NEW YORK (AP) — One was an aspiring musician looking for her big break in the show business. Another was a model striving for a leg up in British society. A third was a struggling middle school dropout. The last was an impressionable high school student.
All were drawn into Jeffrey Epstein’s orbit as teenagers and now have also testified as key accusers in the sex-abuse trial of British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell.
The women’s testimony in federal court in Manhattan, at times emotional, offered sordid details about allegations Maxwell groomed them to participate in sexual massages with Epstein. The defense says Maxwell is being made to take the fall for Epstein, who died by suicide awaiting his own sex-abuse trial in 2019.
The first three women testified as Jane, Kate and Carolyn — first names or pseudonyms intended to protect their privacy. The last was Annie Farmer, who took the witness stand using her real name.
Here is what they said during two weeks of testimony for the government, which rested its case Friday. The defense is set to begin its own case next week:
Jane spelled out an alleged pattern of deception by Maxwell that would be echoed by the others. She said she was 14 when she met Maxwell and Epstein at a music camp where Epstein was a benefactor.
Maxwell showered her with attention in a way that left her vulnerable the moment she was first instructed to follow Epstein into his pool house in his Palm Beach, Florida estate in 1994, she said.
When he began to sexually abuse her, “I was frozen in fear,” she said. “I’d never seen a penis before.”
Prosecutors wanted evidence that Maxwell was a direct participant. Jane gave it to them by claiming Maxwell and Epstein fondled her together.
When a prosecutor asked her why, as the defense pointed out, she didn’t initially reveal everything about her experiences with Epstein in initial interviews with law enforcement, she said fighting back tears: “Because it was too difficult — too difficult emotionally, too difficult on every level.”
Like the others, Kate recalled Maxwell praising and encouraging her, before Epstein sexually abused her during interactions that started in the early 1990s when she was 17.
The British woman described being intrigued by Maxwell, the daughter of a media mogul, and wanting to be her friend. She also testified about seeing Epstein naked for the first time after Maxwell stood next to him and asked her to massage him — and about feeling ashamed when it was over.
But there was a twist to her testimony when the judge ruled in favor of defense arguments that she shouldn’t be allowed to testify about details of any sexual contact with Epstein.
U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan set that limit on her testimony because she was 17 when she first interacted with Epstein in Maxwell’s London home — the minimum age of consent in Britain. The same applied to later visits to Epstein’s Florida home when she was 18.
Kate still may have struck a blow for the government with her account of an interaction with Maxwell after a sexual massage with Epstein.
Maxwell “asked me if I had fun” and told her: “You are such a good girl.”
A key role for Carolyn was to provide testimony about what prosecutors called “a pyramid of abuse,” allegedly encouraged by Maxwell.
While 14, she was one of several underprivileged teens who lived near Epstein’s Florida home in the early 2000s. Word spread that he was offering $100 bills for massages.
When an older schoolmate offered an introduction, Carolyn said she took the bait. She testified she made her age known, but that didn’t dissuade Maxwell and Epstein, she said.
Epstein, she said, masturbated and fondled her “every time” they got together. He also wanted her to bring along “any friends that were my age or younger,” she said.
She said found a friend for a threesome with Epstein. When it was over, “I was paid $600 and my friend was paid $300.” Why? “Because I brought her.”
She would learn that she hit her expiration at age 18 when Epstein, rather than hire her for massages, asked her to bring younger girls.
“And that’s when I realized I was too old,” she said.
Farmer, now 42, is a psychologist who had told her story publicly before the trial through civil litigation against Epstein and in media interviews. She repeated how Epstein and Maxwell led her to believe they could be mentors, only to betray her trust.
On the stand, she walked the jury through her history with Epstein while 16 and in high school in 1996. She described how she was creeped out when Epstein held her hand at the movies in New York; when Maxwell touched her breasts while giving her a massage at Epstein’s New Mexico ranch; and when Epstein unexpectedly crawled into bed with her and pressed himself against her.
Feeling helpless, she made an excuse to go to the bathroom and hid there, thinking she “wanted to be in there long enough that this situation would be over,” she said.
The defense tried to rattle Farmer by suggesting she exaggerated her allegations in a $1.5 million claim awarded by a compensation fund set up for victims of Epstein by saying Maxwell had “groped” her and that Epstein had rubbed his genitals against her.
Farmer pushed back. Her goal all along, she said, was to see Maxwell “held accountable for the harm she’s caused.”