NEW YORK (AP) — A key accuser against British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell returned to the witness stand on Wednesday to face-cross examination about allegations Maxwell helped financier Jeffrey Epstein sexually abuse her, starting when she was just 14.
The woman — the first of four alleged victims expected to testify at Maxwell’s New York City trial — is using the name “Jane,” a pseudonym she said she chose to protect a 22-year acting career.
Maxwell, 59, has pleaded not guilty to charges that prosecutors say show that she and Epstein were “partners in crime.” The defense has countered by claiming she’s being made a scapegoat for 66-year-old Epstein, who killed himself in his Manhattan jail cell in 2019 as he awaited a sex trafficking trial.
On Tuesday, the accuser described sexual encounters with Maxwell and Epstein that began in 1994 and continued through 1997. She said Maxwell was “very casual” during the encounters.
The witness said she first met Epstein and Maxwell when she was attending a music camp in pursuit of a singing career.
When describing the first time she was abused by Epstein, she said she was “frozen in fear.” Another time, she said she was taken to a massage room where he and Maxwell both took advantage of her. Other encounters involved sex toys or turned into oral sex “orgies” with other young women and Maxwell, she added.
On cross examination, the defense attacked the witness’s credibility, asking why she waited over 20 years to report the alleged abuse by Maxwell to law enforcement. She said that she mostly avoided the subject for years because it was too painful.