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'I didn't know how to say no': Ghislaine Maxwell accuser testifies in court

"Kate" said that for one encounter she was asked to don a "schoolgirl outfit" while she served Jeffrey Epstein tea.
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A second woman who says Ghislaine Maxwell “groomed” her for sex with Jeffrey Epstein testified Monday that for one of the encounters she was pressed to wear a “schoolgirl outfit” while she served him tea.

“I didn’t know how to say no,” the woman, identified in court as Kate, testified at Maxwell’s sex trafficking trial in New York City. “I had never been to Palm Beach or Florida before. I had no idea where the house was. And I wasn’t sure if I said no if I would have to leave or what the consequence would be for not doing it.”

Kate, who says she was 17 when Maxwell recruited her in Paris to give Epstein massages that soon turned into sexual encounters, testified on day six of Maxwell’s much-anticipated sex trafficking trial.

Maxwell, Kate said, dazzled her with glamour and told her Epstein could help her with her musical career. She said Maxwell boasted that she was friends with future President Donald Trump and Britain's Prince Andrew.

“She told me lots of amazing things about her boyfriend, that he liked to help young people and it would be great to meet him,” Kate said of Maxwell. “She said I would love him. I was lonely, and she seemed like she had a lot of connections.”

Image: Ghislaine Maxwell trial in New York
Witness "Kate" is questioned by prosecutor Lara Pomerantz during the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell, left, in New York on Monday. Jane Rosenberg / Reuters

Kate, who is now 44, told the court she wound up having sexual encounters with Epstein at his homes in New York City and London and on his private island in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Unlike the previous accuser, who has been identified by the pseudonym Jane and who said she flew on Epstein’s private planes, Kate said Maxwell arranged for her to travel on commercial flights.

A former model and musician, Kate said she had hoped to stay friends with Maxwell but lost contact with her around age 24.

Kate is one of the four underage girls Maxwell is accused of helping Epstein recruit and sexually abuse, mostly in the 1990s.

Previously, Jane told the court that she was just 14 when Maxwell taught her how to sexually satisfy Epstein and that they trafficked her to other powerful men.

However, in this case, U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan stipulated to the jury that Kate was over the age of consent when the first alleged sexual contact with Epstein occurred, so it was not illegal.

But Nathan said prosecutors could use Kate’s testimony to corroborate the patterns of Maxwell’s and Epstein’s alleged behaviors described by other witnesses.

On cross-examination, Kate said she came from a well-off London family and that her stepfather had a private plane. She said she dated older men and admitted, “As long as I can remember I was ambitious.”

Kate also admitted she stayed in touch with Epstein even after he was convicted in 2008 of procuring a person under 18 for prostitution and other charges. She acknowledged sending him pictures and emails while he was in a private wing of a Florida county jail and signing them, “Love always, Kate.”

Maxwell, 59, a British socialite, has pleaded not guilty to all  six charges against her. Her defense team contends that she is being prosecuted because the government cannot go after Epstein, a convicted sex offender who hanged himself in a Manhattan lockup two years ago while awaiting trial for sex trafficking.

“Ever since Eve was tempting Adam with the apple, women have been blamed for the bad behavior of men,” defense attorney Bobbi Sternheim said in her opening statement. “She is not Jeffrey Epstein. She is not like Jeffrey Epstein.”

Prosecutors, however, contend that Maxwell played a key role in procuring women for Epstein, a multimillionaire financier who was close to Ohio billionaire Leslie Wexner, buddies with Trump and Prince Andrew, and friendly with other boldface names, like former President Bill Clinton. There are no allegations of trafficking against Clinton, Trump and Wexner.

Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who isn’t part of this case, has alleged in a civil lawsuit that Maxwell trafficked her to Prince Andrew when she was 17. He has denied the allegations.

Jane testified last week that she was 14 when Epstein introduced her to Trump. She did not allege any improper behavior by the ex-president.

Kate was followed on the stand by FBI Special Agent Kelly McGuire of the Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force. She guided the jury through photos of Epstein’s Manhattan mansion, including shots of the private massage room where prosecutors allege that many acts of sexual assault took place.

Also, apparently to show just how much Epstein trusted Maxwell with his money, prosecutors had JPMorgan Chase executive Patrick McHugh testify that Epstein transferred $30.7 million to Maxwell over eight years. 

Maxwell’s trial in the Southern District of New York is expected to go on for at least five more weeks.