A pilot testified on Wednesday that one of Jeffrey Epstein's accusers flew aboard the sex offender's private plane on at least four occasions – three of them with Ghislaine Maxwell.
The testimony of David Rodgers, who served as Epstein's private pilot for 28 years, appeared to back up the account delivered to the jury last week by a woman who is one of the US government's chief witnesses against Maxwell in her criminal sex trafficking trial.
The witness, known as "Jane" to protect her identity, told jurors that she first met Epstein and Maxwell in 1994 when she was 14 years old and attending an arts camp in Michigan. She claimed that he began abusing her soon after, sometimes with Maxwell's participation. Jane also claimed to have flown abroad Epstein's private jets on several occasions, including with Britain's Prince Andrew.
On Wednesday, Mr Rodgers pinpointed those dates, based on a personal flight log he maintained. The first time he met Jane, he said, was on November 11th 1996, when she and Epstein flew from Palm Beach to Teterboro Airport in New Jersey. "She was a passenger on our flight," Mr Rodgers said, adding: "She's flown with Jeffrey Epstein, Ghislaine Maxwell and other people as well."
According to his log book, the trio flew from Teterboro to Santa Fe, New Mexico, where Epstein owned a ranch, on May 9th 1997. In one of the most affecting moments in her testimony, Jane told jurors about an incident at the ranch when she sank into terror one night after Ms Maxwell, she said, ordered her to go to Epstein's bedroom.
The flight log also showed Jane flying on May 3rd 1998 with Epstein, Ms Maxwell and hedge fund manager Glenn Dubin and his wife Eva from Palm Beach to Teterboro, Mr Rodgers said. She was listed again on a March 2001 flight from Santa Fe to Palm Beach.
Ms Maxwell's lawyer, Christian Everdell, sought to discredit Mr Rodgers's recollection on cross-examination, noting that only Jane's first name appeared in his log for the first three flights and that Epstein had an employee with the same first name. But Mr Rodgers, who described ms Maxwell as "very energetic" and having a "great personality", appeared to hold fast.
“I’ve only flown two people with that name and the second person I only met in September 2003, so it couldn’t have been her,” he replied.
Mr Rodgers said that he did not believe at the time that any of the women who flew unaccompanied on Epstein’s planes were under the age of 18 and that he had not witnessed anything that led him to believe that sexual behaviour had occurred aboard.
The flight logs are relevant not only to establish Jane’s credibility but also because the sex trafficking charges against Ms Maxwell allege that she helped transport girls across state lines for Epstein to abuse.
Ms Maxwell has denied any wrongdoing. Her lawyers have claimed that Jane and other witnesses were motivated by payouts from a victim compensation fund, or had misremembered events.
The logs showed another prominent Epstein accuser, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, on at least 32 flights. Ms Maxwell was also present for many of those flights.
On Wednesday, a former boyfriend of another accuser told jurors how he had repeatedly driven her to Epstein’s house to provide sexualised massages, starting when she was 14. She would emerge about an hour later, he said, with hundred dollar bills.
“She was a child,” said the man, identified only by his first name, Shawn.
Shawn also testified that his then-girlfriend, Carolyn, had told him about a woman with an English accent at Epstein’s house who helped arrange some of the sessions.
Carolyn, who dropped out of school in seventh grade, called her “Maxwell”, he said, because “she couldn’t pronounce [Ghislaine] ... It was foreign to her.”
Ms Maxwell faces more than 70 years in prison if convicted on all counts. The charges against her include sex trafficking, sex trafficking conspiracy and charges related to facilitating the travel of minors for sexual acts.
The prosecution is expected to rest its case this week. – Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2021