Based on newly unsealed court documents, Ghislaine Maxwell found some vile and soulless representation.
In a never-before-seen deposition from 2016, Maxwell’s attorney Laura A. Menninger led aggressive questioning of Virginia Giuffre, who has long maintained that Maxwell and the late Jeffrey Epstein sexually abused and trafficked her from the time she was a minor.
It was no accident Maxwell’s team chose a female attorney to go after Giuffre. In a particularly brutal line of questioning, one designed to break Giuffre’s resolve, Menninger asks a version of this dozens of times:
“I’m asking you to name a single time during which Ghislaine Maxwell acting alone told you to go have sex with another person?”
In each case, Giuffre answers to the best of her ability, naming names when pressed — Prince Andrew, Bill Richardson, Alan Dershowitz. Giuffre also makes clear that Maxwell instructed her, sometimes alone and sometimes with Epstein, to have sex with their rich and powerful friends or participate in orgies. Other times, Maxwell and Epstein sexually abused Giuffre and Giuffre provides locations, intimate descriptions of Maxwell’s body and humiliating details.
But as only a lawyer can, Menninger acts as though Giuffre is refusing to answer her questions. To read these transcripts is to be outraged. Take these exchanges, edited for length and clarity:
Q: Please name a person that Ghislaine Maxwell directed you to go have sex with?
Q: What words did Ghislaine Maxwell use in talking to you and asking you to go have sex with [redacted]?
A: We’re sending you to a gentleman. We want you to show him a good time. We want you to do exactly what you would do for Jeffrey to him. Keep him happy. I can’t remember her exact words, and I’m not going to put words in my mouth to make it sound like what she said. But it was all along those lines.
Q: Okay. Name the other politically connected and financially powerful people that Ghislaine Maxwell told you to go have sex with?
A: Again, I’m going to tell you “they” because that’s how it went. They instructed me to go to George Mitchell, Jean Luc Brunel, Bill Richardson, another prince that I don’t know his name. A guy that owns a hotel, a really large hotel chain, I can’t remember which hotel it was.
Of course, it’s a lawyer’s job to do whatever it takes for their client. But does Giuffre sound like a hostile witness to you? Does she really sound deserving of this treatment?
Q: You cannot recall a single instance in which Ghislaine —
A: I have to —
Q: Excuse me. In which Ghislaine Maxwell alone directed you to have sex with another person —
A: I have to —
Q: — correct?
This goes on until Giuffre’s lawyer objects.
“I have given you the names of the people that Ghislaine herself has told me to go be sex trafficked to, along with Jeffrey Epstein, okay?” Giuffre says. “She’s the one who brought me to Jeffrey Epstein in the f—king first place.”
Purely as a tactical measure, exhibiting a smidge of sympathy would have been smart. But no. Menninger expresses nothing but detachment as Giuffre talks about being molested at age 11, running away from home, being sexually exploited by a 67-year-old man when she was a 13-year-old runaway, burning her journal as an adult because “I was sick of going through this s—t,” the fear Epstein and Maxwell instilled in her, never failing to remind Giuffre how powerful and connected they were, of the anxiety attacks she suffers to this day that leave her vomiting and unable to breathe, of her marriage suffering, how scared she still is for the safety of herself and her family.
There is clearly nothing Giuffre thinks Maxwell wouldn’t do to shut her up. Take this exchange, in part:
Menninger: Where is the original of the photograph that has been widely circulated in the press of you with Prince Andrew?
Giuffre: At some family’s house . . . my nephews live in that house.
Menninger: What are their names?
Giuffre: I’m not giving you the names of my nephews.
Menninger: What’s the address of the house?
Giuffre: Why would you want that? . . . I’m not going to give you the address of my nephews’ residence.
Menninger: Did you ask your nephews or anyone else to search those boxes in response to discovery requests that we issued in this case?
Giuffre: They are my nephews. I would never let them look at those.
Wow. Again: how could a woman not be sensitive to the nature of Giuffre’s evidence? Giuffre said Maxwell took sexually explicit photos of her.
“You should ask your client,” Giuffre says. “She’s got plenty of them.”
This deposition, now four years old, is finally public. We’ve long known the names of some of these famous men and just what kind of monsters are at work here, but we’ve never been privy to just how deeply Giuffre — in public so brave and stoic, the face of this case, really — has suffered.
Imagine how many other Virginia Giuffres are out there.
Now that Maxwell’s in custody, let’s hope she’s subject to as heartless a cross-examination.
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