Sunday, January 29

The indictment rests on Ghislaine Maxwell’s sexual abuse trial

Prosecutors finished bringing their case against Ghislaine Maxwell on Friday after a key accuser in the British socialite’s sexual abuse trial testified that Maxwell and her partner, Jeffrey Epstein, forced her when she was just 16 years old.

Annie Farmer told jurors that she accepted an invitation to the financier’s sprawling New Mexico ranch in 1996 in the hope that Maxwell and Epstein would help her with her academic endeavors. Instead, she said, Maxwell ended up massaging her breasts and Epstein got into bed without her permission.

Three others have claimed in the trial that began two weeks ago that Maxwell recruited them to give Epstein massages with the intention of a ruse for sexual abuse.

Maxwell, 59, has denied charges that she groomed underage girls for Epstein, who committed suicide in jail in 2019. Her lawyers say the government is making her a scapegoat for alleged sex crimes committed by her. former boyfriend and moved immediately for an acquittal after Prosecutors rested Friday afternoon.

US District Judge Alison J. Nathan heard brief arguments and rejected the request to acquit Maxwell without the jury hearing the case.

The judge told the jury that they will return Thursday to hear the defense case, which an attorney estimated would likely last two to three days. The judge has suggested that closing arguments, in a trial originally projected to last six weeks, could occur on Dec. 20 if the defense presentation next week only lasts a day or two.

In her testimony, Farmer recalled the unwanted physical contact that made her feel like “I just wanted the weekend to end … I wanted to finish.”

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She added, “All of these experiences made me feel like they had a very different interest in me.”

When asked by a prosecutor at the beginning of his testimony if he saw anyone in the courtroom who had ever given him a massage, Farmer identified Maxwell, who was sitting at the defense table staring at Farmer.

Farmer, now 42, took the stand using his true identity, a departure from the decision of three other accusers with similar stories who testified under pseudonyms or first names only to protect their privacy.

Two of the others who testified said they were only 14 when the abuse started and that Maxwell sometimes participated in the encounters.

Farmer testified that he met Epstein at age 16 on a 1996 trip to New York City to visit his older sister, who worked for him at his Manhattan mansion. When they visited him at the home, “he seemed very friendly and down-to-earth,” and even offered to be their mentor, he said.

She said that during a movie outing with Epstein, he reached out to take her hand and stroke her leg.

“I felt sick to my stomach,” he said. “It wasn’t something I expected at all.”

When Farmer returned home, he kept in touch with the wealthy financier and accepted an invitation to travel to New Mexico with a plane ticket that he paid for even though, he said, “after what happened at the movies, I didn’t want to to be alone with him. “

She said that she initially felt more comfortable because Maxwell was there. But when they took her to the movies, he “immediately started to hold my hand” and rub his foot and arm throughout the movie without any effort to hide Maxwell’s behavior, she said.

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Once home, Maxwell insisted on giving Farmer a massage and told him to remove his clothes, Farmer testified. Maxwell “pulled the sheet down and exposed my breasts and started rubbing my breasts,” Farmer said.

“It didn’t make sense to me for that to happen,” he said. “I wanted so badly to get up from the table and do the massage.”

Farmer accepted $ 1.5 million from a fund created to compensate Epstein’s victims, he testified.

The encounters occurred in New Mexico, which did not have a specific age of consent statute, although its laws criminalized all sexual contact by a person under the age of 13 when it comes to coercion or force.

On questioning, a defense attorney repeatedly emphasized through his questions that Maxwell was not involved in the most egregious behavior described by Farmer and caused Farmer to be unsure that she was naked during his massage, although he was sure that her breasts they were exposed.

Prosecutors also called Farmer’s ex-boyfriend and his mother as witnesses to back up their testimony.

David James Mulligan, 42, testified that Farmer told him he was “touched on the chest” when he was massaged in New Mexico.

“She told me that she felt fearful, uncomfortable and powerless,” he said.

Janice Swain, 71, Farmer’s mother, testified that Epstein told her before the trip to New Mexico that her daughter would be joined by 20 to 25 other students there.

Swain said that when Farmer got home from the trip, she was “calm and withdrawn.” When Farmer finally said something at a later date, he said, “I don’t want to talk about it and I’m not going to let it ruin my life,” the mother recalled.

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The Associated Press does not identify people who say they have been victims of sexual abuse unless they make themselves known publicly. Although Farmer was not identified by name in court documents, the practicing psychologist has been frank in describing her experiences in interviews with ABC and The New York Times.

Maxwell has been incarcerated since she was arrested in New Hampshire in July 2020. When she requested bail, Farmer asked the judge to deny it and called her a “psychopath.”

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