Ghislaine Maxwell, depicted in a courtroom sketch, sits as the jurors are sworn in at the start of her trial on charges of sex trafficking © REUTERS
NEW YORK, Nov 30 (Reuters) - A woman accuser of Ghislaine Maxwell testified on Tuesday that the British socialite and deceased financier Jeffrey Epstein first approached her when she was in summer camp at the age of 14.
The testimony from the woman, known by the pseudonym Jane, came on the second day of Maxwell's sex-abuse trial in Manhattan federal court.
ane said Maxwell and Epstein first approached her and a group of friends while they were eating ice cream at an arts summer camp in Michigan in the summer of 1994. Jane was a singer, but she said her family was struggling financially after her father's death the prior year.
Jane testified that Epstein and Maxwell told her that they were benefactors of the camp and gave many students scholarships. They asked for Jane's mother's number, which Jane said she provided.
After camp ended, Epstein invited her and her mother over for tea, Jane said, adding that she was later invited by Maxwell and other Epstein employees to come on her own.
On one of those occasions, Jane testified that Epstein offered to help her with her singing career before ending the conversation abruptly.
"He just took my hand and said follow me," Jane said.
Epstein took her to the pool house and pulled down his pants, Jane testified.
"He pulled me on top of himself and proceeded to masturbate on me and then he got up and went into the bathroom and cleaned himself up," Jane said. "I was terrified and felt gross and I felt ashamed."
In opening statements, a defense attorney for Maxwell described Jane as a talented singer who received Epstein's financial assistance. The attorney said Jane never accused Maxwell of wrongdoing before Epstein died and told the jury to listen for "internal inconsistencies" in Jane's testimony.
Epstein died by suicide in a Manhattan jail cell in 2019 while awaiting trial on sex-abuse charges.
Reporting by Luc Cohen in New York; Editing by Noeleen Walder and Alistair Bell