Woman testifies Ghislaine Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein started sexually abusing her when she was 14
Lauren del Valle and Steve Almasy, CNN
(CNN) — A woman who testified Tuesday in the sex trafficking trial of Ghislaine Maxwell said she met the close confidante of Jeffrey Epstein and the billionaire businessman when she was 14 and eating ice cream with friends at a camp where he was a benefactor.
The woman, identified in court by the pseudonym “Jane,” said after that 1994 introduction she and her mother met Epstein for tea in Florida when he said he could mentor her. She then started going to Epstein’s home by herself.
At first, Maxwell and Epstein made her feel special — spending time with her, asking about her family and interests and taking her to do fun things, she said.
For the first few months of knowing them, Maxwell felt like an older sister, she said.
“It changed when the abuse started happening,” she said.
“Jane” described in graphic detail incidents of sexual abuse with Epstein that Maxwell would at times join in on, both in Palm Beach, Florida, and Manhattan when she was 14, 15 and 16 years old.
Maxwell was first charged in July 2020 with enticement and conspiracy to entice minors to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, transportation and conspiracy to transport minors with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity for allegedly grooming and recruiting underage girls from 1994 through 1997.
Prosecutors later added two sex-trafficking charges, alleging Maxwell interacted with a 14-year-old girl on multiple occasions in Palm Beach, Florida, and encouraged and enticed her to recruit other girls to perform “sexualized massages” on Epstein despite knowing she was under 18.
Speaking at times with a quivering voice and wiping her eyes and nose with a tissue, “Jane” testified that Epstein and Maxwell gradually normalized sexuality for the then 14-year-old girl.
At times, Epstein would masturbate on her and molest her, she said. Maxwell would sometimes be involved, touching her and Epstein, she testified.
At least once, Maxwell “instructed” her how Epstein liked to be massaged while the three were in Epstein’s “massage room,” she testified.
“It seemed very casual, like it was very normal, like it was not big deal,” she said. “It made me feel confused because that did not feel normal to me.”
“Jane” is known as Minor Victim-1 in a federal indictment detailing the allegations against Maxwell.
Epstein died by suicide in August 2019 while awaiting trial. Maxwell’s counsel maintains she was charged only because he died.
The pair is reported to have split in the 1990s, although the socialite remained close to him.
Testimony began Monday with pilot on stand
Maxwell’s trial began Monday with testimony from a pilot who flew Epstein’s plane. He said he remembered meeting “Jane,” but could not be sure she actually flew on the private jet.
In he final half-hour of Tuesday’s court session, defense attorney Laura Menninger started cross-examination of “Jane” by asking her why she waited two decades to report her allegations to law enforcement.
Menninger also asked her about the $5 million she received through the Epstein Victim Compensation Program.
“Jane” acknowledged she dropped a 2020 lawsuit against Maxwell per the program agreement in order to receive the financial payment.
Cross-examination is expected to continue Wednesday.
On Tuesday, “Jane” said she first confided in a boyfriend of her abuse around 2007 when Epstein was arrested in Florida. Eventually she told several people including her siblings about her experience, she testified.
“Because how do you tell or describe any of this to any one of your peers or your siblings when all you feel is shame and disgust and confusion and you don’t even know how you ended up there?”
“Jane” testified she felt she couldn’t tell anyone about the abuse when she was a child in part because her mother discouraged her from speaking her mind.
“My mom was so enamored with the idea that these wealthy, affluent people took an interest in me,” she said.
“Jane” said she continued to give Epstein sexualized massages at least through her schooling in New York when she was 18.
She would tell people Epstein was her “godfather” and dropped everything to answer his calls when he would reach out, she said.
Epstein started giving “Jane” cash soon after the abuse started in 1994, and later paid for voice lessons, school, clothes and housing for her family, she said.
She said she couldn’t pinpoint how many times Maxwell partook in the abuse because it all runs together in her memory.
“It all started to seem the same after a while and you just become numb to it,” she said.
The woman cut off contact with Epstein around 2002. Her mother was still living in a New York apartment he paid for at the time, she said.
Federal prosecutors are expected to call “Jane’s” previous boyfriend to testify after about what she shared with him about her alleged abuse, but the judge has said she will rule on that Wednesday morning.