Attorneys for Ghislaine Maxwell fire back at key accuser on Day 3 of trial
Defense attorneys for Ghislaine Maxwell, the longtime associate of serial sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, who is facing multiple charges of child sex trafficking, fired back at one of her key accusers during the third day of her trial Wednesday.
A woman prosecutors have identified only by the pseudonym "Jane" returned to the stand, having testified Tuesday that Maxwell was in the room during sexual encounters with Epstein when Jane was just 14 years old.
"Jane" also alleged that Maxwell contributed to her sexual abuse by "leading [her] to a massage table and showing [her] how Jeffrey likes to be massaged" and later traveling with her to Epstein's residences in New York and New Mexico, where she claims to have suffered further sexual abuse by Epstein, including some group encounters she described as "orgies."
During cross-examination, however, Maxwell's attorney, Laura Menninger, repeatedly challenged "Jane" and her account by contrasting her trial testimony with government reports of her interviews with federal agents and prosecutors between September 2019 and February 2020 during the criminal investigation of Maxwell. Portions of those reports were shown to Jane on a screen in the witness box, but the full reports are not available to the public and have not been admitted as evidence. The reports were made available to Maxwell's attorneys during pretrial discovery.MORE: Ghislaine Maxwell accuser 'Jane' testifies on Day 2 of trial
On Tuesday, "Jane" delivered an account of her first sexual encounter involving Epstein and Maxwell, in which they got undressed and encouraged Jane to disrobe and, she alleged, "there were hands everywhere."
"When you spoke to the government you told them you do not have a specific memory of the first time with Ghislaine," Menninger said, referring to a December 2019 document shown to "Jane."
"You have come up with that memory in the last two years?" Menninger asked.
"I don't believe I've come up with a memory," "Jane" replied.
Menninger then cited a record of a February 2020 interview with "Jane" in which Menninger said Jane told the government that "the first time you were involved with Ghislaine there were two other girls there, too."
"I don't recall," "Jane" said, before suggesting, "The wording that was typed up here is incorrect."
"So another typo by the government?" Menninger asked.
"Correct," Jane replied.
There was a similar exchange regarding Jane's allegation that she had been flown to New Mexico with Epstein and Maxwell, where she said she was sexually abused by Epstein alone at his ranch.MORE: Jeffrey Epstein associate Ghislaine Maxwell trial begins: Key takeaways from Day 1
Menninger pointed out to "Jane" three instances where government investigators asked her if she recalled any specific incidents of abuse during that trip to New Mexico, and she responded that she was "not sure."
"You testified about a specific incident in New Mexico," Menninger said. "Today you remember it. In 2020, you did not."
"I don't recall saying any of what's written here," Jane replied.
"Jane" questioned the veracity of the government reports several times, noting that she had not written the documents, had not seen the reports before Wednesday and noted that her interviews hadn't been recorded. She called some of the information in the reports "out of sequence" or "incorrect."
"This was just someone jotting down notes," she said.
As Menninger neared the end of a lengthy cross-examination, she raised Jane's professional history as a television actress for more than 20 years. Menninger noted that Jane had played roles as a protective mother, the victim of a car crash, a cancer survivor, had been stalked by a serial killer and portrayed a prostitute, which Jane described as "not my favorite storyline."
"Are you able to cry on command?" Menninger asked.
"Not always," Jane replied. "That's not how it works."
Assistant U.S. Attorney Alison Moe later asked Jane if she understood the difference between acting on TV and testifying in court.
"Yes," Jane replied. "Acting on TV isn't real. Testifying is."
"Are you acting here?" Moe asked.
"No," Jane replied.
Asked by Moe why she had come forward to testify after spending years trying to avoid talking about her alleged abuse, Jane said she was "happy to find closure. And this is something I have been running from my entire life."
Jane noted during the redirect examination by Moe that she met with different prosecutors and federal agents at different times and each session was typically focused on different things. "Jane" said it got easier to talk to the government in the later meetings, but that the first one was "difficult" for her, because she was in a room full of strangers talking about "some of the most shameful secrets I carried around with me my whole life."
Jane also testified about why the first alleged sexual encounter she described, allegedly when Jane was 14 years old, with Maxwell and Epstein was significant to her.
"Because ... that's when the fun casual relationship with [Maxwell] just changed," Jane said.MORE: Ghislaine Maxwell goes on trial: What to know about Jeffrey Epstein's ex-girlfriend
During approximately seven hours of testimony over two days, Jane rarely displayed emotion, despite the sometimes graphic nature of her testimony about her alleged childhood sex abuse. But as her testimony came to a close late Wednesday afternoon, Jane broke down in tears after being asked about the $5 million settlement she received last year from a compensation fund for Epstein's victims.
"Would you give that money back if it meant that you weren't abused as a kid?" Moe asked.
After Jane regained her composure, Moe then asked her to say in her own words what the money meant to her.
"I wish I would have never received that money in the first place, because of what happened," before adding that she was "seeking closure" and compensation for the abuse she suffered, and "for all of the out-of-pocket money I spent to try to make this go away and try and fix myself," she said thru tears. "Hopefully I can move on with my life."
Moe's final question to Jane: "Do you have any financial stake in the outcome of this trial?"
"No," Jane replied.
Maxwell faces a six-count indictment for allegedly conspiring with and aiding Epstein in his sexual abuse of underage girls between 1994 and 2004. She has been held without bail since her arrest in July 2020 and has pleaded not guilty to the charges and proclaimed her innocence.
It is unclear whether Maxwell will take the stand during her trial, which is expected to last six weeks. If convicted, she could spend decades in prison.