Skip to main content

Laura A. Menninger and Jeffrey S. Pagliuca, part of Ghislaine Maxwell's defence team, depart the Thurgood Marshall United States Courthouse in New York City on Nov. 29.DAVID DEE DELGADO/Getty Images

A woman testified at Ghislaine Maxwell’s criminal trial on Tuesday that she had sexual contact with Jeffrey Epstein multiple times when she was 14 years old, sometimes with Ms. Maxwell in the room looking on after helping to bring her into the late financier’s orbit.

The testimony from the woman, known by the pseudonym Jane, came on the second day of Ms. Maxwell’s sex abuse trial in Manhattan federal court.

Ms. Maxwell, 59, faces sex trafficking and other charges for allegedly recruiting and grooming Jane and three other underage girls for Mr. Epstein to abuse between 1994 and 2004.

The British socialite has pleaded not guilty, and her lawyers have said she is being scapegoated for Mr. Epstein’s alleged crimes.

Now in her early 40s, Jane testified for the government that Ms. Maxwell and Mr. Epstein first approached her and a group of friends when they were eating ice cream at an arts summer camp in Michigan in the summer of 1994.

Jane was a singer, but said her family was struggling financially after her father’s death the prior year, and that Mr. Epstein and Ms. Maxwell told her that they were benefactors of her camp and awarded many student scholarships.

She testified that Ms. Maxwell would sometimes take her to the movies or hang out by the pool at Mr. Epstein’s house, and talk about school, including whether she had a boyfriend.

Jane said she did not, and that Ms. Maxwell then told her that once you have sex with them, you can always have sex with them again “because they’re grandfathered in.”

“I giggled because I didn’t understand what grandfathered meant first and foremost,” Jane testified.

Prosecutors alleged in a 2021 indictment against Ms. Maxwell that behaviour including buying girls gifts and discussing sexual topics with them amounted to “grooming” them for abuse.

After camp ended, Mr. Epstein invited her and her mother over for tea, Jane said, adding that she was later invited by Ms. Maxwell and other Epstein employees to come on her own.

On one of those occasions, Jane testified that Mr. Epstein offered to help with her singing career before ending the conversation abruptly.

“He just took my hand and said, ‘Follow me,’ ” before taking her to his pool house and pulling down his pants, Jane said.

“He pulled me on top of himself and proceeded to masturbate on me and then he got up and went into the bathroom and cleaned himself up,” Jane said. “I was terrified and felt gross and I felt ashamed.”

On other occasions, also at age 14, Jane said Ms. Maxwell and Mr. Epstein would take her to a massage table in his Palm Beach house and demonstrate how Mr. Epstein liked to be massaged.

Jane described Ms. Maxwell’s demeanour as “very casual” during these interactions.

In her opening statement on Monday, a lawyer for Ms. Maxwell described Jane as a talented singer who received financial help from Mr. Epstein and never accused Ms. Maxwell of wrongdoing before his death.

The lawyer asked the jury to listen for “internal inconsistencies” in Jane’s testimony.

Ms. Maxwell’s lawyers will get a chance to cross-examine Jane.

Mr. Epstein died by suicide in a Manhattan jail cell in 2019 while awaiting trial on sex-abuse charges.

Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.