‘Frozen in fear’: How Ghislaine Maxwell lured girls to be abused
Four women gave evidence against Ghislaine Maxwell during her trial in New York.
The court was told how the British socialite “preyed on vulnerable young girls, manipulated them, and served them up to be sexually abused” by the late disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein.
The 60-year-old faced six charges of enticing minors and sex trafficking – which spanned a period from 1994 to 2004. After being found guilty, she now faces a lengthy jail sentence.
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Maxwell had denied the charges and suggested she had been used as a scapegoat for crimes committed by Epstein, who killed himself in 2019 while in jail awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges himself.
Warning: This report contains graphic descriptions of sexual abuse of young girls
The victims – and how they were groomed by Maxwell
A grooming expert said it was “very common” for victims of child sexual abuse to wait a long time before telling others.
One victim reported her abuse to police 20 years after she says she managed to escape Epstein.
Here are the stories of the women who gave evidence against Maxwell.
The first accuser
Using the pseudonym “Jane” to protect her 22-year acting career,the first accuser in the trial said she was first abused by Epstein when she was just 14, and portrayed Maxwell as an active participant.
Jane first met Epstein and Maxwell in 1994 while she was attending a music camp in pursuit of a singing career.
She said she was eating ice cream with friends when Maxwell approached with a Yorkshire terrier. Epstein arrived a short time later.
Jane said the abuse began later that year, when Epstein took her to a pool house at his home in Palm Beach, Florida.
He pulled down his pants, pulled her close and “proceeded to masturbate”, she told jurors. “I was frozen in fear. I was terrified and felt gross and I felt ashamed.”
Jane also told the court that she was taken to a massage room, where Maxwell and Epstein both took advantage of her.
She added that Maxwell gave instructions on the sexual massages and sometimes physically participated.
Testifying under the pseudonym “Kate”, the second victim to give evidence explained how she was groomed by Maxwell – and was told she was one of Epstein’s “favourites”.
The woman, now aged 44, was 17 when she moved to Britain from France – and met Maxwell for tea at her London townhouse in 1994.
She explained how she returned to the townhouse weeks later while Epstein was there, and massaged his feet at Maxwell’s request.
A couple of weeks later, Maxwell asked her to return to the house and give Epstein a massage.
She said Maxwell led her to a massage room and Epstein was there, wearing a bathrobe. When he took it off he was naked, she said.
The witness said Maxwell gave her some massage oil and closed the door – and then Epstein had a sexual encounter with her.
Carolyn, the third victim to take the stand, testified under her first name to protect her privacy – and said she gave Epstein sexual massages when she was 14.
She said Maxwell would sometimes call her to schedule appointments with Epstein, for which she would be paid $300 to $400 (about £227 to £303) each.
Carolyn said she returned to Epstein’s Palm Beach home more than 100 times over the next four years, often giving him a massage two to three times a week.
The woman recalled how Epstein would touch her breasts and buttocks and said the encounters would end with him masturbating.
A former boyfriend of Carolyn, Shawn, corroborated her evidence and said he drove her and two other girls to Epstein’s Florida estate multiple times in the early 2000s.
He recalled receiving a call from one of three women who worked for Epstein – saying one of them had a “proper English” accent.
Annie Farmer was the only one of the four accusers who gave evidence under her full name. She testified that Maxwell and Epstein forced themselves on her when she was 16.
Ms Farmer spoke about a visit to Epstein’s ranch in New Mexico in 1996, when Maxwell rubbed her breasts and Epstein climbed into bed with her.
Now aged 42, she explained how before even meeting Epstein, he bought her a plane ticket to visit her sister, who was one of his employees at the time, in New York in 1995.
She recalled meeting him on the trip and sitting next to him in a cinema, where he reached for her hand and started “caressing” it before “rubbing” the bottom of her shoe, foot, and leg. “I felt sick to my stomach,” she said.
Epstein paid for the flight for Ms Farmer to go to his New Mexico ranch in 1996, she said.
She remembered “being in bed in the morning and suddenly Epstein opened my door in this playful way and said he wanted to cuddle, and climbed into bed with me and reached his arms around me and pressed his body into me”.
Ms Farmer said she made an excuse to go to the bathroom, adding: “I wanted to be in there long enough that hopefully, this whole situation would be over.”
After a conversation about massages, Ms Farmer recalled how Maxwell told her to “get undressed” and “started rubbing my body and rubbing my back and my legs”, and then “she had me roll over so I was lying on my back”.
Ms Farmer said she felt “frozen” and “surprised”, adding: “I wanted so badly to get off the table and have this massage be done.”
How did the prosecution describe Maxwell?
A former girlfriend of Epstein, Maxwell’s relationship with the convicted paedophile was described as “dangerous” and the court heard she was at the heart of his lavish lifestyle.
The prosecution said Maxwell, the daughter of former media mogul Robert Maxwell, “preyed on vulnerable young girls, manipulated them, and served them up to be sexually abused”.
Federal prosecutor Lara Pomerantz told jurors that Maxwell and Epstein were “partners in crime”, describing them as “dangerous predators who sexually exploited and abused” children for a decade.
She said the pair enticed girls as young as 14 to engage in “so-called massages”, in which sex abuse came to be seen as “casual and normal” after vulnerable victims were showered with money and gifts.
How did Maxwell develop her relationship with Epstein?
Epstein’s former housekeeper Juan Alessi told the court that Maxwell first appeared on the scene as Epstein’s girlfriend in 1991, introducing herself as the “lady of the house”.
She changed the dynamic of the house from “cordial” to “just professional”, he said.
Epstein and Maxwell were together “95% of the time” and shared a bedroom, the court was told.
Mr Alessi explained how he was instructed by Maxwell not to make eye contact with Epstein – and was even given a 58-page document of “degrading” rules.
In a 24-page indictment published earlier this year, the US government claimed Maxwell was in an “intimate relationship” with Epstein between 1994 and 1997, and that for a longer period (1994-2004) he paid her to manage his properties.
Lavish lifestyle and ‘Queen’s cabin’
Pictures of Epstein’s homes in the US Virgin Islands and New Mexico, and inside one of his jets and his helicopter were shown in court.
His plane was shown with a full kitchen and an area with a doughnut-shaped sofa.
And one image was taken at what appears to be the Queen’s log cabin on the Balmoral Estate.
Epstein’s plane was nicknamed “The Lolita Express” after allegations emerged that he had used it to fly teenage girls to his private island, his New Mexico ranch and his New York City townhouse.
Throughout his testimony, one of Epstein’s long-time pilots, Larry Visoski, recalled a number of famous people travelling on Epstein’s planes, including Prince Andrew, former US president Donald Trump, and actor Kevin Spacey.
However, he refuted any claims that he ever saw any sexual activity on flights.