Ghislaine Maxwell 'was there' during Epstein abuse and acted 'like it was no big deal', court hears

ITV News US Correspondent Emma Murphy has the latest details from the court room

An alleged victim of Jeffrey Epstein has told a court she had repeated sexual contact with disgraced financier when she was 14-years-old and that Ghislaine Maxwell was there when it happened.

The witness, using the pseudonym Jane, was the first of four alleged victims to testify against Maxwell at a New York City trial where she facing charges she recruited and groomed girls for Epstein to sexually abuse from 1994 to at least 2004.

Maxwell has pleaded not guilty to sex trafficking charges.

Jane told the court Epstein pleasured himself in front of her, saying: "I was frozen in fear. I’d never see a penis before... I was terrified and felt gross and felt ashamed."

Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell Credit: AP

Another time, she was taken to a massage room where he and Maxwell both took advantage of her, she said.

Other encounters involved sex toys or turned into oral sex “orgies” with other young women and Maxwell, Jane added.

During cross-examination, the witness was asked why she waited 20 years to report the alleged abuse by Maxwell.

Earlier in the day, a longtime pilot for Epstein told the trial he had never seen evidence of sexual activity while flying planes for the financier.

The pilot did, however, name some of the rich and famous guests to have flown on board over a nearly three decade period - including Prince Andrew, Bill Clinton and Donald Trump.

Prince Andrew says he does not regret his friendship with Epstein. Credit: BBC News

Lawrence Paul Visoski Jr., the trial's first witness, was responding to questions by a defence lawyer when he said he had never seen sexual activity aboard two jets he piloted for roughly 1,000 trips between 1991 and 2019.

The pilot said, however, that he stayed in the cockpit for the majority of flights - though would sometimes emerge to go to the bathroom or get coffee. Although he was called as a witness by the government, Visoski's testimony seemed to aid the defence of Maxwell as he answered questions posed by Maxwell attorney Christian Everdell about what he saw when he straightened up the aircraft after a flight.

What else did Mr Visoski tell the court?

  • Mr Visoski said he ever saw sexual activity and "absolutely" didn't witness any sex acts with underage females. He also said he had never found sex toys or condoms after landing.

  • Epstein never warned him to stay in the cockpit during flights, the pilot said, adding that he was encouraged to use a bathroom near the rear of the plane that would require him to walk past the plane's couches.

  • He said he never saw any children on his planes who were not accompanied by their parents.

  • When asked about a teenager who prosecutors say was sexually abused by Epstein before she became an adult, Mr Visoski said he believed she was “mature” when he was introduced to her.

  • The pilot acknowledged that he had piloted Prince Andrew, John Glenn - a late US senator and first American to orbit earth - as well as former presidents Donald Trump and Bill Clinton.

  • Asked about "the actors Kevin Spacey and Chris Tucker," Mr Visoski said: "Yes, I remember them as well".

  • Epstein gave Mr Visoski 40 acres of land to build a house on the financier's New Mexico property and paid for his daughters' college education, the pilot said.

Ghislaine Maxwell Credit: PA

Epstein’s plane was derisively nicknamed “The Lolita Express” by some in the media after allegations emerged that he had used it to fly teenage girls to his private island, his New Mexico ranch and his New York City townhouse. Flight records, made public as part of civil litigation, also showed that Epstein had used the plane to fly celebrities, influential academics and politicians around the globe. Luminaries who flew with Epstein have had to beat back speculation that their presence on the flights meant they must have been aware of the millionaire’s crimes.

Clinton, like others who took rides from Epstein, has said he was unaware of any misconduct.

Prince Andrew was friends with Ghislaine Maxwell for many years and he also had a friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein that he terminated in 2010.

The Duke of York has always categorically denied any wrongdoing and claims made by Epstein victim Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who says she was trafficked to London to have sex with the prince.

Sarah Ransome, an alleged victim of Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell, arrives at the court house Credit: AP

Asked by Assistant US Attorney Maurene Comey where Maxwell stood in the hierarchy of Epstein's world, Visoski said Maxwell “was the Number Two.”

He added that “Epstein was the big Number One.” The testimony supports what Assistant US Attorney Lara Pomerantz told jurors in her opening statement on Monday when she said Epstein and Maxwell were “partners in crime.” Pomerantz said Maxwell recruited and groomed girls for Epstein to sexually abuse from 1994 to at least 2004. Maxwell has pleaded not guilty and one of her lawyers said in an opening statement on Monday that she’s being made a scapegoat for Epstein, who killed himself in his Manhattan jail cell aged 66 in August 2019 as he awaited a sex trafficking trial.

The trial continues.