Fresh off bail defeat, Ghislaine Maxwell claims alleged victims motivated by money

An attorney for accuser Annie Farmer slammed the claim as "victim-blaming."

December 31, 2020, 5:17 PM

When Ghislaine Maxwell, the accused co-conspirator of deceased sex-offender Jeffrey Epstein, first appeared in court after her arrest in July, Annie Farmer spoke up to implore the judge to keep Maxwell behind bars until trial.

"She is a sexual predator who groomed and abused me and countless other children and young women," Farmer told the court.

Five months later, when Maxwell returned to the court armed with a new $28.5 million proposed bail package and more than a dozen letters of support from family and friends, Farmer, 41, again stepped forward to oppose Maxwell's pretrial release.

"I believe that she is a psychopath," Farmer wrote in a Dec. 15 letter to U.S. District Judge Alison J. Nathan. "She has demonstrated a complete failure to accept responsibility in any way for her actions and demonstrated a complete lack of remorse for her central role in procuring girls for Epstein to abuse."

Now, just days after Nathan again rejected Maxwell's application for bail, Maxwell's legal team is lashing out at Farmer, publicly questioning her motivations and credibility, according to new court filings in Farmer's civil lawsuit against Maxwell and Epstein's estate.

In what is likely a preview of a potential defense strategy for Maxwell's upcoming criminal trial, her lawyers suggested that Farmer's acceptance of a confidential settlement offer from a compensation program for Epstein's victims is indicative of a financial motivation for Farmer to make "false assertions" against Maxwell about events that allegedly occurred in the mid-1990s.

"The fact that [Farmer] seeks money from the estate and from Ms. Maxwell, in the millions of dollars, at the same time she is a government witness in an upcoming criminal trial on the same topic is reason enough to suspect that her newly asserted memories of abuse -- without corroboration -- are not based on the truth or a desire for 'justice' so much as her desire for cash," Laura Menninger, Maxwell's lawyer, wrote in a letter to the court late Wednesday.

"The motive for fabrication could not be clearer," the letter continued.

PHOTO: Audrey Strauss, acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, speaks at a news conference announcing charges against Ghislaine Maxwell for her role in the sexual exploitation of minors by Jeffrey Epstein in New York, July 2, 2020.
Audrey Strauss, acting United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, speaks alongside William F. Sweeney Jr., assistant director-in-charge of the New York Office, at a news conference announcing charges against Ghislaine Maxwell for her role in the sexual exploitation and abuse of minor girls by Jeffrey Epstein in New York City, July 2, 2020.
Lucas Jackson/Reuters, File

Farmer filed the civil lawsuit in November 2019, eight months before Maxwell's arrest, alleging she was sexually trafficked at age 16 as part of "Epstein and Maxwell's organized ring of procuring young women and girls for sex." During a 1996 visit to Epstein's ranch in New Mexico, Farmer claims Maxwell pressured her into receiving a massage and "touched intimate parts of [her] body against her will," according to Farmer's complaint.

Farmer placed her civil lawsuit on hold in June while she presented her claims to the Epstein Victims' Compensation Program, a voluntary restitution fund that began operating earlier this year. In October, Farmer accepted an offer from the program, which requires her to drop all pending litigation against the estate and any former employees of Epstein before she can collect.

But Maxwell's legal team has objected to the dismissal of the lawsuit, demanding that Farmer first be required to disclose the amount of her settlement. Maxwell's letter to the court this week reiterates that demand, even though a judge told Maxwell's lawyers earlier this month that she would not order that information disclosed to Maxwell.

"The amount of money [Farmer] obtains from the Epstein program is very much a matter of public interest and will go to the very core of plaintiff's credibility during the upcoming criminal trial," Menninger wrote in a letter to U.S. Magistrate Judge Debra Freeman.

Farmer, 41, has publicly identified herself as "Minor Victim 2" in Maxwell's criminal case and is certain to be called as a witness should Maxwell's case proceed to trial next summer. Maxwell is charged with facilitating and, in some cases, participating in Epstein's alleged sexual crimes against three minor girls, including Farmer, between 1994 and 1997. Maxwell pleaded not guilty to all the charges, and she has denied the allegations in Farmer's civil case. Epstein died in federal custody in August 2019 while awaiting trial on child sex-trafficking charges.

Sigrid McCawley, an attorney for Farmer, responded swiftly in a letter to the court on Thursday, slamming Maxwell's letter as a "vicious, victim-blaming" attack on Farmer.

"Ms. Farmer will not respond to Maxwell's meritless challenges to the merits of her case, to her credibility, or to her entirely appropriate participation in Maxwell's prosecution," McCawley wrote. "Ms. Farmer simply states that she stands by the allegations in her [lawsuit] and any statements she made in related proceedings, and she intends to testify truthfully if called in any future proceedings."

McCawley's letter also noted that Maxwell is not paying any portion of the proposed settlement offer from the Epstein Victims' Compensation Program.

"Maxwell should be quite pleased that she is escaping civil liability in this case without having to pay a dime to Ms. Farmer," McCawley wrote.

A similar dispute is currently playing out in a civil case brought against Maxwell by another likely witness in the criminal trial. That anonymous accuser, Jane Doe, accepted a settlement offer from the compensation fund earlier this month and has also moved to dismiss her case. Doe's allegations are substantially similar to those of "Minor Victim-1" in the criminal case.

PHOTO: Lawyer David Boies and Brad Edwards, foreground, speak to the press along with victim Annie Farmer, background, during a detention hearing for accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein at US Federal Court in New York City, July 15, 2019.
Lawyer David Boies and Brad Edwards, foreground, speak to the press along with victim Annie Farmer, background, during a detention hearing for accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein at US Federal Court in New York City, July 15, 2019.
Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images, FILE

But Maxwell is demanding that Doe, too, disclose the amount of her settlement before she consents to the dismissal of the lawsuit. And Maxwell has also requested that the court order Doe to pay Maxwell's legal fees and costs for defending herself in the lawsuit. Doe is seeking dismissal of her case, Maxwell's lawyers contend, "for substantially the same reasons as [Farmer] ... a desire to get her money faster," Menninger wrote.

Doe's attorney, Robert Glassman, told ABC News last week, "Maxwell is clearly trying to gain an unfair advantage over all these victims."

"She is inexplicably asking the judge to make a child rape victim pay for her attorney's fees and costs. It's unconscionable and sad," said Glassman, a trial lawyer at the California firm Panish, Shea & Boyle.

The judge in Doe's case has given the parties in until Jan. 15 to try to reach an agreement to dismiss the case that is acceptable to both sides. Maxwell's lawyers are seeking a similar schedule in Farmer's case.

But Farmer's attorneys are asking the court to step in now and put an end to the dispute and allow Farmer to receive her payment from the compensation fund.

"Ms. Farmer has been trying to dismiss this case since October 14, when she asked the defendants to stipulate to dismissal," McCawley wrote Thursday. "And Maxwell has delayed for no legitimate reason without providing any deadline whatsoever for responding."

Related Topics