Maxwell Defense Lawyer Goes After Accuser’s Memories of Abuse
(Bloomberg) -- Ghislaine Maxwell’s accuser “Jane” was questioned by the socialite’s lawyers about inconsistencies in her testimony about being sexually abused as a teenager by Maxwell and her ex-boyfriend Jeffrey Epstein.
Jane -- a pseudonym for the first of four of Maxwell’s alleged victims to testify in her sex-trafficking trial -- had described the abuse in detail Tuesday, saying it began when she was just 14 years old, after Epstein and Maxwell spotted her eating ice cream at art camp. Epstein would go on to sexually assault her for years, with Maxwell sometimes participating, she said.
Maxwell is charged with trafficking girls for abuse by Epstein and participating in some of the abuse herself. She has pleaded not guilty and denies all the charges.
On cross-examination, Maxwell’s lawyer Laura Menninger asked Jane about purported differences between what she said on the stand and what she’d said previously to a reporter and to Federal Bureau of Investigation agents. Menninger suggested Jane hadn’t before mentioned Maxwell being present or participating in sexual encounters with Epstein.
Menninger questioned Jane about an FBI memo on a 2019 interview with Jane in California that said “Ghislaine walked by with her dog and Jeffrey came up to meet you,” suggesting Jane omitted Maxwell being present the first time she met Epstein at the Interlochen Center for the Arts.
“I wouldn’t have said that,” Jane said.
“So, the FBI got it wrong again?” Menninger said.
Jane replied, “Maybe they typed it up wrong?”
Maxwell’s lawyers claim the socialite is a scapegoat for Epstein, who committed suicide in 2019 while awaiting his own sex-trafficking trial, and that the four women’s memories of events from nearly 30 years ago have been “contaminated” by time, press accounts and their own desire to receive millions of dollars in compensation from Epstein’s estate.
Jane was questioned by Menninger about the lawsuit she filed against Epstein’s estate. Jane said she settled the suit for $5 million but only received $2.9 million after lawyer’s fees. She denied that she would benefit financially from a verdict in Maxwell’s trial.
Menninger continued her questioning by asking Jane about applications she’d submitted to Interlochen on three successive years, beginning when she was 13. Jane said Tuesday that her father had died from Leukemia the year before she met Epstein, a situation the financier took advantage of by offering her and her family more stability.
Menninger asked her to read some of the applications, including a letter of recommendation, in an effort to undermine Jane’s account of family turmoil.
The letter said Jane had “a strong and loving family background,” and that her family helped organize an annual charity performance. It compared the singing performance by Jane and two brothers to “the rebirth of the Von Trapp family,” the family depicted in “The Sound of Music.”
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