Charge That Maxwell ‘groomed’ Girls for Epstein Is Central to Case

By Nicole Hong and Benjamin Weiser
New York Times
September 17, 2020

Prosecutors are relying on a theory that Ghislaine Maxwell slowly broke down the resistance of teenage girls to sexual abuse at the hands of Jeffrey Epstein.

Annie Farmer was 16 years old when she arrived at Jeffrey Epstein’s ranch in New Mexico in 1996 to attend a program for high school students, only to learn that she was the sole participant.

There she met Mr. Epstein’s companion, Ghislaine Maxwell, who seemed friendly and asked about her classmates and her family. Ms. Maxwell and Mr. Epstein took her shopping and lavished her with gifts, like beauty products and new cowboy boots, according to a lawsuit Ms. Farmer filed last year.

The seemingly innocuous behavior was in fact part of a process to “groom” Ms. Farmer for sexual activity, the authorities now say. Ms. Maxwell began pressuring Ms. Farmer to give Mr. Epstein a foot massage, according to the lawsuit, and the encounters escalated — until Ms. Farmer says she eventually woke up one day to find Mr. Epstein entering her room, climbing into her bed and pressing his body against hers.

Now, with Ms. Maxwell facing allegations that she helped Mr. Epstein recruit and ultimately abuse girls as young as 14, the concept of grooming is at the heart of the criminal case against her. References to grooming appear nine times in the 18-page indictment against Ms. Maxwell.

Grooming has long been part of cases involving underage victims, but the concept has become increasingly important in the #MeToo era, as prosecutors have become more willing to file sex-crime charges in cases where people are coerced into sexual relationships without physical force.








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