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Epstein’s relationship with Maxwell ‘more personal than business’ says ‘Lolita Express’ pilot

The first witness to give evidence in the Ghislaine Maxwell trial was the former captain of Jeffrey Epstein’s infamous ‘Lolita Express’ plane.

Larry Visoski was Epstein’s chief pilot and flew the pedophile financier for more than 25 years.

Visoski captained Epstein’s Boeing 727 jet – known infamously as the ‘Lolita Express’ – just one of several private aircraft which prosecutors believe was used to shuttle underage girls between Epstein’s residences in New York and Palm Beach. 

Asked what he had made of Epstein’s relationship to Ghislaine Maxwell, he said it was ‘more personal than business’.

But he added: ‘I wouldn’t characterize it as romantic.’

Visoski said he had been hired in 1991 and had flown Epstein around roughly ‘every four days’. The pilot was so close to his boss that his daughter was reportedly married at Epstein’s New Mexico ranch.

Epstein’s pilot Lawrence ‘Larry’ Visoski Jr. took the stand Monday afternoon as the first witness in the trial.  Pictured: Visoski in the cockpit of Epstein’s Gulfstream G550 – another one of his private aircraft

Maxwell, 59, who is accused of procuring underage girls for pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, is set to stand trial on sex trafficking charges on November 29. She has pleaded not guilty to all charges

Maxwell, 59, who is accused of procuring underage girls for pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, is set to stand trial on sex trafficking charges on November 29. She has pleaded not guilty to all charges 

Visoski described the interior of Epstein’s New York mansion in detail, as photos of the properties around the world where abuse is alleged to have taken place were displayed for the jury.

Epstein used his private jet – nicknamed the Lolita Express because of some of the alleged underage passengers – to fly himself, high-powered friends, including Bill Clinton, and a parade of young women.

Last year, it emerged flight logs for all of Epstein’s private aircraft had been subpoenaed, sparking fears among celebrities who had partied with the pedophile.

The attorney general in the Virgin Islands where he owned a private island has reportedly demanded to see the logs.

Victims have since claimed Epstein had a large bed installed on the jet where guests had group sex with young girls, fulfilling their warped fantasies.

In 2015, victim Virginia Giuffre Roberts filed a lawsuit against the billionaire, claiming he recruited her as a ‘sex slave’ at the age of 15, sexually abusing her for years on his private jet as well as his various homes in New York, New Mexico, Florida, and the US Virgin Islands.

A 2019 report claimed court filings showed that Epstein sold the Lolita Express weeks before his arrest on July 6 that year.

Huff and Darren Indyke, a lawyer and co-executor of Epstein’s estate, were both contacted for comment by MailOnline.

Protesters gathered outside the courthouse holding signs depicting Epstein's private jet dubbed the 'Lolita Express' that carried high-profile individuals, including Bill Gates, Donald Trump and Bill Clinton

Protesters gathered outside the courthouse holding signs depicting Epstein’s private jet dubbed the ‘Lolita Express’ that carried high-profile individuals, including Bill Gates, Donald Trump and Bill Clinton

Ghislaine Maxwell was Jeffrey Epstein's 'partner in crime' who 'targeted young girls for sexual abuse', the prosecution has claimed in a blistering opening statement as the trial of Maxwell got underway on Monday where the 59-year-old is facing sex trafficking charges. Pictured: Assistant U.S. Attorney Lara Pomerantz points at Maxwell during opening statements

Ghislaine Maxwell was Jeffrey Epstein’s ‘partner in crime’ who ‘targeted young girls for sexual abuse’, the prosecution has claimed in a blistering opening statement as the trial of Maxwell got underway on Monday where the 59-year-old is facing sex trafficking charges. Pictured: Assistant U.S. Attorney Lara Pomerantz points at Maxwell during opening statements 

Visoski’s testimony was given on the first day of Ghislaine Maxwell’s trial on sex trafficking charges in Manhattan’s Federal Court House yesterday.

The British socialite was Epstein’s ‘second in command’ and lured vulnerable teenagers for him to assault, a jury in New York heard.

The courtroom was packed as Maxwell’s trial on sex trafficking charges got under way, with observers queuing in the freezing cold from 5am to guarantee a seat. They were silent throughout as lurid claims against Epstein’s alleged madam were aired.

Maxwell herself listened intently throughout the first day of the trial, occasionally scribbling in a notebook and turning to look at her sister, as Assistant US Attorney Lara Pomerantz accused her of ‘heinous crimes’.

The prosecutor warned the jury that some of the evidence they will hear over the course of the six-week trial may make them uncomfortable.

But, after hearing it, she added, they would ‘reach the only verdict possible – that Ghislaine Maxwell is guilty’. 

Miss Pomerantz accused Maxwell of being one half of a powerful couple with Epstein, devising a sick ‘pyramid scheme of abuse’.

Maxwell denies sex trafficking and other charges and has been awaiting trial for over a year in 'hell-hole' Brooklyn prison. In this courtroom sketch, Ghislaine Maxwell enters the courtroom escorted by U.S. Marshalls at the start of her trial, Monday, Nov. 29, 2021, in New York

Maxwell denies sex trafficking and other charges and has been awaiting trial for over a year in ‘hell-hole’ Brooklyn prison. In this courtroom sketch, Ghislaine Maxwell enters the courtroom escorted by U.S. Marshalls at the start of her trial, Monday, Nov. 29, 2021, in New York

Ghislaine Maxwell was Epstein’s ‘partner in crime who put girls at ease and promised them the world before serving them up to be sexually abused’, prosecution claims in blistering opening statement 

Ghislaine Maxwell’s sister and one of her sex trafficking accusers were seen leaving the Manhattan courthouse Monday after the first day of the British socialite and billionaire financier’s trial. 

Maxwell was Jeffrey Epstein’s ‘partner in crime’ who ‘targeted young girls for sexual abuse’, the prosecution alleges.

Sarah Ransome, one of several women who have accused Epstein and Maxwell of sexual abuse, departed the court on Monday evening after being escorted by security. She was photographed with a stern expression, before entering a taxi cab.

Maxwell’s sister, Isabel Maxwell, also appeared at the Thurgood Marshall United States Courthouse on Monday. She was swarmed by cameras as she exited the building.

Meanwhile, a jury of seven women and five men heard Monday afternoon how Maxwell allegedly went after girls as young as 14 with ‘difficult home lives’, often daughters of single mothers, and would ‘promise them the world’. 

‘[Maxwell] put them at ease…all so they could be molested by a middle-aged man,’ said Assistant U.S. Attorney Lara Pomerantz. ‘There were times when she was in the room when it happened.’

Maxwell, wearing a cashmere turtleneck, black pants and black low-heeled shoes, appeared relaxed and smiled behind her white mask as she walked into the courtroom ahead of opening statements.  

Pomerantz began the dramatic presentation with the line, ‘I want to tell you about a young girl named Jane,’ adding that ‘Jane’ – a pseudonym for the victim – was introduced to a man and a women at camp, who said they were donors. 

‘What Jane didn’t know then is that man and woman were predators,’ Pomerantz said. ‘Who was that woman targeting young girls for sexual abuse? It was the defendant: Ghislaine Maxwell.’  

Maxwell, 59, is charged with recruiting and grooming four underage girls for Epstein from 1994 to 2004. He died by suicide in 2019 in a Manhattan jail cell before he could be tried on sex abuse charges. 

She faces up to 80 years behind bars if found guilty. 

Ghislaine Maxwell was Jeffrey Epstein's 'partner in crime' who 'targeted young girls for sexual abuse', the prosecution claimed in a blistering opening statement

Ghislaine Maxwell was Jeffrey Epstein’s ‘partner in crime’ who ‘targeted young girls for sexual abuse’, the prosecution claimed in a blistering opening statement

 

Glossy hair, heels, cashmere, hugs with her lawyers… in cavernous Courtroom 318, Ghislaine Maxwell cast off the victim status of jailhouse brutality, writes TOM LEONARD

  • Ghislaine Maxwell, 59, never conceded an inch in insisting she’s no criminal
  • Gone was the hunched victim of jailhouse brutality seen previously in court 
  • She almost breezed into Thurgood Marshall United States Courthouse in heels
  • She also wore an expensive-looking beige cashmere jumper and  black trousers
  • The socialite faces 80 years in prison if convicted of sex trafficking charges

ByTom Leonard for the Daily Mail

Ghislaine Maxwell has never conceded an inch in her insistence that she’s no grubby criminal and, on the first day of her trial yesterday, she certainly wasn’t about to start.

As she arrived to hear opening statements for a case that could see her spend the rest of her life behind bars, gone was the hunched, confused victim of jailhouse brutality seen at previous court appearances when she was trying to win bail.

She almost breezed into Thurgood Marshall United States Courthouse. Followed by two female guards, the drab blue prison uniform of previous court appearances was replaced by an expensive-looking beige cashmere jumper, black trousers, heels and a white Covid mask.

Once inside the cavernous Courtroom 318 in downtown Manhattan, which is famous as the venue for its terrorist trials, the British socialite gave affectionate hugs to each of her four high-powered lawyers.

Ghislaine Maxwell's sex trafficking trial has begun today in New York where the 59-year-old socialite faces 80 years in prison if convicted. She's pictured embracing her defense lawyers

Ghislaine Maxwell’s sex trafficking trial has begun today in New York where the 59-year-old socialite faces 80 years in prison if convicted. She’s pictured embracing her defense lawyers 

Maxwell's legal team has repeatedly made claims about her alleged mistreatment behind bars. She is shown in prison earlier this year with 'a black eye'

Maxwell’s legal team has repeatedly made claims about her alleged mistreatment behind bars. She is shown in prison earlier this year with ‘a black eye’ 

A tactile person, at least with her attorneys, Maxwell would frequently lean over them, resting her hand appreciatively on the small of their back as the morning progressed with final pre-trial delays.

She then waved to her beret-clad sister Isabel, who lives in the US and who has been representing the family in court at previous hearings, just yards away in the front row of the public seats.

Sitting next to Isabel was another ally, Leah Saffian, longtime Maxwell family lawyer and old friend of Ghislaine. Maxwell often glanced in their direction during the day but they didn’t always appear to see her.

In what may have been a reflection of her nervous energy or else a determined attempt not to let her uneasiness show, Maxwell was often a ball of energy as she feverishly wrote out notes for her lawyers, discussed tactics and once even snapped her fingers twice in succession as she appeared to become excited by some aspect of their talks.

The defendant who’d accused the authorities of purposefully making her jail life so hellish that it would ruin her chances of putting together a decent defence appeared to be making up for lost time.

She sat next to Christian Everdell, a former prosecutor on the team that convicted Mexican drug cartel leader Joaquin El Chapo Guzman, and often edged close to him to talk in his ear.

Sarah Ransome, one of several women who have accused Epstein and Ghislaine of sexual abuse, was seen arriving to the courthouse

Sarah Ransome, one of several women who have accused Epstein and Ghislaine of sexual abuse, was seen arriving to the courthouse

Sarah Ransome, one of several women who have accused Epstein and Ghislaine of sexual abuse, was seen arriving to the courthouse

Maxwell seemed little bothered that her mask often slipped below her nose but, at this stage, she may regard contracting coronavirus as the least of her problems.

After 17 months in a detention centre where she was living in virtual solitary confinement in a tiny cell, it appeared Maxwell was relishing the liberty that a trial expected to last several months will afford her. Her thick black hair, shiny and recently trimmed just above the shoulder, showed not a trace of the grey streaks that were all too evident in the days when she was trying to win bail.

According to prosecutors, Maxwell has done her level best to put off this day, avoiding justice for years – her family insist she was only fleeing the media – with tactics that even extended to covering her mobile phone with tin foil to stop it being electronically tracked. As her defence laid out yesterday, she in turn claims she is a scapegoat for the sins of her former lover and close friend Jeffrey Epstein – an innocent woman caught up in the embarrassment of a government that failed to prevent the paedophile financier from committing suicide behind bars before he could be put on trial.

If the reputedly haughty daughter of the even haughtier Robert Maxwell has indeed – as the evidence strongly suggests – been trying to put off the day she finally had to face her accusers, she can thank the coronavirus that her humiliation wasn’t sharper.

Although Courtroom 318 was chosen primarily because it is one of the bigger courtrooms – the Maxwell trial has attracted vast attention – social distancing measures have drastically reduced the number of people it can fit.

In this courtroom sketch, Ghislaine Maxwell sits at the defense table during final stages of jury selection on Monday 

There was only room for a handful of the journalists who had been queuing – 50-strong – from before dawn for a place in court. Best of all, perhaps, for Maxwell was that she was spared the ray gun stares of at least two of Epstein’s accusers who – not involved in the trial – also weren’t able to get into the courtroom and had to make do watching it on monitors in an overflow room.

The Covid measures include the building of plexiglass boxes containing hospital-grade HEPA air filters around the witness and lawyers’ stands so they can ask and answer questions without having to wear a mask. Although the case has been dubbed the trial of the decade, it was delayed yesterday after it emerged that one of the jurors had forgotten it was starting.

Maxwell’s fate will be decided in a wood-panelled courtroom with 30ft ceilings that heard the trials of defendants linked to the Al Qaeda attacks on US embassies in Africa and a plot to blow up the United Nations headquarters. The courtroom is also famous as the place where notorious mobster boss Joseph Bonanno chose to surrender himself to the authorities after going on the run. The canny Mafiosa simply turned up in the courtroom and announced his identity because he wanted to be arrested by court police rather than the less lenient FBI.

Courtroom 318 is also useful for high security cases because it is close to a covered crosswalk connecting the courts to the next-door Metropolitan Corrections Center where prisoners are kept. In the event of trouble, guards can rush into court quickly and whisk the accused back to their cell.

Isabel Maxwell, the sister of Ghislaine Maxwell, arrives at the Thurgood Marshall United States Courthouse on Monday

Isabel Maxwell, the sister of Ghislaine Maxwell, arrives at the Thurgood Marshall United States Courthouse on Monday 

No such interruption looks likely at the Maxwell trial. Although she once slammed her hand angrily down on a desk at lawyers while giving a deposition a few years ago, no such outburst looks likely now.

As lawyer Lara Pomerantz outlined the prosecution case in all its ugliness, Maxwell generally stared straight ahead.

She sat behind Miss Pomerantz, straight in the line of sight of jurors looking at the lawyer, but Maxwell forebore to shake her head at the allegations. Instead her only reaction was to occasionally reach for a pen and scribble out another note on an index card which she passed to her legal team.

Her lawyer Bobbi Sternheim described Epstein as the ‘proverbial elephant in the room’.

But Maxwell will not be allowed to forget that, for many of his accusers, this middle-aged and supposedly respectable woman – who allegedly helped recruit and groom them – is even more detestable than him.


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