A Ghislaine Maxwell accuser says she was recruited and abused when she was just 14

The jury in the federal sex-trafficking trial of Ghislaine Maxwell heard its first testimony Tuesday, including from a woman who says Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein sexually abused her when she was a minor.

A pilot who flew Jeffrey Epstein’s private jets also took the stand on Tuesday, saying that over the years, his passengers included Maxwell’s accuser as well as rich and powerful guests such as former presidents Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, as well as Britain’s Prince Andrew and the late Sen. John Glenn.

The female accuser, using the pseudonym Jane, is the first of four women who are expected to speak in court about their allegations of sexual abuse. She told jurors she was just 14 years old when Maxwell and Epstein introduced themselves to her at an arts and music camp in Michigan.

Jane later visited Epstein’s home in Palm Beach, Fla. — one of several locations where she says both Epstein and Maxwell repeatedly sexually abused her.

Jane said the abuse took place over several years: “It ruined my self-esteem, my self-worth,” she said, according to reporter Adam Klasfeld of the Law & Crime website.

In questioning Jane, prosecutors depicted Maxwell as insinuating herself into the young woman’s life, grooming her for Epstein’s abuse. But Maxwell’s defense team pressed the accuser on why it took years before she accused Maxwell of abusing her. And they noted that through a civil lawsuit, she was awarded $5 million from a fund that compensates Epstein’s victims.

The defense team’s cross-examination of Jane continued Wednesday, with Maxwell’s attorney Laura Menninger asking questions that tested the accuser’s memory.

At one point, Menninger asked Jane if Epstein had introduced her to Donald Trump — to which Jane said yes, he had, according to Klasfeld.

Unlike other Epstein accusers, Jane also said she had not been asked to have sex with any of the disgraced financier’s friends or associates.

The trial is not being televised or streamed online. And while a video feed from the courtroom is being shown in an adjacent overflow room, attendees are barred from photographing or broadcasting the proceedings.

Larry Visoski, who testified on Tuesday, piloted the plane that was later nicknamed the Lolita Express after allegations emerged about Epstein and the young women with whom he often traveled.

Visoski told the court he never saw signs of sex on the plane, and he said the young women he saw seemed to be of age. But he also affirmed prosecutors’ view of the overall power dynamic, calling Maxwell “the No. 2” to Epstein’s “big No. 1.”

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.