Ghislaine Maxwell trial: British woman says accused groomed her for abuse

Maxwell's siblings write to US Attorney General Merrick Garland asking authorities not to shackle her

Ghislaine Maxwell, front, in a photo with her siblings, who are asking US Attorney General Merrick Garland for their sister to be given soap and extra food during her trial. AP

A British woman who says Ghislaine Maxwell groomed her for abuse by late financier Jeffrey Epstein when she was a teenager testified on Monday that she initially looked up to the socialite as "everything that I wanted to be".

The woman, "Kate", is the second of four women cited in a 2021 indictment of Ms Maxwell to take the stand at Epstein's former companion's sex abuse trial in Manhattan Federal Court. The trial began last week and is set to last into January.

Kate said she was 17 and struggling to make friends after moving to Britain from France when she met Ms Maxwell for tea at her London townhouse in 1994.

Ms Maxwell offered to introduce her to her boyfriend, who she said could help with her aspiring music career, said the British woman, now 44.

"She seemed to be everything that I wanted to be," said Kate. "I left there feeling exhilarated and like somebody wanted to be my friend."

The woman described one episode during the mid-1990s at Epstein’s Palm Beach, Florida estate where Ms Maxwell left out a schoolgirl’s outfit for her to wear for the financier.

“I thought it would be fun for you to take Jeffrey his tea in this outfit,” the witness recalled Ms Maxwell telling her.

After a sexual episode followed, the British socialite “asked me if I had fun” and told Kate, “You are such a good girl,” the woman said.

Ms Maxwell is on trial for recruiting and grooming four girls for Epstein to abuse between 1994 and 2004. Epstein died in jail in 2019 while awaiting trial on sex abuse charges.

The witness was the second woman to take the witness stand against Ms Maxwell.

Unlike the first, she was at the age of consent in the UK and the US during her contact with Epstein, so the judge barred her from detailing specific acts.

Meanwhile, Ms Maxwell's siblings again complained about the conditions under which their sister has been held for the past 17 months, saying her health is suffering and she is being prevented from mounting an adequate defence.

Judge Alison Nathan has rejected several requests for bail, due to concerns that Ms Maxwell would flee.

Her family wrote to the UN last week and are now appealing directly to the US Attorney General, Merrick Garland.

They have asked for improved treatment of their sister, “in the interest of justice and common humanity to change the shocking daily regime which Ghislaine is subject to during her trial”.

They want authorities to stop using four-point restraints to shackle her hands, waist and feet when she is moved from a holding cell to the courtroom, and demand that she receive a food pack and a bar of soap each day.

The family also asked that she be allowed to meet her lawyers for at least 30 minutes before and after each day’s proceedings.

Agencies contributed to this report

Updated: December 6th 2021, 11:33 PM