The second week of Ghislaine Maxwell’s trial continues with testimony by another accuser who is also testifying under a pseudonym. “Kate” told a federal jury on Monday that the accused sex trafficker groomed her for Jeffrey Epstein’s predation when she was 17 years old.
Since that is over the age of consent in the relevant jurisdictions, U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan instructed the jury that she is not one of Maxwell’s alleged victims.
“I instruct you that this witness is not a victim of the crimes charged of the indictment,” Judge Nathan told the jury.
Prosecutors can use “Kate’s” testimony, however, to bolster allegations by Maxwell’s other three accusers. One of the three, “Jane,” already has testified. Only one, Annie Farmer, is expected to testify under her real name.
“I Felt Special”
A 44-year-old former actress and model from the United Kingdom, “Kate” told the jury that she now works with women who live with trauma and substance abuse disorder. She said that she first met Maxwell in Paris, where she was introduced by a boyfriend. She testified about being invited to Maxwell’s for house for tea.
“I had a really lovely time, and I felt special, and I felt—,” Kate said, exhaling deeply before adding she felt “—that I found a new connection that could be very meaningful for me.”
“Kate” said that the meeting left her feeling “exhilarated” — like someone wanted to be her friend.
“She seemed very exciting,” the witness said of Maxwell. “She seemed to be everything I wanted to be.”
Maxwell allegedly introduced “Kate” to Epstein, and “Kate” quoted Maxwell telling her that “he was a philanthropist and that he liked to help young people.”
“She said that I was exactly the kind of person that [Epstein] would help,” “Kate” testified, referring to Maxwell.
“Kate” said that Maxwell introduced her to Epstein as “”the girl that I told you about” and remarked that “I was strangely strong for my size.”
Asked by the prosecutor what that size was, “Kate” responded that she was about 95 lbs.
“She said, ‘Why don’t you give his feet a little squeeze to show him how strong you are?'” the witness testified.
“Kate” said that she did and that Epstein reacted approvingly. Maxwell later told her that Epstein’s massage therapist canceled and asked if she could fill in, according to her testimony.
“Were you a massage therapist at the time?” Assistant U.S. Attorney Lara Elizabeth Pomerantz said.
“No,” the witness replied.
“Cute, Young, Pretty—Like You”
In keeping with other Epstein accusers, “Kate” said that what began as her massaging Epstein escalated into sexual contact. The prosecutor did not elicit the details of the contact because she was over the age of consent, but the testimony paralleled some of the accounts of Maxwell’s other accusers, particularly testimony about conduct broadly described by certain psychologists as “grooming” behaviors. This refers to an alleged process of normalizing sexual encounters with those under the age of 18 years old.
Prosecutors say this process could include gift-giving, and “Kate” spoke of one such present.
On her 18th birthday, “Kate” testified: “I received a small, black Prada handbag.”
Other such massages followed, which included sexual contact, “Kate” testified. She testified that Maxwell told her “Did you have fun?” and “You’re such a good girl.”
“She sounded really pleased, and I was pleased that she was pleased,” the witness said.
“Kate” said that Maxwell asked if there was anyone who could give Epstein a blow job because it was a “lot for her to do.”
“You know what [Epstein] likes,” Maxwell allegedly told her, according to the testimony. “Cute, young, pretty—like you.”
Recalling a visit to Palm Beach, Fla., “Kate” testified that she was made to wear a schoolgirl outfit.
“I didn’t know how to say no to that,” she said. “I didn’t know anybody in Florida. I had never been to Palm Beach or Florida before. I wasn’t sure if I said no if I would have to leave or what consequence there would be for not doing it.”
“Significant Events of My Life”
“Kate” said she was somewhat older when she visited Epstein’s private island, which she says he called “Little St. Jeff.”
At that island, she said: “I remember seeing a blonde slim girl, who seemed far younger than me at the time, very young.”
During opening statements, Maxwell’s lawyer Bobbi Sternheim tried to discredit all four of the accusers, and she previewed her summary of “Kate’s” story.
“Now, Kate has admitted that she’s ambitious,” Sternheim said during opening statements. “She led a jet-setter lifestyle. Before meeting Ghislaine and Epstein, she was in a relationship with a man twice her age, a former Oxford classmate of Ghislaine, a friend of Ghislaine, a prominent older British gentleman.”
“Kate” concedes that she abused cocaine, alcohol and sleeping pills, a fact the defense intends to use to attack her memories. Sternheim’s alliterative opening statement asked jurors to consider the case through the prism of “memory, money and manipulation.”
In response to a question from the prosecutor, “Kate” denied that drug use had fogged her memories—as the defense insists.
“The memories that I have of significant events of my life have never changed,” she said.
She added she may initially have “missed” certain memories that she later recalls.
Maxwell’s lawyers also have tried to undermine the witnesses by describing them as recipients of settlement money from a fund meant to compensate Epstein victims. “Kate” said that she entered into a $3.25 million settlement, a portion of which went to her counsel.
During cross-examination, Sternheim noted that “Kate” hadn’t always spoken anonymously. She went public during court proceedings for Epstein and a subsequent TV appearance with other his alleged victims. The defense introduced emails showing that “Kate” corresponded with Epstein, even when he was incarcerated. One of the emails was signed: “Best, love always,” the witness agreed.
“Kate” acknowledged that her contact with Epstein continued into her 30s, ending with the birth of her child. The prosecutor’s redirect will take place after the lunch recess.
(Photographs via the Department of Justice)
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