This article was originally published in December 2021, after Ghislaine Maxwell was found guilty on five sex trafficking-related counts.
During Ghislaine Maxwell's three-week sex trafficking trial, the jury saw a massage table being brought into the courtroom, accusers breaking down on the stand and even Jeffrey Epstein's bank statements.
The prosecution convinced the jury of its case against Ghislaine Maxwell, meticulously detailing its assertions that she trafficked minors to be sexually abused by Jeffrey Epstein.
The jury was presented with 21 witnesses, dozens of photographs and hundreds of pages of evidence in what was dubbed “the trial of the century.”
Here are some of the highlights:
1) Jeffrey Epstein’s pilot: I saw nothing
At first things started well for the defence. The first witness was Paul Visoski, Epstein’s private pilot for more than 30 years. Along with David Rodgers, they flew the financier more than 1,000 times across the globe, sometimes at just a couple of hours notice on a plane which has become known as the “Lolita Express.”
Called by the prosecution at the very start of the case, he was expected to be one of their most compelling witnesses. But then he took the stand. “I never saw any sexual activity on the plane,” he testified.
And then came the kicker: Not once did he see anyone who he thought was under the age of 20 who wasn’t with their parents on board. He did remember flying Prince Andrew, though.
The prosecution attorneys looked baffled. Maxwell relaxed into her seat.
2) Donald Trump, Prince Andrew and a 14-year-old girl called Jane
It was not until the third day that the first accuser entered the witness box.
Jane, now an actress, said she first met Jeffrey Epstein when she was 14. Then the names started dropping.
Were you driven to Mar a Lago to meet Donald Trump? Yes. Were you on Epstein’s jet with Prince Andrew? Yes. Did you have group sex with Epstein and other women when you were 14, 15 and 16? Yes.
Jane didn’t claim any wrongdoing by Prince Andrew or Donald Trump - only that she had met them. But she did claim wrongdoing by Maxwell, who she said joined in with Epstein during some of the abuse.
The prosecution attempted to paint a picture of an alleged victim changing her story to include accusations against the British socialite only after the late financier's death in 2019.
They also found holes in her timeline. Maxwell still looked relaxed, taking the time to chat with her sister Isabel who has supported her in court every day.
3) The Household Manual
“See nothing, hear nothing, say nothing” the instructions read.
A 58-page household manual given to employees at Epstein’s Palm Beach mansion by Ms Maxwell was painstakingly detailed and incredibly demanding.
No job was too small: each of Epstein’s cars had to have a $100 bill in the glove box or centre console.
Tubes of toothpaste must always be at least half full.
Never speak to guests unless spoken to first and respond to compliments by saying you “enjoy doing it.”
Some things weren’t mentioned in the handbook, but were expected of the staff.
Housekeeper Juan Alessi likened his work there to “slavery.” He recalled cleaning up the massage room after Epstein had been in there.
Putting on rubber gloves, he picked up a large sex toy, washed it under the sink, dried it and placed it in a wicker basket in Maxwell’s wardrobe on top of a pile of pornographic films, where it belonged.
4) Meeting Virginia Roberts
Virginia Roberts has accused Jeffrey Epstein of sexual abuse and trafficking her to be abused by his friends, including Prince Andrew - who denies the allegations.
She is not an accuser in this case, but her name has been mentioned nearly every single day.
On day four, Mr Alessi explained how Maxwell made him stop the car when she saw the young blonde girl walking down a ramp at Mar a Lago dressed in a long white uniform.
Maxwell jumped out, took her into the spa and re-emerged minutes after. Hours later, Virginia Roberts appeared at Epstein’s home for the very first time. Ms Roberts was 16 at the time. Mr Alessi thought she looked younger - “probably 14 or 15,” he said.
5) Naming accusers who should have been anonymous
There is a second Jeffrey in this trial: Mr Pagliuca, defence attorney for Ms Maxwell.
Judge Alison Nathan has allowed women who were victims of Epstein to testify under a pseudonym to protect their identities. Jane and Kate have done that, while Carolyn - her true first name - has asked that her surname not be mentioned. (Annie Farmer has waived her anonymity.)
On the fourth day, Judge Nathan reminded all parties not to say Jane’s real name out loud, ahead of Mr Pagliuca reading a passage which included it.
“Don’t worry, I have it blacked out on all my copies,” he said, referring to the documents in front of him.
And then he said her real name. He was embarrassed and then admonished, but in another moment of recklessness he did it again - telling the court, the press and members of the public Carolyn’s surname.
He has come in for much criticism, with other lawyers saying it is a betrayal of trust and may prevent victims coming forward in the future if they feel they cannot be protected.
6) The massage table is brought in
In the most visually dramatic production of physical evidence, Jeffrey Epstein’s massage table - seized from his Palm Beach mansion - was brought into the courtroom and unfolded in front of the jury.
The green leather table with light brown legs and silver studs was the exact one on which the financier is alleged to have abused underage girls.
As it was unfolded last Friday evening, just before the jury left for the weekend, Maxwell squirmed in her seat just feet away.
7) The British witness: Epstein’s abuse in London
On Monday (day six of the trial) a British woman using the pseudonym Kate entered the witness box.
Calm and compelling, she took the court and the jury through the exact way she says she was groomed by the British socialite.
Aged 17, she was told by Maxwell that Epstein “would love” her.
Weeks later she met Epstein at Maxwell’s Belgravia home and was asked to give him a foot rub.
On her next visit to the house, she says Ms Maxwell led her into a room where Epstein was standing naked beside a massage table. Maxwell shut the door. Epstein sexually abused Kate.
In the following months Kate said she was flown to Epstein’s Palm Beach mansion and asked by Maxwell to wear a schoolgirl outfit to serve him tea.
Afterwards, she alleged Maxwell told her: "You're such a good girl, I'm so happy you were able to come." Defence lawyers barely made a dent in any of her claims, and it felt like the pendulum had started to swing towards the prosecution.
8) Epstein and Maxwell: In pictures
Just how close were Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell? The defence has tried to put some distance between the two: She had her own houses, access to her own private jet and dated someone else in the early 2000s.
Then the prosecution produced photographs copied from a CD seized at Epstein’s New York townhouse.
There is kissing. There is cuddling. There are romantic getaways. There is one of Maxwell lounging on a yacht in her bikini. There are several of her massaging his feet on a private jet, her cleavage spilling out of her top.
And there is one taken at Balmoral, the Queen’s Scottish estate, where Epstein and Ms Maxwell have been hosted by Prince Andrew.
Along with the bank transfers, the flight logs and the testimony of the Palm Beach housekeeper who said they were together “95 per cent of the time,” the prosecution again came out strong.
9) Carolyn: Maxwell and Epstein abused me at 14
Aged 14, Carolyn hung around with her friends in West Palm beach, smoking marijuana and drinking.
When her friend Virginia Roberts said she could make easy money by giving massages to a nearby “friend” the money was too good to turn down.
Once she arrived at Epstein’s home, she said she was greeted by Maxwell, who told Ms Roberts to "bring her upstairs and show her what to do."
Carolyn visited Epstein’s mansion more than 100 times in four years. By the time she was 18, Epstein asked if she had any younger friends. “That’s when I realised I was too old,” she said in court.
Later, she claimed that the British socialite “came in and felt my boobs and my hips and my buttocks and said I had a great body for Mr Epstein and his friends.”
The testimony was emotional, the cross-examination confrontational.
Yes, Carolyn was a former drug addict and yes, she has a criminal record. Asked why she handed a police officer a bag of drugs at a traffic stop, the response came: “Because I’m an idiot.”
She endeared herself to the jury with her authenticity.
After Mr Pagliuca tried to dismantle her timeline and say she was motivated by cash, she snapped back. “Money will not ever fix what that woman did to me,” she said, looking at Maxwell.
Carolyn left the courtroom in tears. Kevin Maxwell, Ghislaine’s brother, had his head in his hands.
10) Follow the money: Epstein’s $30m transfers
For years, the source of Ghislaine Maxwell’s vast wealth has been shrouded in mystery. On day six, with the expert guidance of a JP Morgan executive armed with copies of Epstein’s bank records, the picture became much clearer.
In three transactions over the course of eight years, Epstein directly wired more than $30 million to the British socialite, the jury heard. One transaction, in October 1999, was of $18.3 million.
In 2007, she used a transfer of $7 million to buy a helicopter. The numbers were jaw dropping and showed just how umbilically linked the two were during that time.
11) Annie Farmer: Maxwell groped me - I was frozen
It was a telling sign of how things appeared to be going that Maxwell had her arms crossed when the jury entered the courtroom on the tenth day of the trial.
The final accuser to appear in the witness box was Annie Farmer, who has spoken on record before about how she was groped by Epstein and his girlfriend.
Clear and concise, her claims of being inappropriately touched in a cinema were supported by contemporaneous diary entries from 1996.
When asked if anyone in the room had ever given her a massage, Ms Farmer pointed to Maxwell, who shuffled uncomfortably in her seat.
She went on to claim that the British socialite told her to undress and then groped her breasts. "I was frozen. I wanted so badly to get off the table and for it to be done.” Ms Farmer was 16 at the time.
As she gave her testimony, Maxwell’s brother Kevin once again had his head in his hands."