'You opened the door to hell': Ghislaine Maxwell faces victims in court

·33 min read
Ghislaine Maxwell sarah ransome
Ghislaine Maxwell sarah ransome

Ghislaine Maxwell has been described as a predator, monster and a dangerous and devious individual in victim impact statements read to the court ahead of her sentencing for sex abuse crimes.

Eight women, including Virginia Roberts Giuffre, Annie Farmer and a British woman called 'Kate' have detailed how the socialite and long-term partner of Jeffrey Epstein destroyed their lives.

Six were expected to address her directly, while two were doing so through statements read by lawyers. Not all of the women were named in the indictment.

This is what they said.

Annie Farmer

Annie Farmer - Timothy A Clary/AFP via Getty Images
Annie Farmer - Timothy A Clary/AFP via Getty Images

This is the full victim impact statement by Annie Farmer, which she is expected to read in court:

Judge Nathan,

For a long time, I wanted to erase from my mind the crimes that Ghislaine Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein committed against me and pretend they hadn’t happened.

Beyond my initial description to my boyfriend and family of what occurred when I was with them in New Mexico, I didn’t talk about it for years.

It was the type of dark memory that feels safest to keep locked away, and so I did the best I could.

The world did not co-operate with this strategy, however.

Something would bring to mind this experience and my body would respond with an upset stomach and physical shakiness.

I’d feel irritable, have trouble focusing, and feel disoriented. In recent years, I have been asked repeatedly to describe these crimes to law enforcement and the media, and I have learned heartbreaking details about the ways Maxwell and Epstein abused and exploited so many others.

Focusing on these experiences that I tried so hard to avoid thinking about has forced me to acknowledge the many ripple effects of their crimes for myself and my family and the continued impact of these long-ago events on my life.

One of the most painful and ongoing impacts of Maxwell and Epstein’s abuse was a loss of trust in myself, my perceptions, and my instincts.

When predators groom and then abuse or exploit children and other vulnerable people, they are, in a sense, training them to distrust themselves.

When a boundary is crossed or an expectation violated, you tell yourself: “Someone who cares enough about me to do all these nice things surely wouldn’t also be trying to harm me.”

This pattern of thinking is insidious, so these seeds of self-doubt took root even as I learned my sister had also been harmed by them, and came to find out years later that many others had been exploited.

For years these memories triggered significant self-recrimination, minimisation and guilt. I blamed myself for believing these predators actually wanted to help me.

Annie Farmer - Netflix
Annie Farmer - Netflix

I felt tremendous survivor guilt when I heard what other girls and young women had experienced at the hands of Maxwell and Epstein.

I saw how my sister’s concern about me weighed on her and felt guilty about this as well. This toxic combination of being sexually exposed and exploited, feeling confused and naive, blaming myself, all resulted in significant shame.

That sickening feeling that makes you want to disappear. It was not constant, but would come in waves, similar to the waves of anxiety that would also show up.

When I think back, I see a slideshow of moments when these feelings would surface and overwhelm me.

I remember sitting at my desk in a Houston hospital physically shaking after seeing the photo of Maxwell with Virginia Giuffre and Prince Andrew because it became clear to me how their scheme had continued; the time an unexpected security screening from a TSA agent who patted down my chest with the back of her hand left me crying and disoriented at the airport; a 40th birthday gathering where I broke down crying telling the story to some friends for the first time.

There are too many of these moments to name, and though I have come a long way in my path of healing, I know that these feelings will continue to be triggered at times.

The ripple effects of trauma are undeniable, when one person is abused, many others are harmed.

In addition to the way I was impacted as an individual, there was the pain I experienced as a sister due to how Maria was abused by Maxwell and Epstein, and the harm caused to the rest of my family due to these events.

My sister’s abuse – the sexual assault, Maxwell’s threats that stole her sense of safety and her career, the way they used her to get to me – had devastating effects on her and as my family watched her grow more isolated and more physically ill from the stress of all of it, we all felt powerless.

It was heartbreaking and infuriating, and we later learned how often this pattern was repeated. A young person on the path of pursuing her dreams was pulled in by Maxwell, was abused and exploited, and then had to try to piece together a life in the aftermath of this trauma that left them feeling distrustful and fearful.

Most of these individuals had families who were also negatively impacted as they witnessed and felt the systemic effects of their loved one’s losses and struggles.

Annie Farmer - Reuters/Jane Rosenberg
Annie Farmer - Reuters/Jane Rosenberg

The number of people harmed is impossible to measure. Maxwell had many opportunities to come clean, but instead continued to make choices that caused more harm.

When my sister and I first spoke out to the media about what happened to us, Maxwell lied about us and threatened Maria, thus helping shut down investigations into Epstein’s behaviour so they could together continue to harm children and young women.

After this attempt to alert people to Epstein and Maxwell’s abusive behaviour, I avoided being public about it for almost two decades.

My shame told me that I should hide this fact because it was embarrassing. Later, as I pursued my profession as a psychologist, I feared it could potentially ruin my career.

I worried clients would not want to work with me if I was associated with this story wrongly labelled as one of “child prostitution”. I feared being on Epstein and Maxwell’s radar because of their previous lies and threats.

Once arrested, Maxwell faced another choice. She could admit her participation in this scheme, acknowledge the harm caused or even provide information that could have helped hold others accountable.

Instead, she again chose to lie about her behaviour, causing additional harm to all of those she victimised.

For me, it meant having to be involved in this nearly two-year legal process that involved reliving this painful experience over and over again.

It was incredibly stressful and interrupted my professional life as I missed sessions with my clients for court appearances, trial prep, and meetings with attorneys.

An uncertain and shifting trial schedule made it difficult to plan anything.

As the trial date drew closer, I scaled back my caseload, as I wasn’t sure how it would impact me and how much work I’d have to miss.

Then, during the trial, my memories were repeatedly called into question, and I was publicly grilled on the details of the trauma she perpetrated.

Given the shame and self-doubt that these injuries had already caused, this all felt like a retraumatisation – one that could have been easily avoided had she told the truth.

Judge Nathan, I hope when you consider the appropriate prison sentence for the role Maxwell played in this sex trafficking operation, you take into account the ongoing suffering of the many women she abused and exploited as we will continue to live with the memories of the ways she harmed us.

I hope you weigh the systemic effects of the crimes she perpetrated – the ways that our family members, romantic partners, and friends have been hurt through our suffering.

I ask you to bear in mind how Maxwell’s unwillingness to acknowledge her crimes, her lack of remorse, and her repeated lies about her victims created the need for many of us to engage in a long fight for justice that has felt like a black hole sucking in our precious time, energy, and wellbeing for much too long now.

These things cannot be replaced.

Juliette Bryant

Juliette Bryant
Juliette Bryant

This is the full victim impact statement by Juliette Bryant, which will be considered by the court in a written format:

Simply put, Ghislaine Maxwell is a monster.

Ever since she and Jeffrey Epstein got their hands on me, I have never felt OK.

Thinking about them still gives me frequent panic attacks and night terrors.

All of the victims, including myself, are eternally grateful for everyone that has helped expose these criminals.

I appreciate Your Honour imposing the maximum sentence available.

‘Kate’

This is the full victim impact statement by the accuser known as “Kate”, which she is expected to read in court:

I began writing this statement on Mother’s Day because it has been my experience that it was only in becoming a mother to a daughter that gave me the courage and impetus to speak out about the abuse I had suffered and made me understand the gravity and horror of what had taken place.

It was, in fact, when my daughter was about one or two that I reached out to attorney Brad Edwards and began to tell him the full extent of the heinous manipulation and abuse, instigated and perpetuated by Ghislaine Maxwell.

From the very first conversation, I was emphatic that Ghislaine was the true enabler and facilitator of my abuse.

It has been proven to be true for me – and for many survivors of this kind of grooming and insidious abuse with whom I have spoken – that the experience of looking at my own baby girl and imagining her falling victim to such atrocities awakened compassion in me for myself as a young girl and for the many, many others who suffered because of Ghislaine Maxwell.

It was this experience that fuelled a call to action.

It was the very skilled grooming, perpetrated on me, intentionally and consistently, that instilled in me the belief that I could not say no to Ghislaine Maxwell or Epstein.

I witnessed on numerous occasions, over many years, Ghislaine Maxwell trying to recruit other girls and making consistent and insistent demands on me and others to do the same.

I witnessed her relentless and insatiable drive to meet the sexual needs of Epstein at any cost to the vulnerable girls and women upon whom she preyed and fed to Epstein and other powerful men, to whom she wished to ingratiate herself.

There was never any ambiguity or doubt about her having full knowledge of what was to take place once she recruited girls.

The many acts that were perpetrated on me by Epstein, including rape, strangulation and sexual assault, were never consensual and would have never occurred had it not been for the cunning and premeditated role Ghislaine Maxwell played.

She repeatedly reinforced rewards for acquiescence and consequences for disobedience.

Being around her was like being spun really fast in a circle and then trying to maintain balance.

It was like a rollercoaster ride, designed to disorient and disempower me as a vulnerable, young girl for the sole purpose of providing me to Epstein for sexual abuse.

The best way to imprison someone is to make them create the prison bars in their own mind, to instil enough fear to make sure they never risk leaving or disobeying, and make the bars invisible to everyone so that no one can see their cage or hear their silent screams.

The consequences of what Ghislaine Maxwell did have been far-reaching for me.

I have struggled with, and eventually triumphed over, substance use disorder.

I have suffered panic attacks and night terrors, with which I still struggle.

I have suffered low self-esteem, loss of career opportunities.

I have battled greatly with feeling unable to trust my own instincts in choosing romantic relationships.

I have had a hard time identifying dangerous people or situations.

I have also suffered periods of disassociation.

At the age of 45, at 19 years of continuous sobriety and, after many years of engaging in different modalities of therapy, I am beginning to see some light in deprogramming my own mind and body from the messages I was programmed with because of this abuse.

What happened to me at that young age changed the course of my life drastically forever.

Speaking out about what happened to me opened me up to much criticism and forced me to relive parts of my story that I would have preferred to have done privately in the safety of trusted individuals.

Testifying in this trial was both terrifying and re-traumatising.

I do not, however, regret it for one moment.

There is nothing more important than protecting the innocent and, if I was able to provide, in any way, information helpful to understanding the nature of this type of abuse, as perpetrated by Ghislaine Maxwell, then my pain has had meaning and therefore not been for naught.

I remain in deepest gratitude to the other women who came forward and to those who, for whatever reason, didn’t or couldn’t.

I remain in deepest gratitude to the prosecutors who worked tirelessly to bring Ghislaine Maxwell to justice, to protect the women who testified and to expose the grotesque malice with which these crimes were committed.

I remain in deepest gratitude to the people of the jury – who gave up their time and energy to be part of this great judicial system – that saw a fair trial was executed.

I remain in deepest gratitude to Judge Nathan for presiding so cautiously, fairly and deliberately.

I remain in deepest gratitude to my partner, friends and family, who tirelessly supported me through this unnatural and traumatic time.

Finally, I remain in deepest gratitude to my attorneys Brad Edwards and Brittney Henderson, without whom this trial may never have come about.

To them I would like to say: thank you for listening when no one else would.

Thank you for never giving up on fighting for what is right.

Special thanks to Brad Edwards for showing me that good men exist and fight for what is right, no matter the cost.

In becoming a mother, I have learned that forgiveness is important, but so are consequences.

Maria Farmer

Maria Farmer - Netflix
Maria Farmer - Netflix

This is the full victim impact statement by Maria Farmer, which will be considered by the court in a written format:

My life was on a trajectory to be a well-known and well-respected artist when I was derailed by Ghislaine Maxwell.

I was studying with the phenomenal artists Eric Fischl and Chuck Close, while doing art for director James Brooks when I was held captive and assaulted by Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell on the Wexner estate in 1996.

I was freshly graduated from a Master’s programme in art – something I worked towards all of my life.

Ghislaine began threatening my life and destroying my livelihood following my return from being falsely imprisoned at Wexner’s.

She wasn’t happy just destroying my career, she also assured me my future was destroyed and she did everything in her vast power to accomplish this goal. She threatened my family and friends.

I have severe PTSD and two cancers as a result of my forced solitude, poverty and quality of life while in hiding.

The shame I associated with my art following Ghislaine’s abuse was overwhelming.

I stopped painting. The thing is, this was never my shame to carry.

I was a figurative artist doing what artists do, paint. The beholders of my art, Epstein and Maxwell, perverted it into what they wanted.

The art was always pure and beautiful, something I now recognise. Ghislaine, Epstein and Wexner are the ones who should have carried the shame for perverting what was beautiful.

It should be known that Ghislaine’s impact on my life cannot be understated.

Once she gleaned from Vicky Ward (Vanity Fair) that I went to the FBI, my life no longer belonged to me.

Aside from living in poverty and obscurity, I have also now had to face public scrutiny as a whistleblower.

I am bullied regularly.

Ghislaine changed everything for the worse.

She seemingly derailed me without thought, after I got in her way.

She assured me that I could be killed walking down my favourite path in NYC [New York City].

I never feel safe outside as a result of the massive trauma from being held captive by Wexner’s thugs via Ghislaine and Jeffrey.

Her threats have never left my mind and I believe she will harm me if she ever has a way.

Please keep this in mind when determining her terms of imprisonment.

She is a very dangerous and devious individual.

Teresa Helm

Teresa Helm - Reuters/Carlo Allegri
Teresa Helm - Reuters/Carlo Allegri

This is the full victim impact statement by Teresa Helm, which she is expected to read a shortened version of in court:

Ghislaine Maxwell, I was 22 years old when you entirely derailed the trajectory of my life.

You made a choice to view me as an individual less than you. You saw me as an object whose only purpose was to be manipulated, used, abused, regarded as trash, and sent back from where I came.

You meticulously convinced me through your deceptive charm and conversation that you were someone worthy of my bright and inspired young mind to look up to.

You crafted your impact on me. You groomed me. Then, you sent me off to another monster. I trusted you.

You had groomed me so well, I unsuspectingly walked myself to the home of that monster.

I walked myself to the home of that predator that hurt me. You manipulated and betrayed me into feeling and believing that I was safe.

One of the most devastating outcomes to you hurting me is how I then began to view and treat myself.

I began to view myself as unworthy of love. I began treating myself as the garbage I was regarded as.

My life got so dark, the despair so intense, I nearly did not make it out alive. Do you even remember me?

I am on the outside of prison walls. Freedom. Yet, I will forever fight for the freedom that you callously stole from me.

Teresa J Helm. Remember my face. Hear my voice. Remember my name.

Virginia Roberts Giuffre

Virginia Roberts Giuffre - Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg
Virginia Roberts Giuffre - Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg

This is the full victim impact statement by Virginia Roberts Giuffre, which she is expected to read in court:

Your honour, my name is Virginia Roberts Giuffre. For more than two years, from age 16 to 19, I was abused by Ghislaine Maxwell.

Before I begin, I want to acknowledge and profusely thank the police, FBI investigators, prosecutors and judges who have invested their time and integrity in this case to hopefully set a precedent for victims and the hunters who prey upon them.

Now, if it pleases the court, I would like to address my victim impact statement directly to Ghislaine Maxwell.

Ghislaine, 22 years ago, in the summer of 2000, you spotted me at the Mar-a-Lago Hotel in Florida, and you made a choice. You chose to follow me and procure me for Jeffrey Epstein.

Just hours later, you and he abused me together for the first time. Together, you damaged me physically, mentally, sexually, and emotionally.

Together, you did unthinkable things that still have a corrosive impact on me to this day.

I want to be clear about one thing: without question, Jeffrey Epstein was a terrible paedophile. But I never would have met Jeffrey Epstein if not for you.

For me, and for so many others, you opened the door to hell.

And then, Ghislaine, like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, you used your femininity to betray us, and you led us all through it.

When you did that, Ghislaine, you changed the course of our lives forever. You joked that you were like a new mother to us.

As a woman, I think you understood the damage you were causing – the price you were making us victims pay.

You could have put an end to the rapes, the molestations, the sickening manipulations that you arranged, witnessed and even took part in.

You could’ve called the authorities and reported that you were a part of something awful.

The Duke of York, Virginia Roberts Giuffre and Ghislaine Maxwell
The Duke of York, Virginia Roberts Giuffre and Ghislaine Maxwell

I was young and naive when we met, Ghislaine, but you knew that. In fact, you were counting on it.

My life as a young person was just beginning. You robbed me of that by exploiting my hopes and ambitions.

Ghislaine, the pain you have caused me is almost indescribable. Because of your choices and the world you brought me into, I don’t sleep. Nightmares wake me at all hours.

In those dreams, I relive the awful things you and others did to me and the things you forced me to do.

Those memories will never go away. I have trouble meeting new people without questioning if somehow they are going to hurt me, too.

I don’t allow my children to stay over at friends’ houses, or to walk down the street alone.

I don’t trust anyone to be near them without me or my husband close by.

I am hyper-vigilant, because I know that evil exists. You taught me that.

There is not a day that goes by that I don’t ask “Why?” Why, Ghislaine, did you enjoy hurting us so much?

I worry every single day and night that you will get away with it and evade being punished.

I will worry about that until you are brought to justice. And what should that justice look like?

Ghislaine, you deserve to spend the rest of your life in a jail cell. You deserve to be trapped in a cage forever, just like you trapped your victims.

But, Ghislaine, I want you to know that, while you tried to break me, you didn’t succeed.

Despite you, I have grown into a woman who tries to do good in the world – a woman who, on her best days, feels like she is making a difference.

My promise to you is as follows: As long as you and perpetrators like you continue to prey upon the vulnerable, I will not stop standing up and speaking out.

Together, with so many others you abused, we will do all we can to keep predators from stealing the innocence of children.

I will never give up. I will never go away. If you ever get out of prison, I will be here, watching you, making sure you never hurt anyone else again.

Thank you, your honour.

Sarah Ransome

Sarah Ransom - AP Photo/John Minchillo
Sarah Ransom - AP Photo/John Minchillo

This is the full victim impact statement by Sarah Ransome, which she is expected to read a shortened version of in court:

It has been a long journey to bring Maxwell to justice.

Sadly, the accurate count of victims will never be known.

My book, Silenced No More, chronicles it as a “journey to hell and back”.

Although I have escaped the hellish trap set by Epstein, Maxwell and others, I continue, now 17 years later, to suffer from the horrific trauma it caused.

I came to New York at age 22, wanting to start my life over after an incredibly abusive relationship.

I hoped to attend FIT [Fashion Institute of Technology] and work in the fashion industry.

Soon after arriving, I met an Epstein/Maxwell recruiter named Natalya Malyshev in a club.

She befriended me and, soon after that, arranged for me to meet Jeffery.

She described him as a kind philanthropist who could help me get into FIT and provide much-needed support, something which was alien to me.

Over the next seven to eight months, I became, against my will, nothing more than a human sex toy with a heartbeat and soul for the entertainment of Epstein, Maxwell and others.

Sometimes I was subjected to sexual predation multiple times per day, both in his New York mansion and on his private island, St Little James in the US Virgin Islands.

On one visit to the island, the sexual demands, degradation and humiliation became so horrific that I tried to escape by attempting to jump off a cliff into shark-infested waters, but was caught by Maxwell and company moments before jumping.

At the time, the extremely risky escape seemed more appealing than being raped one more time.

As the evidence at the trial of Ms Maxwell proved, and my own experience confirms, Maxwell was Epstein’s right-hand woman.

She was the manager of several recruiters and many others who provided the means and cover for Epstein’s predation.

In several instances, Ghislaine by her own hand forced me into Epstein’s room to be raped.

Epstein and Maxwell were masters at finding young, vulnerable girls and young women to exploit.

Upon targeting a vulnerable girl/young woman, they would ingratiate themselves to her, giving her compliments and small gifts, telling her how special she was.

They would tell her that Epstein was a very wealthy, generous man whose primary purpose was to help the less fortunate.

He and Maxwell were sophisticated, worldly adults with deep ties to important people, world leaders and institutions who could give her the lifeline she needed to make her dreams reality.

However, soon after lulling me and others into a false sense of comfort and security, they pounced, ensnaring us in their upside-down, twisted world of rape, rape and more rape.

Like Hotel California, you could check into the Epstein-Maxwell dungeon of sexual hell, but you could never leave.

Ghislaine by her own hand forced me into Epstein’s room to be raped.

The manipulation, intimidation, and emotional abuse used to control the victims took many forms.

In my case, Epstein and Maxwell used my damaged upbringing, naivety, lack of a long-term visa, lack of education and my desire to go to FIT to manipulate and ensnare me.

Once ensnared, to pacify and keep me they told me that I was exceptionally intelligent and that I had real potential to be someone and something in life, that my dreams of making my family one day proud of me were achievable and that Epstein and Maxwell’s strong ties to FIT could make this happen.

With their help, my admission was almost assured.

“But”. There was always a “but”. First, I had to write my application, which I did, but Maxwell had to review it and conveniently always found fault.

Then another “but” – I needed to lose 30 pounds because I was a “piglet” (Maxwell’s numerous degrading descriptions of me).

Epstein and Maxwell put me on a strict Atkin’s diet while simultaneously sending me to a psychiatrist who prescribed anti-depressants – among other drugs I did not need – that caused weight gain.

It was a classic no-win situation and they knew it – precisely what human traffickers seek.

I never lost the weight, my application was never good enough, and it never got submitted.

I thank almighty God that, in 2007, I managed to escape the horror by fleeing for my life to the UK.

Since then, I have been coping with the daily all-consuming fear that someday Epstein and Maxwell would harm me, my loved ones and my family, as Epstein repeatedly told me would happen if I ever dared to leave.

I frequently experience flashbacks and wake up in a cold sweat from nightmares reliving the awful experience.

I am hyper-vigilant, experience dramatic mood changes and avoid certain places, situations and people. I will sometimes start crying uncontrollably and without apparent reason.

I have worked hard with several mental health professionals who have diagnosed me with extreme symptoms of anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, PTSD, and tendencies to self-harm.

Despite my earnest effort, I have not realised my God-given potential professionally or entered healthy personal relationships.

I have never married and do not have children, something I always wished for, even as a little girl.

I shy away from strangers and have difficulty making new friends because I fear they could be associated with Epstein, Maxwell and the enablers.

To this day, I attend AA [Alcoholics Anonymous] meetings but I have had numerous relapses and know that only by the grace of God do I continue to live.

I have attempted suicide twice since the abuse – both near-fatal.

Last year, I travelled internationally to New York to attend Maxwell’s trial.

That was both therapeutic and traumatising.

It was therapeutic to hear the testimony of the four brave victim-witnesses, whose experiences paralleled my own, to know that I was not alone and that our story was finally being told for the world to hear.

But it was also traumatising to relive the experience and flashbacks and the nightmares have increased.

I am grateful that the jury believed the victims and returned a guilty verdict.

But a question still tears at my soul: after all of this, how can the manager of this enormous sex trafficking conspiracy involving so many co-conspirators that snared 100s if not 1,000s of vulnerable girls and young women over three decades continue to maintain her innocence?

Who and what institution enabled this sex trafficking ring to continue?

Why haven’t the institutions and important people that enabled them been exposed and brought to justice?

Reflecting on it, I know the answers to my questions.

Maxwell is today the same woman I met almost 20 years ago – incapable of compassion or common human decency.

Because of her wealth, social status and connections, she believes herself beyond reproach and above the law.

Sentencing her to the rest of her life in prison will not change her, but it will give other survivors and I a slight sense of justice and help us as we continue to work to recover from the sex-trafficking hell she perpetrated.

She will never, ever hurt another young woman or child in this lifetime.

For that, I am sure.

As for the important, high-profile enablers – governmental institutions, politicians, and very wealthy friends of Epstein/Maxwell here and abroad – so far their stature and power have protected them.

I hope that one day they will be exposed and we will be able to say that the United States truly is governed by the rule of law and not by powerful people.

To Ghislaine, I say: “You broke me in unfathomable ways but what you didn’t break is my spirit, nor did you dampen my internal flame that now burns brighter than ever before.”

Elizabeth Stein

Elizabeth Stein and Sarah Ransome - AP Photo/John Minchillo
Elizabeth Stein and Sarah Ransome - AP Photo/John Minchillo

This is the full victim impact statement by Elizabeth Stein, which she is expected to read a shortened version of in court:

I came to New York in 1991 at the age of 18 to attend FIT [Fashion Institute of Technology] and immediately began to excel academically.

While at FIT, I took advantage of different volunteer opportunities and internships in the fashion industry to provide a foundation for my career.

In my sophomore year, I accepted a Christmastime internship at Henri Bendel, New York.

I performed well and was asked to stay on as a part-time employee. I worked at Henri Bendel until graduation.

In the fall semester of my senior year at FIT Ghislaine Maxwell came into the store, where she was a frequent customer.

Her usual salesperson wasn’t there so I helped her. Ghislaine was electrifying and we hit it off immediately.

In this first meeting, we spoke of our mutual love of fashion, of difficult fathers and formal upbringings, of boyfriends and of how we both saw New York as a chance to start over.

She told me that her boss (who I later came to understand was Jeffrey Epstein) was close friends with Les Wexner, the CEO and founder of The Limited, which owned Henri Bendel at the time.

When she completed her purchases, I offered to deliver them to her so she didn’t have to carry them around all day.

This was a courtesy I frequently extended to my high-end clients. Later that day, I called her office for delivery instructions and was told to bring them to the Pierre Hotel close by the store.

When I arrived, the hotel concierge told me Ms Maxwell was in the bar and wanted me to meet someone. It was Jeffrey Epstein.

That night in the hotel was the first of many times they sexually assaulted me.

Afterwards, I tried to pretend everything was normal. I returned to my classes at FIT and continued work at Henri Bendel, but I started to crack.

I failed a course that was necessary for my degree and had to retake it to get my diploma.

Shortly after my first meeting with Epstein and Maxwell, I was offered a full-time position at Henri Bendel. It was a newly created position at the store, and it would have required me to leave FIT a semester short of completing my degree.

I had aspirations of going to law school and knew I could not do so without my undergraduate degree, so I declined it.

When Ghislaine found out she flew into a rage. I didn’t understand why until she told me that she and Epstein were responsible for giving me that opportunity and that in turning it down I was being ungrateful.

I now know this was their modus operandi – give a gift or favour and then demand sex in return.

Nevertheless, I rebuffed the guilt-trip ploy, completed my coursework and got my FIT degree from FIT, at which point I left Henri Bendel and took a position at Bloomingdales.

I wanted to leave Epstein and Maxwell and the abuse they perpetrated against me behind as I started my professional life. I never wanted to or expected to see them again.

One day in the fall of 1995, Maxwell showed up at Bloomingdales, looking for me.

When I asked her how she knew where I was, she said she asked my colleagues at Henri Bendel.

She immediately began befriending me once again, asking me to go out socially.

I tried to resist, but eventually she wore me down and I began spending time with them again.

They made me feel like they were friends, contemporaries.

In one instance they took me to Florida, insisted that I stay longer than planned which caused me to miss work and led to my being fired.

Seizing on this new vulnerability, they began trafficking me to their friends. By that time I was trapped.

I was assaulted, raped and trafficked countless times in New York and Florida during a three-year period.

At one point I became pregnant (by whom I am unsure) and aborted the baby.

Things happened that were so traumatising that to this day I’m unable to speak about them; I don’t even have the vocabulary to describe them.

In the most literal sense of the word, Epstein and Maxwell terrified me.

They told me that if I told anyone, nobody would believe me and if they did, they would kill me and the people closest to me. I believed them. I was once bright, fun, outgoing and kind.

I loved life and people genuinely enjoyed being around me. After meeting Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell, it felt like someone shut off the lights to my soul.

My secrets became too much for me to handle and I began doing whatever I could to try to get away from Maxwell and Epstein. I changed jobs, apartments, cities and even states to try to get away.

Everywhere I went, they found me. In 1997, I moved to Philadelphia with the hopes of finally starting law school.

They found me again and it was more than I could take. I was hospitalised with a nervous breakdown.

It would be the first of over two dozen hospitalisations in the decades following my involvement with Epstein and Maxwell.

In addition to my escalating mental health problems, I began to experience physical symptoms that doctors could never quite put their finger on. I received dozens of diagnoses but nothing ever quite fit.

I could no longer even pretend to be able to hold down a job or take care of myself in any meaningful way, and I had to move home once again.

Emotionally I cracked, and nobody thought I would ever get better. But I did not give up.

I was determined to do whatever I had to, to prove everyone wrong. I wasn’t crazy, I was hurt.

For over a decade and a half, I went to all kinds of medical specialists and was in and out of medical and psychiatric hospitals having tests and procedures, even submitting to clinical trials and an experimental implantable medical device.

Nothing helped.

In 2007, I moved back to Philadelphia to try once again to sort out my life. I began working as a paralegal again and started preparing to take the LSATs. I found a psychiatrist, physician and therapist who were willing to help me get to the bottom of things.

I had tried almost every psychological intervention possible in my efforts to get better, but my new psychiatrist suggested something I had not tried before, dialectical behavioural therapy [DBT].

Just as I began to repair the emotional damage, I was diagnosed with complex regional pain syndrome [CPRS] and was primarily bedbound for over a year. CRPS is a rare neuroinflammatory disorder characterised by intense, relentless physical pain.

Both CRPS and PTSD are psychophysical states in which the sympathetic nervous system is engaged and remains inappropriately hyper-aroused.

There is no cure. The mind and body are interconnected.

Despite all of this, I immersed myself in DBT and repaired my emotional health. I began physical therapy and regained my physical mobility. I started to rebuild my life.

The arrests of Epstein and Maxwell in 2019 and 2020 respectively helped me immensely. For the first time, I was finally able to disclose their abuse to close friends and medical providers.

Twenty-five years after meeting them, my experience was validated. I could finally see the possibility of closure.

This past November and December, I commuted almost every day from my home in Philadelphia to attend Ghislaine Maxwell’s trial in Manhattan.

For weeks I sat in the courtroom anonymously, only revealing my identity the day before the verdict. I had to see justice for myself.

At the age of 48, I feel as if I’m just starting my life. All those things I assumed I would have in life, the things that my siblings and friends have achieved: a career, success, a partner, family, a home, a legacy to be proud of leaving behind were jeopardised for more than two and a half decades.

The only pronounced difference between my life experience and theirs is that one day, when I was doing my job I met Ghislaine Maxwell who fed me to Jeffrey Epstein.

In more ways than one, they almost killed me. But I wasn’t going to let them.

Overcoming what happened to me became my decades-long, full-time career. In that, I have been successful.

For the past 25 years, Ghislaine Maxwell has been free to live a life of wealth and privilege that is almost incomprehensible.

Meanwhile, I have had virtually none of the life experiences I might have had, had we never met.

For over two and a half decades I felt like I was in prison. She had her life. It’s time to have mine.

She needs to be in prison so her victims can all finally be free.

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