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Epstein accuser says Ghislaine Maxwell groped, pressured her into massage


Annie Farmer says she was 16 when wealthy and connected New York financier Jeffrey Epstein bought her a plane ticket to New Mexico in the spring of 1996 under the guise that he could help the high school junior with her college pursuits.

There, Epstein’s sprawling ranch gave way to a desert landscape that reminded Farmer of a Western movie set. While at first it seemed unusual that Epstein and his friend Ghislane Maxwell had invited Farmer, who met the pair through her older sister, an artist in New York, she recounted in testimony Friday that “it made me feel special that they wanted to spend time with me.” They bought her black cowboy boots.

Farmer gave her account of that trip at Maxwell’s child sex-trafficking trial in New York. Farmer, now 42, is the last of four accusers cited in the indictment against Maxwell to testify and the only to waive anonymity.

Annie Farmer looks on as her lawyers speak to the press on July 15, 2019, in New York City.Timothy A. Clary / AFP via Getty Images file

The visit grew uneasy, Farmer told the jury, as Maxwell, who she believed at the time was Epstein’s romantic partner, coaxed her into giving him a foot massage and Maxwell repeatedly asked her if she wanted a massage as well.

Epstein “seemed to be enjoying it and seemed to make groaning noises,” Farmer said, adding, “I felt very uncomfortable.”

Farmer said she felt pressured to partake in a massage, and later relented when Maxwell set up a table. Farmer was topless. At one point, she said, she rolled over and Maxwell rubbed her chest.

She froze. “I wanted so badly to get off the table,” Farmer said.

A door was open, and she “just had a sense” that Epstein was watching, although she didn’t see him.

Farmer is a crucial witness for federal prosecutors, who argue that the 59-year-old British socialite had targeted vulnerable teenage girls and “groomed” them for sex with Epstein and other powerful men. Maxwell is accused of helping Epstein recruit and sexually abuse four underage girls, mostly in the 1990s.

Maxwell has pleaded not guilty to all six charges related to conspiring with Epstein. 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 New York City jail two years ago as he awaited trial on sex trafficking charges.

Farmer previously came forward publicly when she and her sister, Maria, filed separate lawsuits in 2019 and spoke to the media. Maria Farmer said she first met Epstein and Maxwell when she was an art school graduate in New York and they wanted to support her budding career. She introduced the pair to her younger sister, who was living in Arizona and was visiting her in New York in January 1996.

Epstein took the sisters to a movie, where he sat beside Farmer and grabbed her hand and “caressed” her leg, she testified, reading from a diary entry at the time.

She said she tried to justify his actions. “I couldn’t tell anyone else because it is not a big deal and I didn’t want to portray him in a bad light,” she said.

But after her trip to New Mexico, Farmer said she had a brief conversation with her mother to say “something uncomfortable happened.”

“I told my mom I was not raped and I didn’t want to talk about it,” Farmer said.

Maria Farmer alleged in her complaint that she was “violently sexually assaulted” by Epstein and “co-conspirator” Maxwell “while she was working on an art project at Epstein’s guest house” in Ohio in 1996. Maxwell denied any wrongdoing.

The lawsuits were withdrawn in 2020 as part of a deal to accept restitution from a victims’ compensation fund paid out by Epstein’s estate. Annie Farmer testified Friday that she was awarded $1.5 million.

During Maxwell’s bail hearing in July 2020, Farmer gave a statement accusing Maxwell of being a “sexual predator who groomed and abused me and countless other children and young women.”

Maxwell’s lawyer, Laura Menninger, previously wrote in a court filing that Farmer’s “newly asserted memories of abuse” were “without corroboration” and that she was not motivated by “a desire for ‘justice’ so much as her desire for cash.”

During cross-examination on Friday, Menninger made a point to say that Maxwell was not in New York when Farmer would visit and did not pay for or encourage her to travel there, and suggested that Farmer knew Epstein was wealthy and was hoping he would pay for her college.

Menninger also questioned why there were diary entries for her visit to New York, but not to New Mexico, which would make it difficult to help corroborate her memories of the time.

Prosecutors at Maxwell’s trial in the Southern District of New York, now in its second week, could wrap up their case as soon as Friday.

U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan has said she will schedule a charging conference for Dec. 18, which means the jury could get the case before Christmas.

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