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Wednesday, February 28, 2024
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Timeline trips up Epstein abuse victim on cross-examination

Jurors heard more than a dozen replies of “I don’t recall” and “I don’t remember” Wednesday from a witness who accuses Ghislaine Maxwell of grooming her for sexual abuse that occurred 27 years ago.

MANHATTAN (CN) — The first of four survivors of the Jeffrey Epstein sex ring to take the stand at the trial of his former girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell returned to the witness box Wednesday for a grueling cross-examination after eight hours of direct testimony where she described years of traumatic, underage sexual abuse in lurid detail.

"When you spoke with the government in December 2019, with your lawyers there, you told the government at that time you were not sure whether Maxwell ever touched you during these encounters, correct?" defense attorney Laura Menninger asked the witness.

Jane, 41, who is testifying under a pseudonym, replied that she could did not recall. She gave the same response, or “I don’t remember,” more than a dozen times during cross-examination Wednesday.

“You told the government that you are not sure that Maxwell ever kissed you, correct,” Menninger pressed.

“You told the government Ghislaine never used sex toys or vibrators on you, correct?”

“That's correct,” Jane responded.

During direct testimony on Tuesday, Jane said Maxwell touched her during sexual encounters with Epstein and sometimes other women. "Mainly my breasts," she described.

Menninger attempted to undercut Jane’s direct testimony about interactions with Epstein and Maxwell dating back to 1994 by contrasting them to statements Jane made to the government last year and in 2019, when Epstein was arrested.

"Well, memory is not linear," Jane responded to Menninger.

Repeatedly during cross-examination, Jane questioned the accuracy of the investigation records that Maxwell's defense was referencing.

“This is just someone jotting down notes,” the witness said, suggesting that the FBI’s documents contained “typos.”

In some of these recollections, Jane told the government her memory was foggy on whether Maxwell was present when Epstein molested her and on whether she ever touched her.

On Tuesday, however, Jane offered specifics as she testified about a time that Epstein brought her to New York on his private plane in the mid-1990s to see "The Lion King" on Broadway. She said Epstein had bragged about their mezzanine seats and about knowing the director.

Menninger focused meanwhile on getting Jane to give the year precisely.

“'The Lion King' did not come out until 1997,” Menninger noted, going on to suggest that the government had prompted Jane to say she meant to refer to the 1994 animated Disney movie of the same name instead.

Maxwell’s attorney also prompted Jane on Wednesday to confirm that Epstein had introduced her in 1994 to future President Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago, and that she was once a contestant on the Trump-affiliated Miss Teen USA pageant.

Attacking Jane’s credibility, the attorney questioned why she waited over 20 years to formally report the alleged abuse by Maxwell to law enforcement. Jane explained that she generally avoided the subject of Epstein and Maxwell for years because it was too painful.

At another point, Maxwell's defense invoked Jane’s two-decade career as actress, particularly characterizing her "melodramatic" performance in an unnamed daytime soap opera and asking if she could cry on command.

During the defense’s opening argument on Monday afternoon, attorney Bobbi Sternheim said Epstein’s accusers were not victims but women capitalizing on his intrigue to get payouts from the victim compensation fund created by his estate after the 66-year-old died behind bars in 2019 before he could go to trial

To head off any attack of Jane's motivations, Jane acknowledged Tuesday direct direct examination that she received a $5 million settlement from the victim compensation fund. The exact amount after legal fees and expenses was $2.9 million, Jane clarified.

"I wish I would have never received that money in the first place because of what happened,” she said Wednesday on redirect from the prosecution.

Choking up on the stand, she explained that she hopes she can "finally find some closure to all this."

The defense did not seek a second round of cross with Jane. "Hopefully this all just puts it to an end and I can move on with my life," Jane said at the end of her testimony, wiping away tears with a tissue during the prosecution’s redirect.

Maxwell's arrest in July 2020 came nearly a year to the day that sex-trafficking charges landed Epstein in the Manhattan jail cell where the 66-year-old registered sex offender would be found dead awaiting trial one month later. That death was ruled a suicide.

Maxwell for her part has pleaded not guilty to eight criminal counts in Manhattan federal court: six stemming from the underage sex ring alleged to have operated for decades with Epstein at the helm, and two accusing her of lying during a 2016 deposition.

The criminal trial is expected to run about six weeks into the middle of January 2022.

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Categories / Criminal, Entertainment, Trials

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