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Jeffrey Epstein associate Ghislaine Maxwell arrested on sex-trafficking charges

Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell at Mar-a-Lago in 2000.
Jeffrey Epstein with Ghislaine Maxwell at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla., in 2000.
(Davidoff Studios / Getty Images)

British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell was arrested Thursday on charges she helped lure at least three girls — one as young as 14 — to be sexually abused by the late financier Jeffrey Epstein, who was accused of victimizing dozens of girls and women over many years.

According to the indictment, Maxwell, who lived for years with Epstein and was his frequent companion on trips around the world, facilitated his crimes and on some occasions joined him in sexually abusing the girls.

Epstein, 66, killed himself in a federal detention center in New York last summer while awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges.

Maxwell has, for years, been accused by many women of acting as a madam for Epstein, helping him scout underage girls for abuse, then hiring them to give him massages, during which the girls were pressured into sex acts. In one lawsuit, a woman alleged Maxwell was the “highest-ranking employee” of Epstein’s sex-trafficking enterprise. Those accusations, until now, never resulted in criminal charges.

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Maxwell, 58, was arrested in Bradford, N.H., where she was living on a wooded estate she purchased for $1 million in December. The FBI had been keeping tabs on her after she disappeared from public view after Epstein’s arrest a year ago.

“More recently we learned she had slithered away to a gorgeous property in New Hampshire, continuing to live a life of privilege while her victims live with the trauma inflicted upon them years ago,” William Sweeney, head of the FBI’s New York office, said at a news conference Thursday.

Officials at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York believed they had preserved footage of guards finding Jeffrey Epstein after he appeared to have attempted suicide, but actually saved a video from a different part of the jail, prosecutors said.

Jennifer Araoz, who says Epstein raped her when she was 15, said she feared the financier’s ring of conspirators for years.

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“Now that the ring has been taken down, I know that I can’t be hurt anymore,” Araoz, now 33, said in a statement. “Day after day, I have waited for the news that Maxwell would be arrested and held accountable for her actions. Her arrest is a step in that direction, and it truly means that the justice system didn’t forget about us.”

An indictment made public Thursday said Maxwell “assisted, facilitated and contributed to Jeffrey Epstein’s abuse of minor girls by, among other things, helping Epstein to recruit, groom, and ultimately abuse” girls under 18.

The indictment included counts of conspiracy to entice minors to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, enticement of a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, conspiracy to transport minors with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, and two counts of perjury.

“Maxwell lied because the truth, as alleged, was almost unspeakable,” said Audrey Strauss, the acting U.S. attorney in Manhattan.

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Messages were sent Thursday to several of Maxwell’s attorneys seeking comment. She has previously repeatedly denied wrongdoing and called some of the claims against her “absolute rubbish.”

U.S. prosecutors and attorneys for Britain’s Prince Andrew are sniping at one another across the Atlantic.

At a brief hearing Thursday, a magistrate judge ordered Maxwell to remain in custody while she is transferred to New York for a detention hearing there.

Among the most sensational accusations was a claim by one Epstein victim, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, that Maxwell arranged for her to have sex with Britain’s Prince Andrew at Maxwell’s London townhouse. Giuffre bolstered her allegations with a picture of herself, the prince and Maxwell, which Giuffre said was taken at the time.

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Andrew denied her story. The prince was not mentioned by name in the indictment, and the charges covered Maxwell’s dealings with Epstein only from 1994 through 1997, a period well before the prince’s alleged encounters with Giuffre in 2001.

The court papers said Epstein’s abuse of girls occurred at his Manhattan mansion and other residences in Palm Beach, Fla., Santa Fe, N.M., and London.

Maxwell was described in a lawsuit by another Epstein victim, Sarah Ransome, as the “highest-ranking employee” of Epstein’s alleged sex-trafficking enterprise. She oversaw and trained recruiters, developed recruiting plans and helped conceal the activity from law enforcement, the lawsuit alleged.

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The indictment mirrored many of the claims previously made in civil lawsuits against Maxwell.

It said that as early as 1994, Maxwell would “entice and groom” minor girls by asking them about their lives, their schools and their families.

“Through this process, Maxwell and Epstein enticed victims to engage in sexual activity with Epstein. In some instances, Maxwell was present for and participated in the sexual abuse of minor victims,” the indictment said.

The indictment said Maxwell repeatedly lied when questioned about her conduct.

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At the time the crimes occurred, Maxwell was in an intimate relationship with Epstein and also was paid by him to manage his various properties, according to the indictment, which included a photograph of Epstein with his arm around Maxwell and his head nuzzling hers.

Epstein was initially investigated in Florida and pleaded guilty to state charges in 2008 that allowed him to avoid a lengthy prison sentence. He was freed after a little more than a year in prison.

At the time, a federal prosecutor in Florida signed off on an agreement, initially filed in secret, that barred the federal government from charging “any potential co-conspirators of Epstein.”

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Federal prosecutors in New York have argued that they are not bound by that agreement.

Maxwell’s indictment was celebrated by lawyers for some of Epstein’s accusers. Spencer T. Kuvin, who represents some of the women, said Maxwell would “hopefully be the first of many co-conspirators to face the consequences of these horrific crimes.”


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