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Did You See That Video of the Subway Rat Hauling the Crab?

When Hurricane Ida struck New York last month, an incredible, terrifying scene occurred in the subway station at 28th and Seventh Avenue in Midtown Manhattan. Water began gushing from under the platform in a violent, torrid geyser, turning the subway into a Universal ride.

One rider captured the moment on a smartphone and, within an hour, the video was posted to the Instagram account SubwayCreatures, where it racked up hundreds of thousands of views. TV stations across the globe picked up the 20-second clip, which became a defining image of the deadly storm, if not the precarity of urban life in a warming world.

That the clip first appeared on SubwayCreatures was fitting. The account, which has been around since 2013, aims to provide a voyeuristic look at the New York City Transit system, but it has also become a clearinghouse of breaking news and viral videos.

Like any reality show, SubwayCreatures focuses on the bizarre, the sensational, the comic and, occasionally and for good measure, the surprisingly poignant. It is not interested in your humdrum daily commute, but rather the crazy incident that snaps you from your dead-eyed stare. It uses the great equalizer — the facet of city life with which every New Yorker but the wealthiest must engage — to channel and broadcast our collective id.

Recent posts include a video of a rat on the tracks hauling off a crab; a photo of a seated male rider casually looking at his phone while clutching a blowup sex doll; and a guy wearing face paint like the “Batman” villain Joker and juggling a butterfly knife.

Daring passenger-on-the-tracks rescues provide the occasional high-stakes drama. Buskers appear regularly. So do animals, whether a raft of ducks or a man in a body suit with fabric plumage.

“Whenever you think you saw the wildest thing on that page, there’s always something the next day that makes you forget,” said Shannan Ferry, an anchor and reporter for NY1 who counts herself among the account’s 2.4 million followers. “The New York City subway is the gift that keeps on giving.”

SubwayCreatures gets virtually all of its content from fellow riders, who see something striking, take out their smartphones (discreetly, one hopes) and send the photo or video to the account’s creator, listed as @rickmcguire13.

It will shock no one to learn that @rickmcguire13, whose real name is Rick McGuire, is a veteran TV producer who lives in Hell’s Kitchen and specializes in viral videos. He once worked on a clip show called “truTV Presents: World’s Dumbest …” and spent several years freelancing for MTV and other networks.

SubwayCreatures began as a hobby website, with Mr. McGuire posting videos that he took, and aggregating weird images he scoured from the web. But the Instagram account has since grown so popular — and lucrative — that it has become his full-time job.

Mr. McGuire makes money by licensing the videos to media outlets and clip shows such as MTV’s “Ridiculousness.” He also runs sponsored posts: recent examples include a video of the Irish singer-songwriter Hozier performing in the subway for Columbia Records, and videos of people moving large, weird items on the subway paid for by Openigloo, a landlord review site.

Mr. McGuire, who receives dozens of submissions each day for SubwayCreatures and two other Instagram accounts he manages, WhatIsNewYork and WhatNewYorkEats, said his main challenge is seeing the human comedy with fresh eyes.

“There’s a part of me that’s completely desensitized,” said Mr. McGuire, sitting on a recent evening in Union Square Park, where he enjoys people watching. “You really see the worst of New Yorkers. I have to think, ‘What would a normal person think of this?’”

The rat and the crab, however, was a no-brainer. “People eat these videos up,” Mr. McGuire said. “It was a ‘Finding Nemo’ situation — the beginning, or the end, of a Disney movie.”

Mr. McGuire, who is 37, said he avoids posting conflicts — the camera always turns on midway through the argument, making it difficult to judge what transpired. He also stays clear of politics.

What about nudity and other lewd behavior?

“I get that at least once a day,” Mr. McGuire said. Earlier that day, in fact, he had posted a video of a woman rubbing a man’s nipple on a packed train car. “I was worried” that it went too far, he said. “But I thought it was so out there and wild.”

When people submit videos to SubwayCreatures, they must agree to sign away their copyrights. If Mr. McGuire licenses someone’s video, however, he cuts them in on the deal. “It incentivizes people to continue sending videos in,” he said.

On the day that Ida hit, Mr. McGuire anticipated a busy night and set up a command center in his apartment, where he monitored several weather-tracking apps. He told his girlfriend, “You gotta just let me go.”

Mr. McGuire received more than 800 videos, he said, and was fielding requests from TV producers in Japan, Switzerland and Germany. “I was up to 3 or 4 a.m.,” he said. “In my world, you have to be first. You don’t want to be the second to post a video.”

Mr. McGuire has come to think of himself “almost like a stringer for the media,” especially during events that affect the subway like storms.

Still, he said, his favorite videos are less dramatic, what he called “New York moments.” Like when someone’s luggage wheel got stuck in the closing doors, and the other passengers all got up to help, mostly to get the train moving again.

Mr. McGuire likes to post real acts of kindness, too, but rarely receives them. “No one is recording for the good things,” he said.

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Live Updates: Accuser Says Maxwell Was Like an Older Sister Before Epstein’s Abuse Began

ImageA protester writes on the ground on Monday outside the courthouse in Manhattan where Ghislaine Maxwell is being tried on federal sex-trafficking charges. 
Credit…Carlo Allegri/Reuters

The 14-year-old girl from Florida was away at summer camp in Michigan in 1994, she said, when a “tall thin woman” with a “cute little Yorkie” walked by.

The woman stopped at the bench where the girl and her friends were eating ice cream, and the girls asked if they could pet the dog. After a while the friends left.

But the 14-year-old stayed, and soon a man joined her and the woman at the bench. He asked about her favorite classes in school and said he was a benefactor who liked to help people. Then he asked for her phone number.

Testifying on Tuesday in the sex-trafficking trial of Ghislaine Maxwell, the 14-year-old from Florida, now an adult identified in court only as “Jane,” told jurors how what seemed like a chance encounter with Ms. Maxwell — the woman with the Yorkie — and Jeffrey Epstein led to years of sexual abuse.

That abuse sometimes involved groups of people, she said: “Kissing, oral sex on each other, oral sex on Jeffrey, full on intercourse.” Sometimes, she said, Ms. Maxwell took part in the sex acts.

Weeks after the initial meeting, Jane said she was back at home in Palm Beach when she got an invitation to visit Mr. Epstein at his house for tea. The home was impressive, she said, and so were Mr. Epstein and Ms. Maxwell, even as their conduct was sometimes confusing or overwhelming.

“From the very beginning there was a lot of bragging about how they were friends with everyone,” Jane said, adding that Ms. Maxwell and Mr. Epstein would engage in “name dropping.” The effect was to suggest that “they were very well connected and affluent.”

Ms. Maxwell often came across like a big sister figure — “odd,” Jane said, “but nice.” But soon, Ms. Maxwell began talking to her about sex, Jane said.

She began going to Mr. Epstein’s house on average once every week or two, she said, and Ms. Maxwell was a steady presence. On one day, she was among a group of women who were topless beside Mr. Epstein’s pool. On another, she took Jane shopping to Victoria’s Secret for underwear: “white cotton briefs, basic looking ones.”

One day when she was still 14, Jane testified, Mr. Epstein told her he could introduce her to talent agents. Then he “abruptly” ended a conversation about her interests and her future and guided her into a pool house, taking her hand and saying “follow me.”

Inside the pool house, Jane said Mr. Epstein led her to a couch or futon and took off his pants. He then pulled her on top of him and “proceeded to masturbate,” she said, speaking in a slow halting voice. After he was done, she added, he went into a bathroom to clean up, then “acted like nothing had happened.”

“I was frozen in fear,” Jane said. She testified that she did not tell anyone about what had happened inside the pool house, adding: “I was terrified and felt gross and felt ashamed.”

Similar incidents followed, Jane said. While she was still 14, she said, Mr. Epstein “would touch my breasts, he would touch my vagina.”

She said she touched him “everywhere” including his feet, nipples and penis.

Sometimes Ms. Maxwell would take part in the abuse. And, she said, sometimes multiple people would be involved. Those incidents, like her first experience inside the pool house, would often begin abruptly, Jane said.

A group of people would be socializing when Mr. Epstein or Ms. Maxwell would “summon” them into his bedroom or to a massage room. There, Jane said Ms. Maxwell and others would disrobe and Mr. Epstein would lie down. That, Jane said, would “turn into this orgy.”

Credit…Dave Sanders for The New York Times

One day in 1994, a 14-year-old girl identified only as Jane was seated with friends at a picnic table at a Michigan summer camp for talented children when a man and a woman walked by, a federal prosecutor told a Manhattan jury on Monday.

The man and woman were Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell, the prosecutor, Lara Pomerantz, said. He introduced himself as a donor who gave scholarships to young people at the camp; and after more conversation, the couple and Jane discovered they all lived in Palm Beach, Fla. They asked for Jane’s number.

“What Jane didn’t know then was that this meeting at summer camp was the beginning of a nightmare that would last for years,” Ms. Pomerantz told the jury. “What she didn’t know then was that this man and woman were predators.”

Jane took the witness stand on Tuesday in Federal District Court, the first of four women whom prosecutors have described as underage victims of Ms. Maxwell and Mr. Epstein, and who, now adults, are expected to testify under pseudonyms or partial names in Ms. Maxwell’s trial. Ms. Maxwell has been charged with grooming the four girls to be abused by Mr. Epstein between 1994 and 2004, when they were underage. She has pleaded not guilty.

Testifying on Tuesday, Jane said she was 14 when she met Ms. Maxwell, who came across like a big sister figure — “odd,” Jane said, “but nice.”

But soon, Ms. Maxwell began talking to her about sex, Jane said. She began going to Mr. Epstein’s house on average once every week or two, she said, and soon, she had her first sexual encounter with Mr. Epstein. She said the two were having a conversation about her future.

After Mr. Epstein told her he could introduce her to talent agents, she said, he led her from his office to the pool house. She said he sat down on a couch, pulled his sweatpants down, and then pulled her on top of him while masturbating.

“I was frozen in fear, I had never seen a penis before,” Jane said. “I was terrified and felt gross and like I felt ashamed.”

In opening statements to the jury on Monday, Ms. Pomerantz portrayed Jane as a child victim of abuse, while Ms. Maxwell’s lawyer, Bobbi C. Sternheim, focused on her as an adult. She described Jane as an actress and singer who had performed in commercials, sitcoms, and movies, and who today is in a soap opera.

“She is a pro at playing roles,” Ms. Sternheim said, asserting that Jane had changed her story in order to obtain millions of dollars in compensation from a fund established for Mr. Epstein’s victims.

By the government’s account, after Jane returned from the camp to her Florida home, Ms. Maxwell and Mr. Epstein befriended her — part of what the government has said was a process of “grooming,” to lower her defenses. They took her to the movies and on shopping trips, and Mr. Epstein regularly gave her hundreds of dollars, knowing her family needed money, Ms. Pomerantz said.

Mr. Epstein started sexually abusing Jane when she was still 14, Ms. Pomerantz told the jury. The lawyer said that Ms. Maxwell was sometimes in the room during the abuse, including when Mr. Epstein engaged in sex acts with Jane. The abuse went on for years, she said.

But Ms. Sternheim said that when Jane visited Mr. Epstein’s Palm Beach home, they talked about music and the arts. “Nothing amiss happened,” the defense lawyer said. “That’s it.”

Ms. Sternheim said that Jane had not initially wanted to be involved in any criminal case involving Mr. Epstein. But that changed, she said, after Mr. Epstein was found dead in his jail cell in 2019 while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges, and the medical examiner ruled he hanged himself. Jane then hired a lawyer and decided to assist the government, Ms. Sternheim said, believing it would help her secure a claim with the Epstein victim fund.

“When money was on the line, she changed her mind,” the defense lawyer said.

“She is a consummate actress,” Ms. Sternheim added, “and as her script and characters change, so has her story that you will hear in this courtroom.”

Credit…Dave Sanders for The New York Times

When Jeffrey Epstein traveled on one of his private jets, the cockpit door was always closed during flight, one of his longtime pilots testified Tuesday in Federal District Court in Manhattan, making it impossible to see what was going on in the passenger area.

Larry Visoski, who worked for Mr. Epstein for nearly 30 years, was the first witness called by prosecutors in the sex-trafficking trial of Ghislaine Maxwell, Mr. Epstein’s longtime companion.

Federal prosecutors in the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office used Mr. Visoski’s testimony, which began late Monday afternoon, to introduce photographs and descriptions of Mr. Epstein’s many residences and his private planes. The planes have long been a source of public fascination and lore, as Mr. Epstein was known to travel with prominent politicians and Hollywood celebrities as well as young women — and girls, some accusers have said — to entertain guests on board.

The names of some high-profile passengers came out under cross-examination on Tuesday, as a lawyer for Ms. Maxwell, Christian Everdell, asked Mr. Visoski if he remembered flying “pretty important people,” naming Bill Clinton, Donald J. Trump, Prince Andrew, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and the actor Kevin Spacey. Mr. Visoski said that he remembered traveling with all but Mr. Kennedy and that he did not recall whether he ever flew the family of Mr. Trump, who traveled on the plane before his presidency.

When Mr. Visoski first came to work for Mr. Epstein, in 1991, the financier had a Gulfstream plane, he testified, outfitted with leather chairs and a burgundy carpet. The cockpit was separated by a door that was always closed, Mr. Visoski said.

In around 2001, Mr. Epstein bought a Boeing 727, a larger aircraft whose interior, Mr. Visoski said, had multiple compartments, including a full kitchen and what he called “the Round Room,” which had a doughnut-shaped couch.

There, too, the cockpit door was always closed, Mr. Visoski said.

Mr. Epstein sometimes introduced him to guests as they boarded the plane. That included a young woman, a singer identified in court as Jane, whom Mr. Epstein brought into the cockpit. Mr. Visoski described her as “a mature woman, with piercing, powder blue eyes.”

Prosecutors have introduced Jane as one of Mr. Maxwell’s underage accusers. She is likely to testify at the trial, and jurors were shown a copy of her birth certificate.

Under cross-examination by Mr. Everdell, Mr. Visoski confirmed that he could watch the passengers boarding the planes. He said that sometimes, they included young girls traveling with their families, but that he did not see any unaccompanied young women who looked younger than 20.

Mr. Visoski told Mr. Everdell that he “never saw any sexual activity” on the flights. Asked if he ever saw sex acts with underage girls, Mr. Visoski said, “I certainly did not.”

He also said that Mr. Epstein did not mandate that the cockpit door be closed, and that he had invited them to walk to the back of the aircraft if, for example, they had to use the restroom.

“Like right now,” Mr. Visoski said, drawing laughs from the courtroom.

During his cross-examination, Mr. Visoski was asked what kind of advance notice he might have about Mr. Epstein’s passengers, particularly if they had privacy and security concerns. Mr. Everdell asked specifically about Mr. Clinton. “If he were going to be on the flight, you might be told that information in advance,” Mr. Everdell said. “You’d want to make sure the plane looked nice.”

“Yes,” Mr. Visoski said.

Credit…Dave Sanders for The New York Times

More than two years after Jeffrey Epstein was found dead in a jail cell a month after his arrest on sex-trafficking charges, Ghislaine Maxwell — the woman who prosecutors say helped him to recruit, groom and abuse young girls — went on trial on Monday in Manhattan.

Ms. Maxwell and Mr. Epstein were “partners in crime,” a federal prosecutor, Lara Pomerantz, told the jury. Ms. Maxwell sexually exploited young girls by developing their trust, helped to normalize abusive sexual conduct and then “served them up” to Mr. Epstein in a decade-long scheme, the prosecutor said.

“The defendant and Epstein made young girls believe that their dreams could come true,” Ms. Pomerantz said in Federal District Court. “They made them feel special, but that was a cover.”

“Behind closed doors,” Ms. Pomerantz said, “the defendant and Epstein were committing heinous crimes. They were sexually abusing teenage girls.”

The trial of Ms. Maxwell, 59, the daughter of a British media mogul and a longtime fixture on the New York social scene, has been widely seen as the courtroom reckoning that Mr. Epstein avoided when he took his own life in prison.

Mr. Epstein was arrested in July 2019 on charges that he recruited dozens of girls to engage in sex acts with him at his estate in Palm Beach, Fla., and his mansion in Manhattan, paying them hundreds of dollars in cash after each encounter, a federal indictment said. He died the following month.

Ms. Maxwell, who was arrested in July 2020, faces charges that include sex trafficking of a minor, enticing and transporting minors to engage in illegal sex acts and three conspiracy counts. She could face up to 70 years in prison if convicted of all counts.

She has steadfastly maintained her innocence, and her lawyer, Bobbi C. Sternheim, told the jury that the evidence would not support the charges against her client. She suggested the memories of the Ms. Maxwell’s accusers were unreliable and tainted by “constant media reports.”

She also described Ms. Maxwell as a “scapegoat” for Mr. Epstein’s actions, adding, “Ever since Eve was accused of tempting Adam with the apple, women have been blamed for the bad behavior of men.”

Credit…Dave Sanders for The New York Times

The sex-trafficking trial of Ghislaine Maxwell, Jeffrey Epstein’s former romantic partner and employee, got underway in Federal District Court in Manhattan on Monday with opening statements and testimony from one of the pilots who flew Mr. Epstein’s private planes.

In the coming weeks, jurors are expected to hear testimony from four women who prosecutors said were abused as teenagers by Mr. Epstein.

Ms. Maxwell, the daughter of a British media mogul, faces six counts, stemming from what prosecutors say was her role in the sexual exploitation of the women. The charges include enticing a minor to travel to engage in criminal sexual activity and transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity.

Here are some takeaways from the first day of the trial:

The jury will hear the story of Jane, who was 14 when she met Mr. Epstein.

In describing how evidence would show that Ms. Maxwell helped Mr. Epstein traffic and sexually abuse teenage girls, a prosecutor sketched out the story of one accuser referred to only by a first name, Jane.

Jane met Mr. Epstein and Ms. Maxwell in 1994, the prosecutor, Lara Pomerantz, told jurors: a seemingly innocent encounter that began at a picnic table with the realization that the two adults and the teenage girl all lived in Palm Beach, Fla. It ended with Jane providing her phone number.

That was the “beginning of a nightmare that would last for years,” Ms. Pomerantz said. She said that Ms. Maxwell helped win Jane’s trust with shopping trips and “helped normalize abusive sexual conduct” at the hands of Mr. Epstein.

The jury would hear directly from Jane and from three other women who had similar experiences as teenage girls, the prosecutor said.

The defense will try to show that the four accusers’ memories are unreliable.

A few minutes later, however, a defense lawyer, Bobbi C. Sternheim, told jurors that recollections from witnesses like Jane, who are expected to testify under oath about Mr. Epstein’s abuse, were not to be trusted.

She suggested the accusers had “unreliable and suspect” memories that could have been “corrupted” over the years or “contaminated” by “constant media reports.” She also suggested the accusers were motivated by a desire to win “a big jackpot of money” from a possible civil action against Mr. Epstein’s estate.

“Each accuser’s story is thin,” she told jurors. “They have been impacted by lawyers, by media, by things they have read and things they have heard and by money, big bucks.”

Another defense strategy will be to shift blame to Mr. Epstein.

Ms. Sternheim painted Ms. Maxwell as a “scapegoat” who is on trial only because Mr. Epstein had killed himself in a federal jail. That suicide, she told jurors, left “a gaping hole in the pursuit of justice” for many people. Ms. Maxwell is “filling that hole,” Ms. Sternheim added. “Filling that empty chair.”

“Ever since Eve was accused of tempting Adam with the apple,” she said, “women have been blamed for the bad behavior of men.”

The prosecution used one of Mr. Epstein’s pilots to set the scene for jurors.

The first witness for the prosecution was not one of the accusers but a private pilot: Lawrence Paul Visoski Jr., who had worked for Mr. Epstein from 1991 to 2019.

Mr. Visoski described, in broad strokes, the role Ms. Maxwell played in managing Mr. Epstein’s households and properties, describing their relationship as “couple-ish.” Guided by photographs presented as evidence, Mr. Visoski also described ferrying Mr. Epstein and his guests to various luxury residences in New York City; Paris; the U.S. Virgin Islands; Palm Beach, Fla.; and Santa Fe, N.M.

“Pretty much every four days we were on the road flying somewhere,” he said. Mr. Visoski said he did not always know precisely who was flying on Mr. Epstein’s planes with him.

Credit…Bebeto Matthews/Associated Press

The sex trafficking trial of Ghislaine Maxwell, a former girlfriend and longtime associate of Jeffrey Epstein, is set to begin Monday. Here are some of the events that led to the highly anticipated trial:

July 7, 2019

Mr. Epstein was arrested at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey.

Federal prosecutors accused Mr. Epstein of engaging in criminal sex acts with minors and women, some as young as 14.

Aug. 10, 2019

Mr. Epstein killed himself in his Manhattan jail cell.

Mr. Epstein hanged himself in his jail cell in the Metropolitan Correctional Center; he was not under suicide watch at the time of his death. He had just been denied bail on federal sex trafficking charges.

March 2020

Ms. Maxwell sued Mr. Epstein’s estate.

Ms. Maxwell said in the lawsuit that Mr. Epstein and Darren Indyke, a longtime lawyer for Mr. Epstein and the executor of his estate, both promised to pay her legal fees, but she said they hadn’t. Her legal fees mounted as more women claimed she helped Mr. Epstein recruit them for sexual activity when they were underage.

July 2020

Ms. Maxwell was arrested in New Hampshire.

The indictment listed three minor victims who say they were recruited by Ms. Maxwell from 1994 to 1997 for criminal sexual activity.

July 2020

Ms. Maxwell asks for release on $5 million bond.

Her lawyers asked a federal judge in Manhattan to release her from jail on $5 million bond. Judge Alison J. Nathan of the Federal District Court in Manhattan denied the request after prosecutors argued that Ms. Maxwell posed a high risk of fleeing before her trial.

December 2020

Ms. Maxwell calls jail “oppressive.”

Ms. Maxwell asked again to be released, this time on $28.5 million bond, arguing that the conditions of her Brooklyn jail were “oppressive.” But once again the request was denied, after prosecutors said the probability she would flee was extremely high. Prosecutors also said the conditions in jail were reasonable, pointing to her personal shower, phone and two computers.

March 2021

Ms. Maxwell is charged with sex trafficking a 14-year-old.

A new indictment accuses Ms. Maxwell of grooming an additional minor. She is charged with sex trafficking a 14-year-old girl who engaged in sexual acts with Mr. Epstein at his Palm Beach, Fla., estate.

November 2021

Ms. Maxwell goes on trial.

Opening arguments are set for Monday.

Credit…Johannes Eisele/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Ghislaine Maxwell faces six counts in her federal trial, which relate to accusations that she facilitated the sexual exploitation of girls for her longtime companion, the disgraced financier and sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

The six counts center on the accounts of four accusers. The charges include:

  • One count of enticement of a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, in which Ms. Maxwell is accused of coercing one girl — identified as Minor Victim 1 in charging documents — to travel from Florida to New York, between 1994 and 1997, to engage in sex acts with Mr. Epstein.

  • One count of transportation of a minor with intent to engage in illegal sex acts, which accuses Ms. Maxwell of bringing the same girl from Florida to New York on numerous occasions.

  • One count of sex trafficking of a minor, which charges that between 2001 and 2004, Ms. Maxwell recruited, enticed and transported another girl — identified in the charges as Minor Victim 4 — to engage in at least one commercial sex act with Mr. Epstein.

  • And three counts of conspiracy, which are related to the other counts. The conspiracy counts in the indictment are more expansive, involving all four accusers and homes in the United States and in London. These charges involve accusations that Ms. Maxwell worked with Mr. Epstein to secure underage girls for sex acts, for example, by encouraging one to give Mr. Epstein massages in London between 1994 and 1995.

Ms. Maxwell, 59, could face a lengthy prison term if convicted. Conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of minors carries a maximum 40 year sentence; the other charges have maximum penalties of five or 10 years.

When Ms. Maxwell was arrested in July 2020, she was also charged with two counts of perjury, accusing her of lying under oath in 2016 during depositions for a lawsuit related to Mr. Epstein. In April, Judge Alison J. Nathan granted the defense’s request to sever the perjury counts, which will be tried separately.

Credit…U.S. District Court For The Southern District Of New York, via Reuters

During a pretrial conference a week before the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell was set to begin in earnest, a prosecutor indicated that the government and defense still were at odds over some issues.

A defense lawyer began to respond, but Judge Alison J. Nathan cut him off.

“I don’t want a speech,” she said, directing that the parties have a “mature, reasonable discussion and come to some agreement where agreement can be had.” If good-faith disputes remained, she said, they could be put in writing, adding, “I’ll be happy to resolve it.”

The moment came and went quickly, but it underscored an observable fact about Judge Nathan, 49, now in her 10th year as a member of Federal District Court for the Southern District of New York: She has firm command of her courtroom.

“She is known for her intellect and independence,” said Daniel C. Richman, a professor of criminal law at Columbia Law School. “She has a crisp, no-nonsense attitude toward legal issues and how they get presented and resolved.”

In the Maxwell case, Judge Nathan has already dispensed with an array of pretrial disputes — some as narrow as whether prosecutors could refer to her accusers as “victims” (the judge ruled they could when describing the four women whose accounts are at the center of the indictment); and more weighty questions, like whether Ms. Maxwell, 59, should be granted bail. (The judge has repeatedly denied her requests, most recently three weeks ago.)

But when Ms. Maxwell’s lawyers complained on Nov. 1 that their client was awakened at 3:45 a.m. for a court hearing and then had to wait for hours in a cold cellblock with little food, Judge Nathan ordered that Ms. Maxwell be transported to and from the courthouse “in a way that is humane, proper and consistent with security protocols.”

Just two weeks ago, President Biden nominated Judge Nathan to the prestigious U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York. The White House noted at the time that she would be the second openly gay woman to serve on any federal circuit court if she was confirmed by the Senate.

In at least two cases in recent years, Judge Nathan, who was appointed in 2011 to the District Court by President Barack Obama, sharply criticized the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan after it was accused of failing to turn over potentially favorable evidence to the defense before trial.

On Nov. 17, after taking the bench before another day of questioning prospective jurors, Judge Nathan briefly acknowledged the news of her potential elevation.

“Needless to say I am honored,” she said, adding that if she were nominated, she would continue to do her “day job, which means presiding over this trial through completion and handling the literally hundreds of other civil and criminal matters on my docket.”

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How Are You Dealing With the Omicron Variant?

Here we go again.

Just as many of us were becoming comfortable with hosting family get-togethers, returning to work or rejoining the gym, a new variant of the coronavirus is creating fresh uncertainty. Not knowing what’s in store with the Omicron variant can take us back to other turbulent times during the pandemic, when confusion was a regular part of life.

As we enter this next phase of unpredictability, we’d like to know: How are you feeling, and what are you doing about it? We may use your response in an upcoming newsletter. If you’d like to participate, fill out this form below.

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Pilot Recalls Celebrity Passengers on Epstein’s Jets

When Jeffrey Epstein traveled on one of his private jets, the cockpit door was always closed during flight, one of his longtime pilots testified Tuesday in Federal District Court in Manhattan, making it impossible to see what was going on in the passenger area.

Larry Visoski, who worked for Mr. Epstein for nearly 30 years, was the first witness called by prosecutors in the sex-trafficking trial of Ghislaine Maxwell, Mr. Epstein’s longtime companion.

Federal prosecutors in the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office used Mr. Visoski’s testimony, which began late Monday afternoon, to introduce photographs and descriptions of Mr. Epstein’s many residences and his private planes. The planes have long been a source of public fascination and lore, as Mr. Epstein was known to travel with prominent politicians and Hollywood celebrities as well as young women — and girls, some accusers have said — to entertain guests on board.

The names of some high-profile passengers came out under cross-examination on Tuesday, as a lawyer for Ms. Maxwell, Christian Everdell, asked Mr. Visoski if he remembered flying “pretty important people,” naming Bill Clinton, Donald J. Trump, Prince Andrew, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and the actor Kevin Spacey. Mr. Visoski said that he remembered traveling with all but Mr. Kennedy and that he did not recall whether he ever flew the family of Mr. Trump, who traveled on the plane before his presidency.

When Mr. Visoski first came to work for Mr. Epstein, in 1991, the financier had a Gulfstream plane, he testified, outfitted with leather chairs and a burgundy carpet. The cockpit was separated by a door that was always closed, Mr. Visoski said.

In around 2001, Mr. Epstein bought a Boeing 727, a larger aircraft whose interior, Mr. Visoski said, had multiple compartments, including a full kitchen and what he called “the Round Room,” which had a doughnut-shaped couch.

There, too, the cockpit door was always closed, Mr. Visoski said.

Mr. Epstein sometimes introduced him to guests as they boarded the plane. That included a young woman, a singer identified in court as Jane, whom Mr. Epstein brought into the cockpit. Mr. Visoski described her as “a mature woman, with piercing, powder blue eyes.”

Prosecutors have introduced Jane as one of Mr. Maxwell’s underage accusers. She is likely to testify at the trial, and jurors were shown a copy of her birth certificate.

Under cross-examination by Mr. Everdell, Mr. Visoski confirmed that he could watch the passengers boarding the planes. He said that sometimes, they included young girls traveling with their families, but that he did not see any unaccompanied young women who looked younger than 20.

Mr. Visoski told Mr. Everdell that he “never saw any sexual activity” on the flights. Asked if he ever saw sex acts with underage girls, Mr. Visoski said, “I certainly did not.”

He also said that Mr. Epstein did not mandate that the cockpit door be closed, and that he had invited them to walk to the back of the aircraft if, for example, they had to use the restroom.

“Like right now,” Mr. Visoski said, drawing laughs from the courtroom.

During his cross-examination, Mr. Visoski was asked what kind of advance notice he might have about Mr. Epstein’s passengers, particularly if they had privacy and security concerns. Mr. Everdell asked specifically about Mr. Clinton. “If he were going to be on the flight, you might be told that information in advance,” Mr. Everdell said. “You’d want to make sure the plane looked nice.”

“Yes,” Mr. Visoski said.

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