Ghislaine Maxwell trial: Alleged victim tells of her 'most shameful deepest secrets'

In this courtroom sketch, Ghislaine Maxwell is seated at the defence table while watching testimony of witnesses during her trial. Credit: AP

It is the job of a defence team to discredit the arguments of the prosecution.

Ghislaine Maxwell’s team spent the best part of Wednesday trying and at times succeeding.

In their sights, “Jane”, the woman who claims that as a child she was groomed, repeatedly sexually assaulted and trafficked by Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein.

This photo provided by the New York State Sex Offender Registry, shows Jeffrey Epstein. Credit: AP

She is key to this case, the youngest of the witnesses.

Now a woman in her 40s, an established actor in an American soap opera, her day ended in tears, after hours on the stand seeking to explain and often defend her description of “the most shameful deepest secrets” she says she has carried most of her life.

In the final minutes of her evidence she struggled to speak, her face buried in a tissue, her head propped on her hands.

It had been a rough day under cross examination. The defence repeatedly picked holes in the testimony she gave to the court compared to the descriptions given to government investigators in the past years.

Excerpts were read from those statements. She wasn’t sure Ghislaine Maxwell had ever touched her.

She wasn’t sure Ghislaine Maxwell had ever kissed her. Ghislaine Maxwell had never seen Jeffrey Epstein having sex with her.

Ghislaine Maxwell had never told her what to do to satisfy him.

Ghislaine Maxwell, left, confers with lead defense attorney Bobbi Sternheim. Credit: AP

Such excerpts went on and on, graphic in detail.

They all stood at odds with the descriptions given to the court just hours earlier, all of which had placed Maxwell at the centre of the allegations of abuse.

Jane’s explanation was that in early interviews with investigators she felt unable to speak in detail. “I was in a roomful of strangers telling the most shameful, deepest secrets I had been carrying around with me. I didn’t share it all. It was too difficult emotionally and on every level.”

She went on to tell the court she shared more over time as the trust built and the embarrassment subsided.

By implication they were the interviews the defence had not shared with the court.

A line of people wait to enter the courthouse for the Ghislaine Maxwell trial in New York. Credit: AP

There were other parts much harder to explain. Her description of the first trip with the pair to New York to the opening of Lion King on Broadway.

She said she was 14, it was 1994. Infact the show didn’t open until 1997 when she was 17.

Then there was the sworn and signed evidence submitted in a civil case in 2020.

It was a document she seemed to have little recollection of, yet in it a line which may yet be critical to this case.

It asked had there been any sexual misconduct or unwelcome behavior of a sexual nature been committed by others? In that signed document she asserted, “none”.

Such details from the cross examination will have to be assessed by the jury as they decide on Ghislaine Maxwell’s guilt or innocence.

Towards the end of the day, Jane was questioned about whether she was 13 or 14 when she met the pair.

She admitted she wasn’t sure because it was in summer 1994 and she wasn’t sure if she had passed her birthday or not. She described the discrepancy as “a small technicality”.

There is no such a thing as a small technicality in jury trials. Cases are won or lost on them.