by Paul Serran
This is an ongoing series. To read the previous articles, click on the links below.
There has been a lot of apprehension on the part of people following the Ghislaine Maxwell trial that the prosecution team might not have been doing a stellar work in this case.
That gets exemplified in the deposition of victim-turned-witness ‘Kate’ (pseudonym). Incredible as it seems, during the duration of the trial, Judge Alison Nathan decided that, as Kate was over the age of consent in Britain (she was 17), the jury has to understand that she is ‘not a victim’ of the alleged crimes, and any sexual encounters she described were not “illegal sex acts.”
The Judge said that the jury cannot convict Maxwell based on Kate’s evidence and cannot use it for assessing Maxwell’s ‘character’. The jury can only use it for things that are ‘relevant to the issues before [the jury]’, to demonstrate patterns in Epstein’s and Maxwell’s behavior.
The thing is, from Maxwell’s arrest in July 2020 until the start of the trial there have been literally dozens of pre-trial court sessions regarding every aspect of this case. That the prosecution can be blindsided with this very simple information this long into the proceedings seems very hard to believe. Is this the mighty DOJ with the 97% conviction rate?
Kate testified that, in 1994, Ghislaine Maxwell groomed her to be abused by Jeffrey Epstein. She was 17, and struggling to make friends, after moving to Britain from France, living with her mother who was ill and ‘under a lot of stress’.
Maxwell was ‘very sophisticated and very elegant -everything that I wanted to be.’
It was in her house, in the elegant Belgravia neighborhood of London, prosecutors argue, that Maxwell befriended girls and helped make them susceptible to abuse by Mr. Epstein.
‘I felt that I had found a new connection that could be really meaningful to me”, Kate said. ‘She seemed as excited as I was to have a new friend.’
Kate told Maxwell that she was to study law at Oxford University, and that she was a musician, too. They also talked talked about how she was into athletics.
Maxwell would ask what she was up to, if she was dating anybody and if anything exciting was going on in her life. ‘Everything seemed to be a fun, silly joke.’
Kate: ‘She told me lots of amazing things about her boyfriend, a philanthropist who helped younger people.’
Kate testified that Ghislaine Maxwell called her: Epstein was in town, could she come over and meet him? ‘She was very activated, very excited. There was a sense of urgency.’
Kate was very strong, Maxwell told Epstein, and proceeded to suggest the ‘legally-aged in Britain’ girl massage Mr. Epstein’s feet. ‘Why don’t you give his feet a little squeeze to show him how strong you are?’
A few days after, Kate testified, Maxwell asked Kate to fill in for Epstein’s masseuse, even though she was not a massage therapist. ‘Epstein needed massages all the time’, Maxwell told her, ‘and it was very difficult to keep up’.
Kate told the jurors she was led to a dimly lit room in Maxwell’s house. Epstein took out his robe and stood naked. Maxwell closed the door. It was the first of many such sexual encounters.
These instances of abuse, that Judge Nathan admonished the jury were not to be seen as ‘illegal sex acts’, occurred in London, Palm Beach and New York, Kate testified.
‘I didn’t know how to say no’, and she also did not know what the ‘consequences’ would be if she refused.
But that was not all that Kate had to say about the ‘new connection’ that she hoped ‘would be meaningful’ to her. She testified that Ghislaine Maxwell asked her to find young women for sexual encounters with Epstein, ‘because his demands were insatiable’.
‘Maxwell would ask me if I knew anybody who could come and give Jeffrey a blow job, because it was a lot for her to do”, Kate told the jury. ‘You know what he likes: cute, young, pretty, like you’, Maxwell said, according to Kate, ‘he needed to have sex about three times a day’.
Now this is a point where Kate’s testimony gets to be quite relevant, even though she was downgraded from victim to witness: not only did Maxwell groom her for Epstein, but then she proceeded to ask her to find him other girls – young.
This is what the prosecutors called the ‘pyramid of abuse’ in which victims bring other victims into the fold, slowly turning themselves into new victimizers.
And, according to Kate, in Maxwell’s request there was no disguising that the objective was to have sex. According to the Judge instructions, jurors can use that to corroborate other testimonies highlighting the same behavior.
Kate kept in touch with Epstein for many years. ‘I did not want to admit what had happened to me’, She also said she felt ‘fearful of disengaging’. ‘I had witnessed how connected they both were.’
Maxwell’s defense lawyer, Bobbi Sternheim, described Kate as ‘an ambitious former model and jet setter’ during her opening statement. Sternheim said Kate was eager to spend time with Maxwell and Epstein, and that her motivation, as a British citizen, was working with prosecutors to secure an American visa.
On cross-examination, Kate denied to be trying to get a visa for people who have experienced abuse. She did admit that, at one point, she had thought that this type of visa would be in her interest.
Sternheim also asked if Kate’s (admitted) abuse of alcohol, cocaine and sleeping pills could have affected her memory. She replied that she was not allowed to be drunk or use drugs while with Epstein and Maxwell, and remembered the events she had described to the jury.
Prosecutors have stated in their opening remarks that Ghislaine Maxwell wanted to satisfy Epstein to ‘stay in the lifestyle to which she was accustomed.’
While it’s the prosecutors’ job to prove that assertion, two things are clear. The first is: with the death of Robert Maxwell, his media empire crumbled, and his theft of employee’s pension funds was brought out in the open. His favorite daughter was left with a pension that would guarantee an upper-middle class lifestyle – an unacceptable outcome for the ‘Lady Ghislaine’.
The second undeniable fact was brought from prosecutors into court right after Kate’s testimony: Jeffrey Epstein transferred over 30 million to Ghislaine Maxwell over a period of eight years, between 1999 and 2007.
That’s around 40 times what she made in her pension during that period, plus – of course – she had all expenses paid to jet around the world with Jeffrey looking for young, young, beautiful girls. As many as three a day.
JPMorgan Chase Executive Director Patrick McHugh produced bank statements and testified to the following facts:
In August 1999, Epstein’s Financial Trust Company sold US$18.3 million in shares and transferred it to a bank account owned by Maxwell.
The reason for the transfer was unclear.
In October 2000, Maxwell paid US$4.9 million for a townhouse on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.
In September 2002, an Epstein account sold $5 million in shares, transferred to a Maxwell account at a bank in Palm Beach.
In June 2007, an Epstein bank account transferred US$7.6 million to Maxwell. Also, on the same day, she transferred it to a company called Air Ghislaine, which she controlled. The very same day, Maxwell then wired the money to aircraft maker Sikorsky. The transfer states it to be destined for the purchase of a S76C green helicopter and ‘down payment on executive finish.’
Maxwell’s lawyer Christian Everdell, during cross examination, suggested that such transfers were typical for a billionaire like Epstein.
[Note: Epstein was not a billionaire.]
Everdell asked if high-net-worth individuals like them have lots of assets. ‘They could,’ answered McHugh, who said that the transfers alone don’t indicate any foul play.
This is an ongoing series. Stay tuned for more updates.