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Prosecution Rests at Ghislaine Maxwell Trial After 4th Accuser Testifies

Testifying at Ghislaine Maxwell’s sex-trafficking trial on Friday, a woman said that while on a trip to Jeffrey Epstein’s New Mexico ranch in 1996 when she was 16, Ms. Maxwell directed her to undress and lie down on her stomach for a back massage.

Then, the woman said, Ms. Maxwell asked her to roll over.

“She pulled the sheet down and exposed my breasts and started rubbing on my chest and on my upper breasts,” the woman, Annie Farmer, 42, testified. She said she was surprised and wanted “badly to get off of the table.”

Ms. Farmer’s testimony about the encounter came on the 10th day of the trial in Federal District Court in Manhattan. Not long after she finished testifying, prosecutors said they were resting their case.

Ms. Maxwell has been charged with recruiting and grooming girls for illegal sex acts with Mr. Epstein. She faces up to 70 years in prison if she is convicted of all six counts against her. She has denied the charges, and her lawyers indicated that they planned to present a defense when the trial resumes on Thursday. They have not said whether their client will testify.

The testimony from Ms. Farmer, the fourth accuser to testify at the trial, was prosecutors’ last chance to present evidence of what they say shows how Ms. Maxwell helped Mr. Epstein draw in vulnerable girls: taking interest in their lives, plying them with charm and money to lower their defenses, and then pushing them into sexual encounters.

For the defense, Ms. Farmer’s testimony offered another opportunity to try to distance Ms. Maxwell from Mr. Epstein’s alleged acts in hopes of persuading jurors that she is being tried as a proxy for Mr. Epstein, who died in jail in 2019 while awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges.

Ms. Farmer was the first of the four accusers who have testified in Ms. Maxwell’s trial to do so under her full name.

She has spoken publicly before, to reporters and in court. After Ms. Maxwell was arrested in July 2020, Ms. Farmer read a statement to the judge overseeing the case, Alison J. Nathan, urging her to deny Ms. Maxwell bail. “She is a sexual predator who groomed and abused me and countless other children and young women,” Ms. Farmer then told the judge, who ordered Ms. Maxwell detained.

On Friday, Ms. Farmer, who has a Ph.D. in educational psychology and works primarily as a therapist, testified crisply during a vigorous cross-examination by the defense.

Ms. Farmer said she first met Mr. Epstein after Christmas in 1995 when he bought a plane ticket for her to fly from Arizona, where she attended high school, to New York City, where her older sister, Maria, worked for him.

“She had said that Epstein was interested in possibly helping me with my education and this was one of the reasons that he was purchasing the ticket,” Ms. Farmer testified, referring to her sister.

Ms. Farmer said she found Mr. Epstein down to earth and easy to talk with. He bought the sisters tickets for “The Phantom of the Opera,” she said, and had his driver take them to the theater.

On another night, Ms. Farmer said, Mr. Epstein took the sisters to the movies and sat between them. When the lights went down, she testified, Mr. Epstein inched his hand over to hers, interlocking their fingers. He caressed her hand and rubbed her foot and leg, she said, but stopped whenever he interacted with her older sister.

“I was very nervous and anxious,” she testified, adding that she felt “sick to my stomach.”

Ms. Farmer described the episode in a journal entry she wrote a few weeks after returning to Arizona, from which she read excerpts on the witness stand.

“It was a little weird,” Ms. Farmer wrote, only to reverse herself a few lines later, saying it was “probably normal” and adding, “Oh well, I decided it was no big deal.”

The handwritten journal entries from January 1996, which were displayed for the jury, painted a picture of a teenager both enamored of New York City and conflicted about an uncomfortable encounter with an older man she had hoped to impress.

“I know this sounds like me trying to justify him doing something weird, but it isn’t,” she wrote.

Ms. Farmer said she and Mr. Epstein spoke on the phone two or three times after the visit. Then, in the spring of 1996, he flew her to his ranch in New Mexico, where she first met Ms. Maxwell.

Ms. Farmer recalled that Ms. Maxwell had not seemed surprised to see her. “She had a British accent and she was well spoken and articulate and she was enthusiastic in greeting me,” Ms. Farmer said.

She testified that Mr. Epstein and Ms. Maxwell had taken her shopping and bought her a pair of black leather cowboy boots. They also saw a movie, where Mr. Epstein once again touched her.

At one point, after they returned to the ranch, she testified, Ms. Maxwell instructed her on how to give Mr. Epstein a foot massage. She did so, she testified, despite feeling uncomfortable. “I did not want to be touching his feet,” she said.

She said that she also felt uneasy and fearful when Ms. Maxwell touched her breasts during the massage.

Ms. Farmer testified that she also recalled waking up in the morning to find Mr. Epstein “bounding into the room” in a “sort of playful way” and saying “he wanted to cuddle.”

He crawled into her bed and lay behind her, pressing his body into hers, she testified. “He kind of had his arms around me,” she said, adding that she felt “kind of frozen.”

Telling him that she needed to use the bathroom, she shut the door and kept it closed. “I remember thinking I wanted to be in there long enough that hopefully this situation would be over,” she said.

Asked by a prosecutor, Lara Pomerantz, whether she had told Mr. Epstein that she did not want to cuddle, she said she had not because she felt very isolated at the ranch.

On cross-examination, one of Ms. Maxwell’s lawyers, Laura Menninger, suggested that Ms. Farmer may not always have regarded her experiences with Mr. Epstein and Ms. Maxwell as abusive. Ms. Menninger asked whether Ms. Farmer had once “told prosecutors and the government” she did not remember Mr. Epstein’s “cuddle” as sexual in nature.

Ms. Messenger also cited Ms. Farmer’s application to a compensation fund created for Mr. Epstein’s victims, noting that Ms. Farmer had indicated on an application form that she had been abused in New York and New Mexico.

“Hand holding is sexual abuse?” Ms. Menninger asked.

Ms. Menninger also cited Ms. Farmer’s testimony that Ms. Maxwell had massaged her chest and upper breasts, while she had told the compensation fund that her breasts had been “groped.”

Ms. Farmer replied that she did not see the two descriptions as being significantly different.

Prosecutors also presented two witnesses on Friday who supported Ms. Farmer’s testimony. David Mulligan, 42, a former high school boyfriend, said that Ms. Farmer had told him when they began dating around 1996 about her encounters with Ms. Maxwell and Mr. Epstein, including how Ms. Maxwell had touched her breasts during the massage.

“She told me that she felt fearful and awkward and helpless,” Mr. Mulligan testified.

Ms. Farmer’s mother, Janice Swain, 71, testified that when she asked Ms. Farmer in 1996 what had happened on the trip to New Mexico, her daughter had been evasive, refusing to discuss it.

“I don’t want to talk about it and I’m just not going to let it ruin my life,” Ms. Swain recalled her daughter telling her.

Ms. Farmer said she never spoke with Ms. Maxwell again after the trip, and lost touch with Mr. Epstein that fall when she returned to school. She never described the New Mexico trip in her journal, and struggled in the years that followed to make sense of what had happened.

At one point in her testimony, Ms. Farmer tried to explain to the jury why she kept the cowboy boots Mr. Epstein bought her. For a while, she said, she shoved them to the back of her closet, but around late 2006, when she was living in Texas, she changed her mind.

As she recalled on Friday, Ms. Farmer said to herself, “I’m going to reclaim them.”

Lightly pumping her left fist in the witness box, she said she was going to “use these boots.”

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