By Luc Cohen NEW YORK (Reuters) – A second woman who says Ghislaine Maxwell groomed her for abuse by late financier Jeffrey Epstein while she was a teenager testified on Monday that the British socialite “told me I was one of his favorites” after one of her encounters with Epstein. The woman, who is testifying […]
Ghislaine Maxwell ‘told me I was one of [Epstein’s] favorites,’ accuser testifies
By Luc Cohen
NEW YORK (Reuters) – A second woman who says Ghislaine Maxwell groomed her for abuse by late financier Jeffrey Epstein while she was a teenager testified on Monday that the British socialite “told me I was one of his favorites” after one of her encounters with Epstein.
The woman, who is testifying under the pseudonym Kate, is the second of four women named in a 2021 indictment to take the stand at Maxwell’s sex abuse trial in Manhattan federal court. The trial began last week, and is set to last into January.
Kate said she was 17 when and struggling to make friends after moving to Britain from France when she met Maxwell for tea at her London townhouse in 1994, becoming acquainted through a 35-year-old man she was dating.
Now in her mid-40s, Kate recounted how she was an aspiring musician, and Maxwell offered to introduce her to her boyfriend, who could help her career.
“I left there feeling exhilarated and like somebody wanted to be my friend,” Kate said.
Because Kate was over the age of consent in Britain, U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan instructed the jury that any sexual encounters she described were not “illegal sex acts.”
Still, prosecutors could use Kate’s testimony to corroborate patterns in Epstein’s and Maxwell’s behavior that other witnesses describe, including that Maxwell’s doting on teenage girls was a means of “grooming” them for Epstein’s abuse.
Maxwell, 59, has pleaded not guilty to eight counts of sex trafficking and other charges, and her lawyers say the memories of the four women have been corrupted over the decades that have passed since the alleged encounters.
Kate said that upon returning to the townhouse several weeks after having tea, Epstein – Maxwell’s boyfriend – was there.
She said she massaged Epstein’s feet at Maxwell’s request, with Epstein being impressed at how strong she was. A couple weeks later, Kate said Maxwell asked her to come back to the house and give Epstein a massage. When asked by a prosecutor whether she was a massage therapist, Kate said no.
Kate said Maxwell led her to a massage room. Epstein was there, wearing a bathrobe. Maxwell closed the door, and Epstein had a sexual encounter with Kate. She said Maxwell saw her after the encounter ended.
“She said did you have fun, you’re such a good girl, I’m so happy you were able to come,” Kate said. “She sounded really pleased, and I was really pleased that she was pleased.”
Kate said that after she turned 18, she went to see Maxwell and Epstein at Epstein’s estate in Palm Beach, where she and Epstein had a sexual encounter at the poolhouse.
Maxwell “told me that I was such a good girl and that I was one of his favorites.”
Lawyers for Maxwell have said their client is being prosecuted only because Epstein is no longer alive. The globetrotting investor killed himself in 2019 at age 66 in a Manhattan jail cell while awaiting sex trafficking charges.
Last week, jurors heard from a woman known as Jane who said Epstein sexually abused her beginning in 1994 while she was 14. Maxwell sometimes participated in their encounters, which often began as massages before escalating, Jane said.
(Reporting by Luc Cohen in New York; editing by Grant McCool, Mark Porter and Noeleen Walder)