Prosecution rests at Ghislaine Maxwell trial after fourth accuser testifies

Ms Annie Farmer is questioned by defense attorney Laura Menninger during the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell, in a courtroom sketch in New York City, on Dec 10, 2021. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (NYTIMES) - Testifying at Ghislaine Maxwell's sex trafficking trial on Friday (Dec 10), a woman said that while on a trip to Jeffrey Epstein's New Mexico ranch in 1996 when she was 16, Maxwell directed her to undress and lie down for a back massage.

"She pulled the sheet down and exposed my breasts and started rubbing on my chest and on my upper breasts," the woman, Annie Farmer, 42, testified.

"I was surprised. I wanted so badly to get off of the table."

Ms Farmer's testimony about the encounter came on the tenth day of the trial in US District Court in Manhattan.

Not long after she finished testifying, prosecutors said they were resting their case.

Maxwell has been charged with recruiting and grooming girls for illegal sex acts with Epstein.

She faces up to 70 years in prison if she is convicted of all six counts against her.

She has denied the charges, and her lawyers indicated that they planned to present a defence when the trial resumes on Thursday.

The testimony from Ms Farmer was prosecutors' last chance to present evidence of what they say shows how Maxwell helped Epstein draw in vulnerable girls.

For the defence, Ms Farmer's testimony offered another opportunity to try to distance Maxwell from Epstein's alleged acts in hopes of convincing jurors that she is being tried as a proxy for Epstein, who died in jail in 2019 while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.

Ms Farmer said she first met Epstein in 1995 when he bought a plane ticket for her to fly from Arizona, where she attended high school, to New York City, where her older sister, Maria, worked for him.

Ms Farmer said she and Epstein spoke on the phone two or three times after the visit.

Then, in 1996, he flew her to his ranch in New Mexico, where she first met Maxwell.

At one point, she testified, Maxwell instructed her on how to give Epstein a foot massage.

She did so, she testified, despite feeling uncomfortable. "I did not want to be touching his feet," she said.

Ms Farmer testified that she also recalled waking up in the morning to find Epstein "bounding into the room in this playful way, saying he wanted to cuddle".

On cross-examination, one of Maxwell's lawyers, Ms Laura Menninger, asked whether Ms Farmer had once "told prosecutors and the government" she did not remember Epstein's "cuddle" as sexual in nature.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.