Ghislaine Maxwell comes off as ‘easily provoked’ in her blockbuster 418-page deposition, forensic psychologist says

  • Last week, a 418-page deposition that Ghislaine Maxwell took in 2016 was unsealed.
  • In it, Maxwell endures seven hours of questioning about her relationship with Jeffrey Epstein and allegations that they trafficked and sexually abused young girls.
  • Cynthia Calkins, a forensic psychologist and a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, told Insider that Maxwell's answers could indicate that she has something to hide.
  • Maxwell's lawyers didn't immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.
  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

Ghislaine Maxwell's blockbuster 418-page deposition — taken in 2016 and made public last week — shows the Jeffrey Epstein associate "bristling" and appearing "easily provoked" at key moments, according to a forensic psychologist.

Cynthia Calkins, a clinical forensic psychologist and an associate psychology professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, told Insider that, for someone who had years to prepare with her lawyers, Maxwell appeared surprisingly irritable at some of the questions she received.

"There's a surprising amount of snappishness," Calkins told Insider. "She appears to be easily provoked in a way that I don't think I would — if I had the money, or if our lives were on the line."

The deposition was taken as part of a lawsuit brought by Virginia Giuffre, who has accused both Maxwell and Epstein of abusing her in a wide-ranging sex-trafficking ring.

Maxwell was deposed for seven hours in 2016, forced to answer intimate questions about her life with Epstein and whether she groomed young girls for sexual abuse. The transcript was kept under seal for four years, until Giuffre's lawyers, as well as the Miami Herald, successfully sued to have it released in light of the federal charges against Maxwell. In much of it, Maxwell deflects questions and repeatedly calls Giuffre a chronic liar.

Calkins, who has also written a number of books and scholarly works on sexual abuse, cautioned that we can't read into Maxwell's guilt based on how she appears in the deposition transcript alone.

"These are highly charged circumstances, and it's not unusual that anybody in this situation comes off as irritable and defensive and guarded and careful when you've got attorneys trying to pick apart your words like that," she said. "You or I, or anybody who's sitting there for seven hours, is probably going to show some irritability, some defensiveness, some carefulness."

At the same time, Calkins said, Maxwell's defensiveness made it seem like she had something to hide.

"My own read of it — she does seem to be hiding something," she said. "What she's hiding — who knows?"

Maxwell seems like she doesn't think she should be questioned at all, according to Calkins

Maxwell is currently in a federal jail in Brooklyn, under indictment on sex-trafficking charges, as well as a perjury charge for answers she gave in the deposition.

The deposition was at one point scheduled to take place in 2009 but had been delayed for another seven years. Calkins pointed out that it was surprising to see Maxwell lose her cool, given that she had so much time to prepare with her lawyers.

She described Maxwell — the socialite daughter of British business tycoon Robert Maxwell — as someone who was probably not used to being challenged.

"It's certainly possible that she's feeling rather entitled or doesn't think she should be subjected to these questions at all," Calkins said. "She's coming from a very privileged background that she's probably not had to deal with a lot of people challenging in her throughout her life in this way, and has probably been used to getting what she wants."

Ghislaine Maxwell appears via video link in Manhattan Federal Court, in New York City on July 14, 2020.
Reuters/Jane Rosenberg TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

In much of the deposition, Maxwell calls Giuffre a liar, categorically denying she took part in any inappropriate sexual relationships.

She "bristled" in responses to questions about recruiting girls for massages, Calkins said. Giuffre and federal prosecutors allege Maxwell used those massages as a segue for sexual abuse.

Jeffrey Pagliuca and Laura Menninger, the two Maxwell attorneys who represented her in the deposition, didn't immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

Maxwell was also questioned at length about her relationship with Epstein, with whom she closely associated between the early 1990s until some point in the mid-2000s. In the deposition, Giuffre's lawyer asked Maxwell whether she considered herself Epstein's girlfriend.

"That's a tricky question," Maxwell answered. "I would have liked to think of myself as his girlfriend."

Virginia Roberts holds a photo of herself at age 16, when she says Palm Beach multimillionaire Jeffrey Epstein began abusing her sexually.
Emily Michot/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Calkins said her response suggests Maxwell may be "bitter" about how her relationship with Epstein ended.

"It implies that, that maybe she wasn't [his girlfriend], or maybe he thought of this differently," she said. Maybe I'm reading too much into this, but … if it was clear from both sides that they were girlfriend and boyfriend, and that was without question, she would not have responded in that way."

"It seems like she's kind of bristling about something in that response," Calkins added. "Whether it's because she wanted to be his girlfriend and she wasn't at least by lack of his desire, or whether she's feeling a little snarky about this or bitter over something that ended."

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