Prosecutors have completed presenting their case against Ghislaine Maxwell with stunning testimony by a key accuser who testified she had been forced into sex with Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein when she was just 16.
Annie Farmer told jurors at the British socialite’s sex-abuse trial on Friday 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 academic endeavours.
Instead, she said, Maxwell ended up massaging her breasts while a predatory Epstein climbed into her bed without her permission.
Three other witnesses have asserted at the trial, which began two weeks ago, that Maxwell recruited them to give Epstein massages which prosecutors assert was a ruse to initiate sexual abuse.
Maxwell, 59, has denied charges she groomed underage girls for Epstein, who was found dead in his cell while awaiting trial.
The legal team representing the daughter of the late and disgraced press baron Robert Maxwell moved immediately for a judgment of acquittal after prosecutors rested on Friday afternoon.
That motion was rejected by the court, with the judge telling jurors they will return late next week to hear the defence case.
The judge has suggested that closing arguments – at a trial originally projected to last six weeks – might occur as early as December 20 if the defence presentation last only a day or two.
In her testimony, Farmer recalled the unwanted physical contact making her feel like she “just wanted the weekend to be over … I wanted to be done with it”.
She added: “All these experiences made me feel like they had a very different interest in me.”
Asked by a prosecutor at the start of her testimony if she saw anyone in the courtroom who had ever given her a massage, Farmer identified Maxwell, who was sitting at the defence table looking at Farmer.
Farmer, now 42, took the stand using her true identity – a departure from the decision by 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 14 when the abuse started and that Maxwell sometimes participated in the encounters.
‘He seemed very friendly’
Farmer testified that she met Epstein at age 16 on a 1996 trip to New York City to visit her older sister, who was working 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 mentor her, she said.
She said that during an outing to the movies with Epstein, he reached over to hold her hand and caress her leg.
“I felt sick to my stomach,” she said. “It was not something I was expecting at all.”
When Farmer returned home, she stayed in touch with the wealthy financier and accepted an invitation to travel to New Mexico with a plane ticket he paid for even though, she said, “after what happened in the movie theatre, I didn’t want to be alone with him.”
She said she initially felt more comfortable because Maxwell was there. But when they took her to the movies, he “right away began to hold my hand” and rub her foot and arm throughout the film with no effort to hide the behaviour from Maxwell, she said.
Once home, Maxwell insisted on giving Farmer a massage and told her to take off her clothes, Farmer testified. Maxwell “pulled down the sheet and exposed my breasts and starting rubbing on my breasts,” Farmer said.
“It didn’t make sense to me that would happen,” she said. “I so badly wanted to get off the table and have the massage be done.”
Farmer accepted $US1.5 million ($A2.1 million) from a fund set up to compensate Epstein victims, she testified.
Maxwell has been jailed since she was arrested in New Hampshire in July 2020. When she sought bail, Farmer asked the judge to deny it, calling her a “psychopath”.