A woman who said Ghislaine Maxwell set her up for sexual abuse by Jeffrey Epstein from the age of 14 has told a court she does not believe she has “come up with a memory”.
Known by the pseudonym Jane, she was giving evidence for the second day in Maxwell’s sex trafficking trial in New York.
She is the first of four women due to testify that the British socialite “groomed” them for sexual abuse by Epstein when they were teenagers.
Jane had previously said she had sexual encounters with Epstein at his Palm Beach home once every fortnight when she was 14, 15 and 16.
Key points of the trial so far:
- Jurors are told Maxwell and Epstein were “partners in crime” and “she served up young girls” for him to abuse
- Prince Andrew named among high-profile men to travel on Epstein’s private jet
- Charges involve four alleged underage victims and multiple locations between 1994 and 2004
- First accuser in trial of Ghislaine Maxwell says she had repeated sexual contact with Epstein when she was 14 years old and that Maxwell was there when it happened
- Defence claims Maxwell has been used as a “scapegoat” for Epstein’s crimes and question alleged victim over discrepancies in her accounts of the abuse
Other people occasionally participated, including Maxwell, who touched her breasts, Jane told jurors.
She told the court on Tuesday she had been summoned to an orgy by Maxwell and Epstein at the age of 14, which had left her “frozen with fear”.
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- Ghislaine Maxwell
- Jeffrey Epstein
During cross-examination on Wednesday, defence counsel Laura Menninger questioned Jane about apparent discrepancies between her descriptions in court of Maxwell’s role and earlier conversations with prosecutors before Maxwell’s July 2020 arrest.
“It is true that you do not recall Ghislaine ever touching you,” Ms Menninger asked.
“That’s not true,” Jane replied.
‘I don’t recall’
On Tuesday, Jane had said she did not tell anybody about any abuse because she was “terrified” and “felt gross and ashamed”.
Ms Menninger said: “You spoke to the government in December 2019 with your lawyers there and you told them at that time that you were not sure whether Maxwell ever touched you during these encounters.”
“I don’t recall,” Jane replied.
“You told the government you were not sure if Ghislaine ever kissed you.”
“I don’t recall.”
“You told the government you had no memory of Ghislaine being present when you claim Epstein engaged in any sexual contact, correct?”
“I don’t recall.”
“As you sit here today, you are not sure you were ever alone in a room with Ghislaine and Epstein, correct?”
Asked if she had come up with a memory of Maxwell’s involvement in the sexual encounters, Jane said: “I don’t believe I have come up with a memory, no.”
Eyewitness: By Joe Pike, in New York
Ghislaine Maxwell is sitting in court taking notes as her defence attempt to chip away at the credibility of ‘Jane’, the first alleged victim in this trial.
The witness repeatedly replied: “I don’t recall” as Ms Maxwell’s lawyers asked about apparent inconsistencies between her evidence to the FBI in 2019 and 2020, and her testimony in court yesterday.
Jane’ also suggested there were errors in official government records of her interviews.”The wording that is typed up on this is incorrect,” she said.
“Another typo by the government?” Ms Maxwell’s lawyer responded.
The defence team is arguing that ‘Jane’ told the trial she first met Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell together, yet told the FBI she met Epstein first and Maxwell walked past them with her dog.
They say she claimed in court it was Maxwell who phoned her up to arrange meetings, but told the FBI it was Mr Epstein or his office staff who called.
And they have also questioned ‘Jane’ about why she told court Maxwell was in the room during sexual abuse by Epstein, but said to the FBI she couldn’t remember if the defendant was present.
Ghislaine Maxwell’s older brother Kevin is watching proceedings in court for the first time. He has experience of trials after being acquitted of fraud in the UK in 1996 after the death of his father, Robert.
Before day three of the trial, Maxwell entered the courtroom and nodded at her sister, Isabel, and brother, Kevin, sitting in the front row of the public gallery.
She is charged with eight counts of sex trafficking and other crimes that will be tried separately, including two perjury charges, all of which she denies.
The 59-year-old daughter of late British media magnate Robert Maxwell faces up to 80 years in prison if convicted.
Victims’ memories ‘manipulated over time’
Maxwell has pleaded not guilty and her lawyers have said prosecutors are making her a scapegoat for Epstein’s alleged crimes because he is dead.
The financier killed himself, aged 66, in 2019 in a Manhattan jail cell while awaiting trial on sexual abuse charges.
Maxwell’s lawyers have argued the four alleged victims’ memories have been manipulated over time.
They say the accusers never mentioned Maxwell’s role in their abuse until after Epstein died and that a compensation fund was set up for his victims, giving the women a financial incentive to cooperate with prosecutors.
Maxwell’s trial could answer key questions on Epstein – but is unlikely to solve all the mysteries
Jane, now in her early 40s, said she now remembered certain events that she did not previously recall.
She told the court on Tuesday that Maxwell sometimes called her house while she was a teenager to invite her to visit Epstein.
Ms Menninger noted that in a 2019 interview with the government, Jane said she could not remember whether Maxwell ever called her, referring to a sealed transcript of the conversation.
“So two years later, now you remember that Ghislaine would call your home?” Ms Menninger asked on Wednesday.
“Memory is not linear,” Jane replied.