N.M. ranch; Palm Beach, Fla. home; and homes on St. Thomas and Little Saint James in the U.S. Virgin Islands. He described the New York property in detail for the jury, as the prosecutor displayed photographs of it on the screen.
In describing the 9 East 71st Street brownstone in Manhattan, Visoski told jurors about a “security room in there which housed all the TV monitors that monitored all the outside activity of the house.”
A little less than a year after Epstein was found dead in his prison cell, Maxwell became the first accused co-conspirator of his to be charged by prosecutors. If convicted on all six charges against her—broadly alleged violations of the Mann Act and sex trafficking—she can face up to 70 years in prison. The indictment accuses her of victimizing four girls between the ages of 14 and 17, between the years of 1995 and 2004. During opening statements, Comey’s fellow prosecutor Lara Elizabeth Pomerantz told jurors that Maxwell and Epstein devised a “Pyramid scheme of abuse.”
Visoski’s direct examination continues on Tuesday morning.
(Photo by David Dee Delgado/Getty Images)
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