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What Happened on Day 3 of the Ghislaine Maxwell Trial

By the end of her testimony on Wednesday, the first accuser to take the stand in the sex-trafficking trial of Ghislaine Maxwell was crying into a bundle of tissues.

During several hours of cross-examination of the witness, identified only as “Jane,” a defense attorney for Ms. Maxwell asked questions that sought to cast doubt on the story that Jane had shared a day before: of a troubled family and financial situation that left her vulnerable to abuse by the notorious sex offender Jeffrey Epstein and Ms. Maxwell, who is accused of luring teenage girls for Mr. Epstein to abuse.

Jane is now a working actress, and the lawyer for Ms. Maxwell, Laura Menninger, appeared to suggest that Jane’s testimony was just another performance, and that she was motivated by financial gain.

Later, when Alison Moe, a federal prosecutor, had an opportunity to question Jane again, Ms. Moe asked her what it meant to be awarded $5 million from a fund set up to compensate victims of Jeffrey Epstein’s sexual exploitation.

“I wish I would have never received that money in the first place,” Jane said, crying. “Hopefully this just puts it to an end and I can move on with my life,” she added.

Three more accusers are expected to testify against Ms. Maxwell, whose trial began on Monday in Federal District Court in Manhattan. Ms. Maxwell, a longtime companion of Mr. Epstein, was arrested in 2020, about a year after Mr. Epstein hanged himself in a Manhattan jail cell. He had also been charged with trafficking girls.

Here are some takeaways from the third day of the trial:

Ms. Menninger began her cross-examination with questions about Jane’s applications to attend the Interlochen summer camp in Michigan. She read from a recommendation that said Jane and her two brothers, who also attended the camp, came from “a strong, loving family background” and that they represented the “rebirth of the von Trapp family” from “The Sound of Music.”

Ms. Menninger read from documentation that said the cost of the camp was over $4,000 per child for the summer, but that Jane and her siblings never applied for financial aid or scholarships for the three summers they attended. Jane said she did not recognize the document but recognized her signature and believed it was her application.

Ms. Menninger used her cross-examination to focus on what Jane told federal investigators in 2019 and 2020 about the sexual abuse she said she faced at the hands of Mr. Epstein and Ms. Maxwell. Ms. Menninger implied that those recounts differed from what she testified about on Tuesday.

“Two years later, now you remember that Ghislaine called your home to make appointments?” Ms. Menninger asked Jane on Wednesday.

“Right,” Jane responded.

“That memory has come back to you in the past two years?” Ms. Menninger pressed.

“Memory is not linear,” Jane replied.

During her cross-examination of Jane, who is an actress on a soap opera, Ms. Menninger asked Jane two questions: Is an actor “someone who plays the role of a fictional character” and “someone who takes lines borrowed from a writer”?

“Yes,” Jane replied to both.

Ms. Menninger asked if characters in soap operas had “tangled interpersonal relationships,” and if they responded in a “melodramatic and sentimental” way. She asked if Jane had played a number of different characters, including a protective mother, a prostitute, a car-crash victim and someone stalked by serial killers.

Jane answered yes, and quipped, “Not my favorite story line,” when asked about her role as a prostitute.

When it was time for a final set of questions from the government, the prosecutor asked Jane if she knew the difference between acting and testifying in court.

“Acting on television is not real and testifying in court is real and is the truth,” Jane replied. She said that she was not acting on the witness stand.

An ex-boyfriend of Jane who testified as “Matt” said Jane told him that she had “a godfather, an uncle, a family friend-type person who helped her mom pay the bills,” but never told him what she had to do to get the money. She only said, “It wasn’t free,” Matt told the jury Wednesday.

Matt said that Jane told him that Mr. Epstein had an adult female friend who “made her feel comfortable” spending time with the financier as a teenager — but did not mention Ms. Maxwell by name. It was only after Ms. Maxwell’s 2020 arrest that Jane confirmed that she was the woman, he said.

Colin Moynihan contributed reporting.

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