A psychologist and expert on “false memories” who has testified or consulted in high-profile trials — including Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby’s — was called to the stand in Ghislaine Maxwell’s case by her defense lawyers Thursday as part of their attempts to undermine her accusers’ testimony.
Elizabeth Loftus, a professor at the University of California, Irvine, was questioned by Maxwell attorney Bobbi Sternheim, about how a person’s memories can be influenced or constructed.
“Emotion is no guarantee that you’re dealing with an authentic memory,” she told the jury.
Loftus has testified or consulted in some 300 trials since 1975, including those of Michael Jackson, O.J. Simpson, Robert Durst and Ted Bundy.
She testified that her research has shown personal biases can influence memories — and people are more likely to accept “suggestions” that correspond with their beliefs or motives.
“People do seem to be more willing to accept suggestions when it’s going to fit with their prior beliefs or fit with their motives,” Loftus said.
During cross-examination, Assistant US Attorney Lara Pomerantz grilled Loftus over the fact that the expert has only ever testified for the prosecution one time out of 150.
She also brought up a 1991 book by Loftus titled, “Witness for the Defense.”
“You wrote a book called ‘Witness for the Defense’?” Pomerantz asked.
“Yes,” Loftus replied.
“You haven’t written a book called ‘Impartial Witness,’ right?”
“No,” Loftus said.