A woman testified that when she was 16-years-old Ghislaine Maxwell gave her a nude massage, as the government on Friday rested its sex trafficking case against the British socialite and former Jeffrey Epstein confidante.
Annie Farmer told jurors she had been a high school student eager to talk about university plans while visiting Epstein’s ranch in New Mexico when Maxwell suggested a massage. She disrobed at Maxwell’s direction, Farmer said. After some time, Maxwell pulled down a sheet, she added, and began to rub the upper part of her breasts.
“I was very uncomfortable and fearful and wanted to get off the table,” Farmer recalled on Friday, occasionally sobbing.
She also testified that Epstein climbed into bed with her on the trip, prompting her to take refuge in the bathroom, and that Maxwell showed her how to massage his feet. “He seemed to be enjoying it. He made groaning noises,” Farmer recalled.
Farmer had gone on the weekend trip believing that it was a group event for promising students funded by Epstein, David Mulligan, her high school boyfriend, testified. “But she told me when she arrived she was the only girl there,” Mulligan recalled.
Farmer told the FBI in 2006 that “Epstein or Maxwell” was responsible for cancelling her older sister’s trip to the ranch that weekend at the last minute, essentially leaving her isolated and vulnerable.
She was the last of four women accusers to take the stand against Maxwell during a two-week government case that has featured often harrowing testimony. Prosecutors are seeking to prove that Maxwell helped groom girls, some as young as 14, for Epstein to sexually abuse. In some instances, prosecutors also say she participated.
Maxwell has denied wrongdoing. Her lawyers have accused the government of trying to make her a scapegoat for Epstein, who died by suicide in a New York jail cell after his arrest in July 2019. They have also claimed that the government’s witnesses are seeking a financial “jackpot”, as Bobbi Sternheim, one of Maxwell’s lawyers, put it.
The four accusers include an American soap opera actress, an aspiring British singer, a single mother with a drug problem and Farmer, a psychologist. All grew up in circumstances where their father was not present, either because of death or divorce. They were also, to varying degrees, financially strapped, they testified.
Farmer is the only one of the four accusers to use her full name in court. Her testimony was not part of the criminal charges against Maxwell because she met the legal age of consent in New Mexico — 16 — during the relevant period. Still, her account was consistent with a pattern that prosecutors have established with other accusers: promises of patronage by Epstein led to social outings with him and Maxwell that soon veered into adult and sexualised situations.
Farmer met Epstein through her older sister, Maria, who worked for him as an artist in New York City, she said. He paid for her to fly from Arizona for a Christmas visit in 1995. In her teenage diary, she recalled the delight of seeing The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway and drinking champagne at Epstein’s mansion. But she also expressed unease at his behaviour when the trio went to the movies. Epstein, she testified, began caressing her hand and rubbing her leg while her sister sat on his other side.
“It was a little weird. One of those things that’s hard to explain,” she wrote in a diary entry from January 7, 1996 that was shown to the court. She added: “I think he’s just a relaxed guy and likes to flirt or was being fatherly or something. I know this sounds like me trying to justify him doing something weird, but it isn’t.”
Epstein repeated the behaviour, more blatantly, Farmer said when she went to the movies with him and Maxwell during the New Mexico trip in April. She would later scold herself, Mulligan testified, for not having the courage to report the abuse. She was fearful, he said, that doing so would jeopardise her sister’s job with Epstein.
On cross-examination, Laura Menninger, Maxwell’s attorney, established that there was no mention of her client in Farmer’s diaries. She also confirmed that Farmer had kept a pair of cowboy boots that Epstein had bought her during the trip, and continued to wear them over the years — suggesting her experience had not been so traumatic.
She did not wear them to work, Farmer said, but she allowed: “I did wear them when I went two-stepping.”