Court documents have revealed a bizarre exchange in which Ghislaine Maxwell was grilled over a “puppet” allegedly used during the assault of victims at a home belonging to Jeffrey Epstein.
Court documents detailing Ms Maxwell's relationship with Epstein relating to a now-settled civil defamation lawsuit brought by Virginia Giuffre were unsealed and made public on Thursday.
During a drawn-out exchange in the 418 page 2016 deposition, prosecutors questioned Ms Maxwell in detail about the “puppet” in relation to an Epstein associate who’s name is redacted.
Prosecutors asked Ms Maxwell if she was ever in a room with the unnamed associate “ in New York in Jeffrey Epstein’s home where there was a puppet”.
Ms Maxwell and prosecutors then engaged in a lengthy discussion over the characterization of a “puppet”.
“I don’t know what you mean by puppet, there is hand puppets, all sorts of puppets”, she said amidst other deferring replies.
“Can you be more detailed?”, she asked before saying: “You know there is lots of types of puppets.”
Ms Maxwell eventually admitted that there was a “caricature” of someone who’s name is redacted and that it was present in Epstein's home.
“There was a puppet -- not a puppet -- there was a -- I don’t know how you would describe it really, I don’t know how you would describe it … a caricature of [redacted name] that was in Jeffrey’s home.”
The prosecutor pressed Ms Maxwell whether they put that puppet’s hand on the breast of an unnamed woman or whether Virginia Roberts was asked to sit on the unnamed person's lap with the puppet.
“I don’t recollect. I recollect the puppet but I do not recollect anything around the puppet,” she said in response. “I do not recollect that.”
In 2019 Prince Andrew was accused of groping a young woman in an incident involving a “puppet”. Prince Andrew has categorically denied the accusations.
A cache of legal papers unsealed by a US judge in 2019 from the same 2016 defamation lawsuit revealed allegations from Johanna Sjoberg that Prince Andrew had placed his hands on her breast while sitting on a couch inside Epstein's Manhattan flat in 2001.
In the legal papers, she said: “I just remember someone suggesting a photo, and they told us to go get on the couch. And so Andrew and Virginia sat on the couch, and they put the puppet, the puppet on her lap.”
“And so then I sat on Andrew’s lap, and I believe on my own volition, and they took the puppet’s hands and put it on Virginia’s breast, and so Andrew put his on mine.”
Metro reported that Ms Giuffre also alleged in an unpublished manuscript that Prince Andrew had groped her with the doll, which they reported to be his own caricature puppet from the satirical ’80s British TV show Spitting Image, gifted to him by Ms Maxwell and Epstein.
Ms Giuffre, who is one of Epsteins accusers, said she was trafficked by Epstein and forced to have sex with his friends, including the British prince when she was 17 years old.
Prince Andrew has denied the allegations.
The new Court documents detailing “intimate” details of Ms Maxwell's relationship with Epstein were unsealed and made public on Thursday.
The interaction is just one in the lengthy deposition being used by US state prosecutors in their case against Ms Maxwell, 58, who they allege helped Epstein, her former boyfriend and business associate, recruit and groom underage girls for illegal sexual acts in the mid-1990s.
US District Judge Loretta Preska in New York ordered a transcript of the testimony and other documents to be released by 9am on Thursday.
Lawyers had argued that making the deposition public could endanger Maxwell's right to a fair trial, because jurors might hold its contents against her.
Ms Maxwell has pleaded not guilty to charges of trafficking, sexual exploitation and abuse of minors, and not guilty to perjury for having denied involvement in the deposition.
The 58-year-old was arrested on 2 July in New Hampshire, where prosecutors said she had been hiding out, and her trial has been scheduled for July 2021.
Epstein killed himself in a New York jail last year, while awaiting trial on charges relating to the trafficking and sexual abuse of minors.