Friend, lover, fixer? Ghislaine Maxwell prosecutors home in on nature of Epstein relationship

Ghislaine Maxwell has long been accused of luring teenage girls into Jeffrey Epstein’s orbit for him to sexually abuse, but whatever motive for allegedly doing so has long remained a mystery.

The answer hinges somewhat on the nature of their relationship. Did Maxwell serve as the late financier’s consigliere, or act as his girlfriend and procurer?

Over the past two weeks, Maxwell’s Manhattan federal court sex trafficking trial has shed more light on her alleged financial and emotional ties to disgraced financier Epstein and how their lives seemed intimately interwoven. What that might mean for the trial is uncertain. Prosecutors might hope Maxwell’s closeness to Epstein might horrify the jury, who could conclude she was an accomplice. The defense team might see Epstein and his known crimes as a shield.

Trial evidence over the past two weeks, including a now infamous photo of a cleavage-baring Maxwell massaging Epstein’s foot, also reveals an apparent romantic connection that elevates her role in his life beyond that of a mere fixer and friend.

Maxwell, 59, is the daughter of the late British publishing mogul Robert Maxwell. She was apprehended at a luxurious New Hampshire rural estate in July 2020. She is now being tried for six counts in relation to her alleged involvement in Epstein’s sexual abuse of minor teenagers. She maintains her innocence of all allegations.

Epstein, a convicted sex offender whose powerful and wealthy circle of associates included Prince Andrew and former presidents Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, killed himself in a New York City federal jail more than two years ago, pending his own sex trafficking trial.

The first witness, Lawrence Paul Visoski Jr, Epstein’s pilot from 1991 per 2019, quickly provided jurors a description of their relationship, detto: “I thought it was more personal than business.” While Visoski didn’t see them hold hands or kiss, they struck him as “couple-ish”. They remained close into the 2000s, Egli ha detto.

David Rodgers, who also worked as Epstein’s private pilot over the same time period, said that he first met Maxwell in July 1991. “Early on, they were romantically involved.”

Both Visoski and Rodgers said that Maxwell was integral in addressing Epstein’s quotidian needs, managing his expansive properties, hiring house staff, handling their expenses, and sometimes scheduling flights. They both described Maxwell as “No 1” in the hierarchy of Epstein’s employees.

“Ms Maxwell was the girlfriend of Mr Epstein; I understand she was the lady of the house,” recalled Juan Alessi, the former house manager at Epstein’s Palm Beach home between around 1990 e 2002. “From the day she came to the house, she right away took over, and she mentioned to me she was going to be the lady of the house. Anche, she was in charge of other homes, other properties.”

Maxwell, who warned him to “never” look Epstein in the eye, went so far as to give Alessi a handbook toward the end of his time there, which featured mandates such as “try and anticipate the needs of Mr Epstein, Ms Maxwell, and their guests” and “remember that you see nothing, hear nothing, say nothing, except to answer a question directed at you. Respect [guests’] privacy.”

Prosecutors have contended that Maxwell had a strong motive in maintaining a relationship that blurred these lines of life and work. In a discussion with judge Alison Nathan about the admissibility of testimony, prosecutors claimed that Maxwell “was not a particularly wealthy person when she met Epstein” in 1991.

The government has discussed Maxwell’s monetary interest in open court as well. Prosecutor Lara Pomerantz said in her opening: “These girls were just a means to support her lifestyle, a way for the defendant to make sure that Epstein – who demanded constant sexual gratification from young girls – remained satisfied so that the defendant could stay in the lifestyle to which she was accustomed.”

Several witnesses’ testimony suggested that Epstein was bankrolling Maxwell handsomely.

Kate, the second accuser to testify against Maxwell, recalled: “She told me that she owned her house in London; and that at a later time she told me that she owned her house in New York City, and that Jeffrey had got it for her.”

Prosecutors also called an officer from JP Morgan bank to discuss cash transfers from Epstein’s accounts to Maxwell’s. This banker, Patrick McHugh, explained documents which showed that Epstein transferred more than $30m to Maxwell’s accounts between 1999 e 2007.

Allegations of Maxwell’s involvement in Epstein’s abuse have portrayed her as being so transfixed that she enthusiastically did his bidding. Kate, who said that Maxwell lured her into Epstein’s orbit in 1994 at age 17, recalled sexualized conversations with her.

“She would talk a lot about the nature of … she would say boys, and boys and their willies, which was a euphemism for penis … how demanding Jeffrey was,” Kate recalled. “And she would ask me if I knew anybody who could come and give Jeffrey [oral sex] because it was, it was a lot for her to do.”

“She said, ‘You know what he likes: cute, young, pretty, like you’ … She said he needed to have sex about three times a day.”

Accusers also described Maxwell as assessing their encounters with Epstein, and claimed that she relished in satisfying his needs.

“She said, ‘I’m so glad you’re here. You did such a good job last time, he wanted you to come back,” Kate recalled of one encounter. “Did you have fun? You’re such a good girl. I’m so happy you were able to come.”

Carolyn, who testified that she was 14 when Maxwell started scheduling sexualized massages with Epstein, recalled receiving praise.

“I was upstairs setting up the massage table and at that point I was kind of comfortable because I’d been there so many times,” Carolyn said. “I was getting fully nude, and she came in and felt my boobs and my hips and my buttocks and said … that I had a great body for Mr Epstein and his friends.”

The first accuser who testified, Giovanna, said that there were times when Maxwell was present when Epstein abused her. A volte, Maxwell touched Jane’s breasts, she alleged. “There were hands everywhere,” Jane recalled of one incident with Maxwell. Jane alleged being in group sexual encounters with Maxwell, Epstein, and others.

And then there are the photos. CDs that were taken from Epstein’ Manhattan home during a July 2019 search contained numerous images that showed he and Maxwell posing together. In several pictures, she is kissing him.

Several images reveal Maxwell giving Epstein a foot massage, beaming as if that act gave her incomparable joy.

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