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- American financier
A woman testified at Ghislaine Maxwell's sex-trafficking trial that the socialite befriended her as a teen.
Maxwell later introduced her to sexual activity with Jeffrey Epstein under the guise of a massage, she testified.
The woman said the events still give her nightmares.
A woman who testified Monday in Ghislaine Maxwell's sex-trafficking trial said the British socialite initiated a friendship with her in 1994, when the woman was 17 years old and Maxwell was in her 30s.
The woman, testifying under the pseudonym "Kate," said Maxwell treated everything like a "fun, silly joke" and asked about her relationships and home life before slowly introducing her to Jeffrey Epstein, who initiated sexual contact during a supposed massage.
"I always felt like she was talking like she was younger than me. Which was odd," Kate testified. "Everything was fun. Everything was silly."
Prosecutors have accused Maxwell of sex trafficking girls with Epstein and sexually abusing the girls herself. The allegations in the indictment focus on activity between 1997 and 2004, and concern misconduct against four accusers, who were as young as 14 during that time. Prosecutors also accused Maxwell of lying about her actions in a deposition, and she will be tried separately on perjury charges at a later date.
Maxwell has pleaded not guilty ton all the charges against her.
Kate was referred to as "Minor Victim-3" in the indictment against Maxwell, and referenced in prosecutors' opening statements as a victim.
But US District Judge Alison Nathan, who's overseeing the case, sided with Maxwell's attorneys and ruled that Kate was "not a victim of the crimes charged in the indictment" because she was over the age of consent during the years she was engaged in sexual activity with Epstein. Nathan also ruled that Kate could not go into details about the sexual activity in her testimony.
Kate testified that Maxwell "seemed excited" about bringing her to Epstein for sex
Kate testified that she met Maxwell in Paris while on a date with her boyfriend, who was also in his 30s at the time. Her boyfriend had been a classmate of Maxwell's at Oxford University, and Kate testified that Maxwell struck her as an "impressive" and "elegant" person.
"She seemed to be very exciting and she seemed to be everything I wanted to be," Kate said.
A few weeks later, feeling lonely after changing schools from Paris to London, Kate said she accepted an invitation to Maxwell's townhouse for tea. Maxwell lived in the wealthy Belgravia neighborhood, a short walk from where Kate said she lived with her mother.
The two spoke about Kate's home life, she testified; Kate's mother was ill, and Kate often gave her massages to help with migraines. Kate said she also talked about her ambitions with Maxwell: The 17-year-old had been accepted into Oxford University, and while her mother wanted her to be a lawyer, Kate had dreams of being a singer.
Maxwell insisted that Kate meet Epstein, describing him as a philanthropist who liked to help young people, Kate testified.
"She said he was going to love me, that I was exactly the kind of person he loved to help," Kate said. "She seemed genuinely excited about it."
Kate took in the photos of Epstein around Maxwell's townhouse, she recalled.
"In lots of the photographs, he seemed to be looking at the camera and she seemed to be looking at him," Kate said of Maxwell.
Kate met Epstein for the first time a few weeks later at Maxwell's townhouse, she testified. She recalled being excited about what she believed were Epstein's connections with powerful music industry figures.
At the townhouse, Maxwell told Epstein that Kate was "surprisingly strong for my size," Kate testified. Kate said she weighed about 95 pounds at the time. Kate said that, with Maxwell's encouragement, she massaged Epstein's feet and shoulders, and that Epstein appeared impressed.
The next meeting Kate had with Epstein was a few weeks later, after Maxwell called her to say that a massage therapist had canceled a scheduled appointment with Epstein, Kate testified. When she arrived at Maxwell's townhouse, she said, Maxwell brought her into a room upstairs where a massage table was set up. Kate said that, with Maxwell next to her, Epstein disrobed and stood there naked. Maxwell then handed her a bottle of massage oil and closed the door, she recalled.
What followed was Kate's first sexual contact with Epstein, she testified. After it was over, Kate said Maxwell quizzed her about it.
"'How did it go? Did you have fun? Was it good?'" Kate testified, quoting Maxwell. "She seemed very excited and happy."
"I remember it exactly because I was terrified and frozen," she added.
"I thought she was going to be my friend"
Maxwell invited Kate over to the townhouse once again a few weeks after that, Kate testified. This time, Kate said, Maxwell led her directly to the room with Epstein and the massage table, told her "have a good time," and closed the door.
"At the beginning, I wanted to maintain a relationship with Ghislaine," Kate said. "I thought she was going to be my friend."
From there, Kate said she saw Epstein "sporadically" until her early 30s. She never went to Oxford University — or any other college — and started a career as a model and musician.
Epstein initiated sexual activity on each occasion they met, Kate testified. She said she met with him in London, in Palm Beach, Florida, and on one of his properties in the US Virgin Islands. At one point, Maxwell told Kate that Epstein needed sex three times a day and that she "couldn't keep up," Kate testified.
Epstein and Maxwell namedropped Prince Andrew and Donald Trump, Kate said, and often mentioned other famous friends. Kate testified that she was "fearful" because she witnessed "how connected they were."
In the years since, the meetings with Epstein have given Kate "nightmares," she said.
Epstein killed himself in jail in August 2019 while awaiting trial on similar charges to the ones brought against Maxwell.
During Kate's testimony, Maxwell sat unmoving at the far end of the defense team table, at the opposite side of the room as the witness stand.
Maxwell's attorney Bobbi C. Sternheim — who at one point on Monday accidentally called Maxwell "Mrs. Epstein" — cross-examined Kate on the stand. Sternheim pointed out email records that showed Kate kept in touch with Epstein as late as 2011, years after he finished an 18-month jail sentence on prostitution solicitation charges in Florida.
Kate said she maintained her connections with Epstein to avoid acknowledging that her relationship with him and Maxwell was a problem. She said she has "a huge amount of humiliation" over that part of her life.
"I did not want to admit what happened to me," Kate testified. "And I felt that by ceasing communication, I would have to acknowledge the offense."
Read the original article on Insider