Prosecution Saved Strongest Testimony for Last in Ghislaine Maxwell Trial
The prosecution’s final victim witness is a doozy. Annie Farmer, a therapist who holds a PhD in educational psychology, took the stand shortly before 10 a.m. on Friday to testify about uncomfortable experiences she says she had with Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell when she was 16. The judge stipulated to the jury that the events Farmer described would not constitute “illegal sexual activity,” but that hasn’t weakened the impact of her testimony about Maxwell giving her an inappropriate massage and Epstein climbing into her bed one morning to “cuddle” her. So far, she also appears largely unshakable under cross-examination, where defense is focusing on her memory.
Farmer is the only accuser to testify under her full name, and she’s already known publicly as one of Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged victims. Along with her older sister, Maria, Farmer has spoken in multiple interviews and appeared in the 2020 Netflix docuseries Filthy Rich telling the same story. She and her sister were infamously cut from Vicky Ward’s 2003 Vanity Fair piece on Epstein’s wealth (either because a bullet and a severed cat head on Graydon Carter’s property spooked the magazine’s editor or because Ward did not have the reporting pinned down to the publication’s legal standards, depending on who you ask).
Punctuated by passages from her adolescent journal, Farmer told jurors that she had first met Epstein when she visited her older sister Maria in New York for a week after Christmas in 1995. At that point, Annie was 16, a diligent student, and knew Epstein as her sister’s boss and as someone who might be able to help her get into college and pay tuition. Maria, 25 at the time of the New York visit, was not called to testify but has spoken publicly on multiple occasions about her own experiences with Epstein, whom she said had promised to help with her painting career.
Reading from the journal she kept at the time, Farmer detailed a decadent vacation where Epstein shared champagne with her and Maria before having his personal driver deliver them to a showing of Phantom of the Opera on Broadway. They saw the Blue Man Group, The Duchess, visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art and went thrift shopping. Farmer wrote about finding a vintage “dream dress” for her junior prom at a thrift store. One government exhibit showed her wearing the prom dress she’d bought on that trip, with a pale pink pink tulle skirt. She wore matching pink gloves that ended at her wrists.
On another occasion during the 1995 New York trip, Farmer said she went to a movie — 12 Monkeys — where Epstein sat between her and her sister. There, Farmer said, Epstein “caressed” her hand and interlocked his fingers with hers to hold hands. He also bumped the bottom of her shoe and rubbed her leg. She said when he spoke to her sister, he would stop touching her, but then resume. Farmer said she was “very surprised” and felt nervous, anxious, and “kind of sick to my stomach.” She said she didn’t tell her sister who, more than nine years her senior, was protective of her. She said she feared it could cause Maria to lose her job.
Most telling were her journal entries about the trip. One shortly after she got home gushed about falling in love with the city. “New York is such an amazing city,” she wrote, saying she “felt really comfortable there” and like she could see herself living there one day. She described Epstein as seeming “down to earth and easy to talk to.” A few weeks later, she made another entry, filling in details like their other outings and shows they saw. She also wrote about the movie theater incident with unmistakable teenage ambivalence. “It was one of those things that just gave me a weird feeling but wasn’t that weird and probably normal,” she wrote, adding that she couldn’t tell Maria because “she worships [Epstein]” and it was “not a big deal.” “I know this sounds like I’m trying to justify him doing something weird, but it isn’t.”
In the spring of 1996, Farmer said Epstein paid for her to visit his New Mexico ranch. She met Maxwell there, whom she described as trim, attractive, well-dressed, well-spoken, articulate, and enthusiastic in greeting her. She said being the only person staying there in a residence with Maxwell and Epstein felt “unusual” but also made her feel special. The three took a shopping trip together, she said, where they bought her cowboy boots and a hair product from a natural foods store.
At the time, Farmer said, she didn’t have much use for cowboy boots. She threw them in the back of her closet when she got home and later retrieved them from storage to use as evidence in a potential FBI case around 2006. That case never panned out. Since then, she says she’s “reclaimed” the boots and started wearing them. “I saw them as a symbol of a hard thing that happened to me,” she said. “But by using the boots it was a way of changing that.”
Farmer described the three of them going to a movie, Primal Fear, which Farmer said she wasn’t eager to do again but hoped it would be different since Epstein and Maxwell appeared to be a romantic couple and the presence of Maxwell was comforting. Again, Epstein caressed and held her hand, but she says he didn’t stop when he spoke to Maxwell.
On another occasion, Maxwell showed her how to rub Epstein’s feet with Maxwell demonstrating on one foot while Farmer rubbed the other. Farmer said he made “groaning noises” during the massage.
At one point on that trip, she said, Maxwell asked if she’d ever received a professional massage and then told her she wanted her to have that experience. Farmer agreed to undress and lie under a sheet on a massage table. She said Maxwell rubbed her back and legs, making small talk before asking her to flip over, then pulling the sheet down to expose her breasts. She described feeling “frozen” as Maxwell rubbed her chest and “upper breasts.” “I wanted so badly to get off the massage table and for it to be done,” she said. Epstein was not in the immediate vicinity, she recalled, but said she “had a sense that he could see [her].”
One morning, Farmer said she remembers Epstein opening the door and “bounding” into her room playfully, saying he wanted to cuddle. Farmer told the jury he did cuddle her, and again said she felt “frozen” as he wrapped his arms around her and pressed his body against hers. She made an excuse to get away and close herself in the bathroom.
After that happened, Farmer said she just wanted the trip to be over. She’d thought they were interested in her as a student, she said — she’d even brought three-by-five-inch flashcards with talking points on a paper she was working on in school about British authors. She said after the massage, Maxwell seemed “disinterested” in the conversation about her academics. “All these experiences made me feel like they had a very different interest in me,” she said. “I wanted it to be done.”
In cross-examination, defense attorney Laura Menninger is so far focusing on Farmer’s memory. She suggested that, lacking a journal entry from the trip to New Mexico (which Farmer said she hadn’t written about because she didn’t want to think about it again), Farmer had “reconstructed” her memory of the second movie outing and made her knowledge match the facts by cross-referencing her recollection with the time Primal Fear was released and checking with her friends on the timing of their prom that spring. Farmer said, “I don’t think I’d say it like that.” Menninger also focused in on the ambivalence in Farmer’s journal entry. “It’s weird, it’s not weird,” she said, describing the sentiments as “back and forth” and pointing out that Farmer had written that she was “in a pretty happy place” and “excited about the future” after the New York visit. Cross examination continues Friday afternoon with the state expected to rest its case.
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