NEW YORK (AP) — Prosecutors completed presenting their case against Ghislaine Maxwell on Friday, after a key accuser at the British socialite’s sex-abuse trial testified that Maxwell and her companion, Jeffrey Epstein, forced themselves on her when she was just 16.
Annie Farmer told jurors she accepted an invitation to the financier’s sprawling New Mexico ranch in 1996 hoping that Maxwell and Epstein would help her with academic endeavors. Maxwell, she claimed, ended up massaging her breasts while Epstein, she claims, climbed into her bed unpermitted.
Two weeks ago, the trial began with three other witnesses who claimed Maxwell had recruited them to perform Epstein massages in a scheme for sexual abuse.
Maxwell (59) has refuted the charges that she groomed girls under age for Epstein. Epstein died in prison in 2019. According to Maxwell’s attorneys, the government has made her an accomplice in sex crimes by Epstein. They moved quickly for a judgement of acquittal immediately after Friday’s rest.
U.S. District judge Alison J. Nathan heard only brief arguments before rejecting Maxwell’s demand that she acquit Maxwell. The case was never tried by the jury.
According to the judge, the jury will hear the defense case on Thursday. An attorney had estimated that it would take between two and three days. The judge has suggested that closing arguments — at a trial originally projected to last six weeks — might occur as early as Dec. 20 if the defense presentation next week only lasts 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.”
At the beginning of Farmer’s testimony, a prosecution asked Farmer if anyone had ever given her massage. Farmer answered that Maxwell was there, looking over 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.
Zwei of the other testimonies stated that Maxwell participated in some encounters when they were 14-years old.
Farmer said that Epstein met her when she was 16, while on a trip to New York City to see her older sister. Epstein worked at the 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.
Epstein held her hand during a movie outing and hugged her.
“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 theater, I didn’t want to be alone with him.”
Maxwell had been there when she was first feeling more at ease, said Maxwell. 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 behavior from Maxwell, she said.
Maxwell insistently gave Farmer a massage when he got home. Farmer also testified that Maxwell told Farmer to get off her clothes. 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.”
According to testimony, Farmer was paid $1.5million from Epstein victims compensation funds.
New Mexico had no age limit for consent, but it did have laws that criminalized any sexual contact with a minor younger than 13.
A defense lawyer repeated her assertions that Maxwell did not engage in the most severe behavior as described by Farmer. She also elicited from Farmer that Farmer wasn’t sure that Maxwell was naked during her massage but was positive that her breasts had been exposed.
Prosecutors also called Farmer’s former boyfriend and her mother as witnesses to support her testimony.
David James Mulligan, 42, testified that Farmer told him that she was “touched on the breast” when she was massaged in New Mexico.
“She told me that she felt fearful and awkward and helpless,” he said.
Janice Swain, 71, Farmer’s mother, testified that Epstein told her before the New Mexico trip that her daughter would be joined by 20 to 25 other students there.
Swain said when Farmer arrived home from the trip, she was “quiet and withdrawn.” When Farmer finally did say something at a later date, she said: “I don’t want to talk about it and I’m not going to let it ruin my life,” the mother recalled.
Unless someone comes forward, The Associated Press won’t identify anyone who says they were sexually abused by the Associated Press. Although Farmer wasn’t identified in court records, she was open about her experience in interviews with ABC News and The New York Times.
Maxwell was in prison since she was arrested in New HampshireJune 2020. When she sought bail, Farmer asked the judge to deny it, calling her a “psychopath.”
Are you looking for assistance? Visit RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online HotlineOder the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.