Prosecution rests case in Ghislaine Maxwell’s sex abuse trial

Fourth accuser told US court Friday that Maxwell set her up for sexual encounter with Jeffrey Epstein when she was 16.

Witness Annie Farmer told the US court she accepted an invitation to Jeffrey Epstein's ranch in New Mexico hoping he and Maxwell would help pay for her college education [Jane Rosenberg/Reuters]

Prosecutors in the United States sex abuse trial of Ghislaine Maxwell have rested their case after a fourth woman testified that the aide to Jeffrey Epstein had set her up for a sexual encounter with the late financier when she was 16.

Maxwell will now have an opportunity to mount her defence in the high-profile trial, which is moving faster than initially expected.

An attorney for Maxwell said on Friday that the defence anticipated its case would last no more than four days, and more likely two or three. Proceedings will resume on December 16.

The fourth accuser, Annie Farmer, told jurors in US federal court in Manhattan on Friday that she accepted an invitation to Epstein’s ranch in New Mexico hoping the pair would help pay for her college education.

Instead, she said Maxwell ended up fondling her breasts and Epstein climbed into bed with her without her permission. “All these experiences made me feel like they had a very different interest in me,” she said.

Farmer, now 42, took the stand using her true identity – a departure from the decision by three other accusers with similar stories who testified during Maxwell’s trial under pseudonyms or first names only to protect their privacy.

Annie Farmer testified that she did not believe Jeffrey Epstein would touch her at the ranch with Ghislaine Maxwell present [Courtesy US Attorney’s Office/Handout via Reuters]

The trial was originally expected to span six weeks.

Maxwell, 59, has pleaded not guilty to eight counts of sex trafficking and other charges for her alleged role in recruiting and grooming four teenagers for Epstein to abuse between 1994 and 2004. Her lawyers say she is being scapegoated because Epstein is no longer alive.

The financier died by suicide at age 66 in 2019 in a Manhattan jail cell while awaiting trial on sex abuse charges.

Farmer said she felt uncomfortable going to Epstein’s ranch because he had held her hand and caressed her in a movie theatre during an earlier meeting in New York. But Farmer testified that she did not believe Epstein would touch her at the ranch with Maxwell present.

While at the ranch, Farmer agreed to receive a massage from Maxwell. Farmer said Maxwell touched her breasts during the massage.

The door was open, and while she did not see Epstein during the encounter, she said she thought he was nearby. “I just had this sense that he could see me,” Farmer said. “I just wanted so badly to get off the table and have this massage be done.”

Later on, Farmer said she was in bed when Epstein opened the door to her room and playfully told her that he wanted to “cuddle”. He then got into her bed and “pressed his body into me”.

“I felt kind of frozen,” she said.

Protesters have been gathering with placards outside of the court in New York City [Jeenah Moon/Reuters]

She said she had to use the toilet, which she described as an “excuse” to get away from Epstein.

Before Farmer’s testimony, jurors had heard from three women who said they were teenagers when Maxwell set them up for sexual abuse by Epstein. Those witnesses said Maxwell encouraged them to give Epstein massages that would escalate into sexual encounters.

Farmer, the only one of the four to testify under her full name, said she had no further contact with Epstein or Maxwell after the New Mexico trip.

US District Judge Alison Nathan instructed jurors that any physical contact Farmer had with Epstein was not “illegal sexual activity” under New Mexico’s laws.

Source: News Agencies