Indignant and defensive: Ghislaine Maxwell deposition reveals side to heiress not seen before

Josie Ensor
·3-min read
Ghislaine Maxwell, Jeffrey Epstein and musician Michael Bolton pose for a portrait during a party at the Mar-a-Lago club, Palm Beach, Florida, in 2000
Ghislaine Maxwell, Jeffrey Epstein and musician Michael Bolton pose for a portrait during a party at the Mar-a-Lago club, Palm Beach, Florida, in 2000

Ghislaine Maxwell called her accuser a liar 28 times as her anger boiled over in a legal deposition, unsealed on Wednesday, that revealed a side to the British socialite not seen before.

After a years-long legal battle, testimony Ms Maxwell gave in 2016 as part of a civil lawsuit filed by a victim of former boyfriend Jeffrey Epstein was made public – the most substantial account to date of her connection to his underworld of sex trafficking and abuse.

The 465-page testimony sheds extraordinary light on a woman who until now has largely been seen – pictured in the society pages of glossy magazines – but not heard. 

"What I know is her story, about how she claims that initial situation happened, is so egregiously false and such a giant fat enormous, repulsive, disgusting, inappropriate, vile lie, that that I can testify to," a defensive Ms Maxwell says of the allegations brought by Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who was 17 when she claims she was abused by Epstein and Maxwell.

Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell, pictured attending a concert in 2005 - Getty
Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell, pictured attending a concert in 2005 - Getty

It may well have been the first time in the 58-year-old's life that she had been forced to answer to anyone, and she was clearly uncomfortable with the dynamic.

Ms Maxwell has lived a sheltered existence, protected by powerful rich men who knew how to make problems go away.

For the first 30 years of her life, that man was her father, Robert Maxwell, the British media mogul who died mysteriously aboard his yacht – named The Lady Ghislane, after his youngest child – in 1991.

Stepping in to take his place was a young American financier, Jeffrey Epstein, a man of great wealth and connections.

Little can be detected in the deposition of the raffish charm and grace that old acquaintances from London and New York say Maxwell was known for. The heiress replies impertinently to prying questions from Mrs Giuffre's lawyers, clearly indignant.

A courtroom sketch of Ghislaine Maxwell appearing via video link during her arraignment hearing at Manhattan Federal Court in New York - Reuters
A courtroom sketch of Ghislaine Maxwell appearing via video link during her arraignment hearing at Manhattan Federal Court in New York - Reuters

About half-way through the deposition, after being asked 10 times in a row whether she believed Epstein, her long-time associate and one-time boyfriend, had abused minors including Ms Giuffre, Ms Maxwell snaps.

"Let's move on," she tells the lawyer, to which he replies: "I'm in charge of the deposition. I say when we move on and when we don't."

It is clear Ms Maxwell has been thoroughly briefed by her lawyers. At several points, she even speaks with the authority of one. "I have to object," she tells the persistent attorney when asked about a flight she is alleged to have taken with Epstein. "You don't get to object," he replies sternly.

At a later point, Ms Maxwell gets angry enough to pound her fist violently on the table. She later apologises for her behaviour, explaining that it was "born out of years of feeling the pressure of this entire lie that [Ms Roberts Giuffre] has perpetrated."

She now awaits trial in a federal prison in Brooklyn, where she spends most of her time in solitary confinement.