British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, an ex-girlfriend of convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein, is facing charges in the US after being arrested by the FBI.
She is accused of contributing to Epstein’s bullying against minors, helping to recruit and take care of victims who are known to be minors.
She was reportedly arrested in New Hampshire and should be in federal court later Thursday.
Ms. Maxwell had previously denied any involvement or knowledge of Epstein’s alleged sexual misconduct.
Epstein died in prison on August 10, as he, without any chance of bail, was awaiting trial on charges of sex trafficking.
He was arrested last year in New York on charges of running a network of underage girls – some of whom are only 14 years old – for sex. His death was defined as suicide.
What are the charges?
Four of the six charges relate to 1994-1997, when Ms. Maxwell was, according to the indictment, among Epstein’s closest associates, as well as in “close relations” with him. The other two charges are perjury charges in 2016.
The indictment stated that Ms. Maxwell “assisted, facilitated, and facilitated the ill-treatment of Jeffrey Epstein with underage girls, in particular by helping Epstein recruit, care for, and ultimately mock victims of which Maxwell and Epstein were under the age of 18 “.
In particular, she is accused of:
- Conspiracy to encourage minors to travel to engage in illegal sexual acts
- Seducing a minor to travel to engage in illegal sexual acts
- Conspiracy to transport minors with the intention of engaging in criminal sexual activity
- Transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity
- She is accused of caring for several underage girls to have sex with Epstein. She allegedly tried to make friends with them, asking about their lives and families, and then she and Epstein established friendships, bringing minor victims to the movies or shopping.
Building an understanding, Ms. Maxwell would “try to normalise sexual abuse for a minor victim by… discussing sexual topics, undressing in front of the victim, being present when a minor victim was undressed, and/or being present for sex acts involving the minor victim and Epstein”.
“Maxwell and Epstein worked together to entice these minor victims to travel to Epstein’s residences – his residence in New York City on the Upper East Side, as well as Palm Beach, Florida, and Santa Fe, New Mexico,” Audrey Strauss, acting US attorney for the Southern District of New York, told reporters.
“Some of the acts of abuse also took place in Maxwell’s residence in London, England.”
The perjury counts relate to depositions she gave to a New York court on 22 April and 22 July 2016. The charge sheet says she “repeatedly lied when questioned about her conduct, including in relation to some of the minor victims”.
“Maxwell lied because the truth, as alleged, was almost unspeakable,” said Ms Strauss.
“Maxwell enticed minor girls, got them to trust her, then delivered them into the trap that she and Epstein had set for them. She pretended to be a woman they could trust. All the while she was setting them up to be sexually abused by Epstein and, in some cases, by Maxwell herself.”
What is the background?
Charges against Epstein were made long before the parents of a 14-year-old girl stated that he molested her in 2005. As part of the legal agreement, he avoided federal charges and since 2008 is listed in the New York registry of sex offenders at the third level. ,
But he was again arrested in New York on July 6, 2019, and charged with sex trafficking of underage girls for a number of years.
Some of Epstein’s alleged victims accused Ms. Maxwell of bringing them into their circle for sexual assault by his and his friends.
One of them told the BBC Panorama that Miss Maxwell “controlled the girls. She was like Madam”.
Miss Maxwell denies any violation.
Earlier this year, she sued Epstein’s property, demanding reimbursement of legal fees and security costs. She “regularly receives threats to her life and safety,” the court documents on the case say.
Another of Epstein’s alleged victims, Virginia Giuffre, accused Ms. Maxwell of having recruited her as a massage therapist at the age of 15.
Details of this charge against Ms. Maxwell appeared in documents opened by a U.S. judge last August in the defamation case in 2015, but are not part of the charges brought against Ms. Maxwell in July 2020.
Who is Ghislaine Maxwell?
Miss Maxwell is the daughter of the late British media magnate Robert Maxwell.
It is believed that she was well acquainted with the public, introduced Epstein to many of her wealthy and influential friends, including Bill Clinton and the Duke of York (who was accused in court documents of 2015 of touching a woman in the American house of Jeffrey Epstein, although the court later struck out charges against the duke).
Buckingham Palace said that “any suggestion of improper behavior by minors” by the duke is “absolutely untrue.”
Ms. Maxwell has been largely out of public view since 2016.
In a BBC interview last year, the Duke of York said he met with Maxwell last year before Epstein was arrested and charged. However, they did not discuss Epstein, he said.
Last month, the US attorney said Prince Andrew was “trying to portray himself” in an effort to collaborate with the Epstein investigation.
American lawyer Geoffrey Berman said that Prince Andrew “repeatedly rejected our request” to schedule an interview.
The Duke’s lawyers had previously rejected claims that he hadn’t collaborated with, saying that he had offered help three times.
Prince Andrew retreated from royal duties last year.
Asked about the prince on Thursday, acting Attorney Strauss said: “I am not going to comment on anyone’s status in this investigation but I will say that we would welcome Prince Andrew coming in to talk with us, we would like to have the benefit of his statement.”