Ghislaine Maxwell: Socialite's sex trafficking trial opens
Andrew, Duke of York has been dragged into the New York trial of Ghislaine Maxwell, who is accused of recruiting and grooming four underage girls for Jeffrey Epstein, as jurors heard he was one of a number of high-profile figures to fly on the aircraft of the disgraced financier.
The trial started at around 8.30am local time (1.30pm GMT) on Monday.
It saw US Assistant District Attorney Lara Pomerantz telling jurors British socialite Maxwell targeted young girls from 1994 to 2004 for sexual abuse by Epstein as a "means to support her lifestyle".
On Tuesday, another well-known British figure, the Duke of York, 61, was mentioned in the trial.
Witness Larry Visoski, Epstein's former pilot, recalled meeting Prince Andrew's accuser Virginia Roberts in the mid-to-late nineties.
Ms Roberts says Andrew sexually assaulted her when she was 17 at the London home of Maxwell as well as at Epstein's homes in Manhattan and Little Saint James, in the US Virgin Islands – claims Prince Andrew vehemently denies.
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Prince Andrew has been listed as a passenger on one of Epstein's planes at Ghislaine Maxwell's trial
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Mr Visoski said: "She was a short woman with dirty blonde hair."
Assistant US attorney Maurene Comey asked: "Did anyone know how old Virginia Roberts was?"
The witness replied: "No."
Jurors were shown diverse photographs of Epstein's properties, including a ranch in New Mexico, an apartment in Paris, his private island in the US Virgin Islands, and his private planes.
Under cross-examination from defence counsel Christian Everdell, Mr Visoski was asked: "Are you familiar with Prince Andrew, the Duke of York?
"He is the second son of the Queen.
"Did he ever fly on Epstein's planes?"
Larry Visoski, Epstein's former pilot, took the stand at the trial on Tuesday
The witness responded: "Yes, he did."
Mr Visoski told jurors he could not recall the dates Andrew flew.
Jurors went on to ask about former US presidents Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, as well as actors Kevin Spacey and Chris Tucker.
Mr Visoski remembered all of them joining Epstein on his flights.
The witness told the jury he never saw sexual activity on board.
Mr Everdell asked: "If Mr Epstein was engaging in sex acts during the flight he probably would have told you not to leave the cockpit would he?"
Mr Visoski answered: "That's correct."
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Melania Trump, Prince Andrew, Gwendolyn Beck and Jeffrey Epstein at a party in Floria in 2000
Maxwell is accused of recruiting and grooming four underage girls for financier Epstein
On Monday, US Assistant District Attorney Lara Pomerantz described how Maxwell helped nurture a "culture of silence" to allow their "heinous crimes" in Epstein's properties, where she was "the lady of the house".
Ms Pomerantz said: "She ran Epstein's various properties and she imposed rules not to talk directly with Epstein.
"When she took charge of these homes, the rules for staff were strict. Employees were to see nothing, hear nothing and say nothing."
Maxwell, who has been in a Brooklyn jail since August 2020, appeared in court for the first time in April this year.
She faces six charges, all of which she denies.
They include conspiracy to entice minors to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, enticement of a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, and conspiracy to transport minors with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity.
Four accusers are expected to testify as government witnesses in the six-week trial.
The trial continues.