The trial of Ghislaine Maxwell continued on Wednesday in federal court in downtown Manhattan, where the British socialite is facing sex-trafficking charges for allegedly assisting her late associate, Jeffrey Epstein, in abusing underage girls. In today’s testimony, the defense cross-examined the government’s first alleged-victim witness, who, to protect her privacy, is known simply as “Jane.” (Her testimony began yesterday.) Citing notes from Jane’s previous unrecorded interviews with the government, Maxwell’s attorney Laura Menninger pointed out apparent inconsistencies and implied Jane had changed her story over time. Jane largely refused to engage, repeating “I don’t recall” and suggesting multiple times that the FBI’s notes from her interview could have been wrong.
The defense questioned inconsistent statements on whether Epstein had approached her alone at Interlochen Performing Arts Camp when she was 14 or if a woman — Maxwell — had been with him. In 2019, the attorney pointed out, Jane told the government that Maxwell had walked by with her dog. On Tuesday, Jane testified that Maxwell and Epstein had approached her together. “The FBI got it wrong again?” Menninger said. “Maybe they typed it up wrong,” Jane said.
During yesterday’s direct examination from the prosecution, Jane said she’d first seen Maxwell naked was on an occasion when Epstein and Maxwell had led her upstairs and began fondling each other and giggling, then told Jane to take her clothes off before Epstein began masturbating. On Wednesday, defense pointed to notes from a 2019 interview where Jane had reportedly said she did not have a specific memory of the first time she saw Maxwell nude. Asked if she remembered saying this in an interview with the government, Jane said, “I don’t recall.”
Defense brought up more instances where they claimed Jane had changed her story, trying to impeach her credibility as a witness. One was regarding the timing of when the alleged abuse started; whether she’d told the government that she wasn’t sure if Maxwell had touched her; whether she’d told the government she was unsure if Maxwell had ever seen her performing oral sex on Epstein; and whether she’d told the government her first trip to New York with Epstein had been free from abuse. In each instance, she answered “I don’t know” or “I don’t recall.”
In excruciating back-and-forths, Jane would say she didn’t remember saying something, at which point Menninger would ask her to consult documentation of her conversations with the government. “With all due respect,” Jane said during questioning about the timing of a trip to New York to see The Lion King on Broadway in the late 1990s. “I didn’t write this and I’ve never seen this document before.”
At one point, Jane seemed to point to the vagaries of remembering traumatic events over time. Menninger pointed to a 2019 interview where she’d supposedly said she was not sure if Maxwell had ever called her house in Florida to arrange meetings with Epstein. This was in contrast to what she’d said on Tuesday — that Maxwell or an assistant had called her house to arrange her visits. “Memory is not linear,” she said.
During the course of the cross-examination, Jane confirmed she had flown on Epstein’s plane with Prince Andrew and celebrity chef Adam Perry Lang, and that Epstein had brought her to Mar-a-Lago, where he introduced her to Donald Trump, whom she did not accuse of any wrongdoing. She was 14 years old at the time.