NEW YORK (REUTERS) – Ghislaine Maxwell was “number two” in the hierarchy of Jeffrey Epstein’s employees, a former longtime pilot for the deceased financier testified on Tuesday (Nov 30) at Maxwell’s sex-abuse trial in Manhattan.
Pilot Lawrence Visoski, who is testifying for the government, said Epstein explained to him that he hired Maxwell in the 1990s to manage his properties and other aspects of his personal life so he could focus on his businesses.
The testimony comes on the second day of Maxwell’s trial in Manhattan federal court.
Prosecutors have charged Maxwell, who was also an intimate partner of Epstein’s, with recruiting and grooming four underage girls to give Epstein erotic massages, describing them as a “ruse” for sex abuse.
“Ms Maxwell was number two. Mr Epstein was a big number one,” Visoski told jurors. “He knew he was going to get busy so Ghislaine was his go-to person to handle everything that was not business related.”
Visoski said Maxwell and Epstein appeared to be a couple in the 1990s, but their relationship was purely based on business by the early 2000s.
Maxwell, 59, has pleaded not guilty to eight counts of sex trafficking and other crimes, including two perjury charges that will be tried at a later date. She faces up to 80 years in prison if convicted on all counts.
Lawyers for Maxwell have said that the British socialite was being scapegoated for crimes Epstein committed. Epstein died in jail in 2019 while awaiting trial on sex-abuse charges.
Visoski’s testimony has provided jurors with a sense of the lifestyle Epstein and Maxwell lived between 1994 and 2004, the period in which prosecutors say Maxwell lured four underage girls for Epstein to abuse.
The pilot said he frequently shuttled Epstein and guests between Epstein’s properties in New York, Florida, New Mexico, Paris and Caribbean islands. Visoski said Britain’s Prince Andrew as well as former US presidents Bill Clinton and Donald Trump flew on Epstein’s plane multiple times.
Clinton, Trump and Prince Andrew have not been accused of wrongdoing in the criminal case.
Visoski said Epstein introduced him to a female singer named Jane in the cockpit of Epstein’s plane in the 1990s. Prosecutor Lara Pomerantz said in opening statements on Monday that Maxwell and Epstein met Jane – a pseudonym – in 1994 when she was 14, and later sexually abused her.
Jane is one of the four alleged victims mentioned in the indictment and is expected to testify at the trial.
Visoski said he recalled Jane as a “mature woman.”
Upon cross examination by one of Maxwell’s attorneys, Christian Everdell, Visoski said he did not always record all passengers’ first and last names on flight manifests.
He said Epstein sometimes gave people tours of his plane while it was on the ground, and that he did not know whether Jane flew on the plane.