A British woman has testified in a US court that Ghislaine Maxwell, a former aide to disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein, pressured her into giving him sexual massages when she was still a teenager – assuring her she would have “fun”.
The woman – identified by the pseudonym “Kate” – was the second accuser to testify in Maxwell’s high-profile trial in New York City, where she is facing several charges, including sex trafficking, for allegedly grooming girls for Epstein to abuse.
Kate on Monday described one episode during the mid-1990s at Epstein’s Palm Beach, Florida estate where she said Maxwell left out a schoolgirl’s outfit with a pleated skirt for her to wear for the disgraced financier.
“I thought it would be fun for you to take Jeffrey his tea in this outfit,” the witness recalled Maxwell telling her. After a sexual encounter that followed, Maxwell “asked me if I had fun” and told her, “You are such a good girl”, she said.
Maxwell, 59, has pleaded not guilty to charges she groomed girls as young as 14 for Epstein, who died by suicide in jail in 2019 at age 66. Her lawyers say the government is making her a scapegoat for Epstein’s alleged sex crimes.
US prosecutors are expected to call two other accusers to testify in the trial, which is set to last into January.
But unlike the first witness, Jane, who testified last week that Epstein regularly abused her starting when she was 14 – Kate’s testimony was not allowed to include details of sex acts with Epstein because she was 17 at the time, the age of consent in Britain.
US District Judge Alison Nathan instructed the jury that any sexual encounters she described were not “illegal sex acts”.
Rather than provide evidence of criminal wrongdoing, US prosecutors are using her testimony to illustrate the wider pattern of grooming young girls and corroborating other accuser statements.
Kate testified that she met Maxwell at age 17 through a friend of hers she had dated on and off, and was eager to be friends with the British socialite. Maxwell told her Epstein, then her boyfriend, was a philanthropist who could help her with her singing career, she said.
“She seemed to be everything that I wanted to be,” said Kate, who is now 44. “I left there feeling exhilarated and like somebody wanted to be my friend.”
Maxwell also told her that Epstein was “demanding” when it came to sexual massages, saying it was “very difficult to keep up” with his needs, the witness said. After agreeing to give him massages in London, she was later flown on commercial flights to Florida, where she said the interactions continued when she was 18.
Maxwell’s demeanour was “almost like a schoolgirl”, Kate said. “Everything was fun. Everything seemed to be like a fun, silly joke.”
Asked about wanting to testify anonymously, she said she had “a huge amount of humiliation and shame around the events that took place” and wanted to protect her child.
Kate said she went on to become a musician and model, and stayed in touch with Maxwell until she was 24 and with Epstein until her 30s.
She said she was at first hopeful that Maxwell would be her friend, but later remained in their orbit because she “did not want to admit what had happened to me”.
“I was also fearful of disengaging because I had witnessed how connected they both were,” said Kate, who recalled that Maxwell told her she was friends with Britain’s Prince Andrew and former US President Donald Trump, who at the time was a well-known businessman.
Neither Trump nor Prince Andrew has been accused of wrongdoing in the case.
Maxwell, the daughter of the late British press baron Robert Maxwell, faces an effective life sentence if convicted.
The trial will continue with a cross-examination of Kate by Maxwell’s defence team.