In these cases, no one forcibly pulled up and stuffed these girls into a van kicking and screaming. No chloroform was used, but each young woman testified to being groomed and lured into situations they didn’t know how to escape.
These are just a few of the stories linked to the controversial behaviors of Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell. They may not be the demonic sex-cult extremes that some people expected, but each testimony offers clues to the truth.
Every similar detail can help young ladies better arm themselves against potential abusers, and hopefully empower other victims of abuse to come forward. Each of these women had familial and financial issues that made them desperate for validation and a place to belong. They were easy targets for predators and more susceptible to grooming.
The word “grooming” has been printed a lot lately, but many people don’t seem to fully understand just what it is. It’s luring someone in with gifts, attention, money, and more. It’s normalizing inappropriate touching and physical contact, starting with small actions and then building to larger ones. It’s coercion over time and building trust for control. Slowly eroding away someone’s reservations against behaviors they might not openly accept if shown up front, or just don’t really understand.
All three of the women who testified are being referred to by pseudonyms for protection. “Jane,” “Kate,” and “Carolyn” all had different stories, but certain details appear in all three situations.
On Tuesday, November 30, “Jane” took the stand to describe her experiences. She alleges that she met Maxwell and Epstein while eating ice cream on a park bench at art camp when she was 14 years old. Her father had died nine months earlier, and her mother had lost their home. Her family was experiencing financial woes and living in a pool house at the time.
“(My) classmates left and I was there by myself eating my ice cream and the man sat across from me,” she said, noting that Maxwell brought along a “cute little dog.” She thought the pair was a friendly married couple. “He seemed very interested to know what I thought about the camp.”
She recounted that she and her mother were invited to Epstein’s Palm Beach home multiple times over the course of months. Maxwell became like an “older sister” to her.
Maxwell became like an “older sister” to her.
Once trust was gained, “Jane” said the pair took her school shopping and then brought her to Victoria’s Secret. She thought nothing of it at first, stating, “Initially, I felt special.”
But then she spoke of how Epstein and Maxwell brought her to his bedroom and “took their clothes off.” She said they began fondling each other and “casually giggled” as if this was normal behavior between adults and adolescents.
“He asked me to take my top off,” she admitted, and he then proceeded to masturbate in front of her. Once that was normalized, more abuses are said to have occurred. “Jane” described being led and coerced to give sexual massages in one of Epstein’s massage rooms multiple times and witnessing orgies.
The second alleged victim gave her testimony on Monday, December 6. She was legally of age at the time of her abuse but described being heavily groomed. She spoke of being approached by Maxwell and introduced to Epstein.
Like “Jane”, “Kate” recounted how the couple made her feel “really special,” and offered to help her start a music career. Her mother was ill and her family was not doing well. On “Kate’s” 18th birthday, Maxwell supposedly gave her a designer handbag.
“Kate” was also invited to tea at Epstein’s Palm Beach estate. She was only 95 pounds at the time, but Maxwell allegedly commented on how strong she was to encourage physical contact, saying, “Why don’t you give his feet a little squeeze and show how strong you are?”
She feared the consequences of refusing to continue: “I didn’t know how to say no.”
As she grew comfortable with the duo, “Kate” was encouraged to give Epstein a foot massage and then to massage his shoulders. A few weeks later she was asked to fill in for his masseuse and taken to one of his “massage rooms.”
Epstein is said to have been waiting, naked, and tried to sexually engage her. Once this behavior was normalized, she returned and Maxwell told her to “Have a good time.” It was on that occasion that a “sex act” was committed.
Kate admitted that she feared the consequences of refusing to continue. “I didn’t know how to say no.”
The most recent testimony was given on Wednesday, December 8 by the third alleged victim, known as “Carolyn.” She claims she was only 13 when Maxwell approached her and she was lured into Epstein’s sex trafficking ring.
Her grandfather had molested her when she was only four. Her mother was an addict who didn’t often worry about what she was doing. “Carolyn” had dropped out of school and battled addiction issues after the seventh grade.
She stated that she was introduced to Maxwell by Virginia Giuffre — who has also claimed to be one of Epstein’s victims — and confided in her. Even knowing of “Carolyn’s” struggles, Maxwell allegedly introduced her to Epstein. “She came in and felt my boobs and my hips and my buttocks and said I had a great body for Mr. Epstein and his friends.”
When she turned 18 and needed money, she was turned away for being “too old.”
“Carolyn” recounted how, “We were going to her friend's house on Palm Beach Island, and we were going to meet one of her wealthy friends, and I was going to give a massage.” Giuffre stripped and Carolyn got down to her bra and panties. Both massaged Epstein, and then Giuffre had sex with him in front of her.
The behavior was normalized, and so “Carolyn” noted that she returned more than 100 times to have sex with Epstein and sometimes another woman. She had nude pictures taken of her. But when she turned 18 and needed money, she was turned away for being “too old.”
If we learn anything from this case, it’s that not only parents, but friends, schoolmates, neighbors, and communities need to be vigilant. Something as simple as sitting next to a lonely girl on a park bench may be enough to deter predators.