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“There Was a Lot of Bragging About How They Were Friends With Essentially Everyone”: The First Accuser in the Ghislaine Maxwell Trial Takes the Stand

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In 1994, Jane recalled on Tuesday, she met Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell for the first time. She was a 14-year-old attending a summer camp for the arts in Michigan, and had just suffered a family tragedy. About nine months prior, she said, her father, a conductor and composer, died of leukemia, after his employer canceled his health insurance. Jane’s family went into bankruptcy, but her older sister and brother-in-law pitched in to send the aspiring entertainer to the camp.

That initial meeting with Epstein and Maxwell, Jane testified in a Manhattan federal courthouse, seemed innocuous at the time, even friendly. They said they were camp benefactors and visited every summer, and Epstein, upon learning that Jane’s father had recently died and that she was from Palm Beach, claimed that he knew her mother from the area.

Jane is the first of four Epstein accusers who form the basis of the federal sex-trafficking charges that Maxwell is currently standing trial for. Prosecutors claim that Maxwell facilitated Epstein’s sexual abuse of minors and at times participated in it. She has pleaded not guilty on all counts. On the second day of the proceedings, Jane (a pseudonym used in the courtroom) testified through tears that Epstein began sexually abusing her over the course of several years when she was 14, and that Maxwell was present for the abuse in some instances.

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Jane recalled Maxwell and Epstein giggling during one encounter when they allegedly sexually abused her. “It was very casual, like it was very normal,” she said. “Like it was not a big deal.”

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Jane’s testimony followed a period, stretching between two days, when Lawrence Visoski, a longtime pilot for Epstein, told jurors about what he saw in the late financier’s far-flung residences and private jets. Visoski repeatedly stated that he couldn’t see what passengers were doing while he was flying, and that he never saw any sexual activity on the planes. When asked if all the women passengers over the years appeared to be adults, he responded, “Oh, absolutely.” (Visoski recalled Jane, who traveled with Epstein for years as a teenager, as a “mature woman with some piercing powder blue eyes.”)

When questioned about them by Maxwell attorney Christian Everdell during cross-examination, Visoski was able to remember some of the powerful figures who flew on Epstein’s jets: John Glenn, George Mitchell, Donald Trump, Kevin Spacey, Chris Tucker, Prince Andrew, and Bill Clinton. It was a lot of names in service of making the relatively minor point that Visoski signing a nondisclosure agreement when he became Epstein’s pilot was unremarkable. But even at this early stage of the trial, it’s been clear that the Epstein orbit is inextricable from the case.

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“From the beginning,” Jane testified about Epstein and Maxwell, “there was a lot of bragging about how they were friends with essentially everyone.” When the likes of Trump or Clinton would call and she was around, Jane said, Epstein and Maxwell would put them on speakerphone. Epstein mentioned these connections just before he first allegedly sexually abused Jane, who remembered him saying: “I know all the agents, all the photographers, the owner of Victoria’s Secret.”

Before ending her direct examination of Jane, Assistant U.S. District Attorney Alison Moe took some steps to address what has already appeared to be a central component in the trial. At Moe’s prompting, Jane testified that the compensation fund for Epstein victims awarded her $5 million, of which, following litigation fees, she received $2.9 million. Moe asked if, in Jane’s understanding, the jury’s verdict in the trial will affect her compensation, and whether she has any financial stake in the trial: no and no.

The defense lawyer Laura Menninger began her cross-examination of Jane just before the trial let out for the day, but perhaps offered a brief preview of the strategy for the days to follow. She asked Jane, who had testified that she initially felt too ashamed to tell anyone about Epstein and Maxwell’s abuse, if she waited 20 years to report her experiences to law enforcement.

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