FBI charges Epstein’s former girlfriend
London – British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, an ex-girlfriend of convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein, has been charged in the United States after being arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI).
She is accused of assisting Epstein’s abuse of minors by helping to recruit and groom victims known to be underage.
After being arrested in New Hampshire, she was brought to court and remanded in custody, for transfer to New York.
Maxwell has previously denied any involvement in or knowledge of Epstein’s alleged sexual misconduct.
Epstein died in prison on August 10 as he awaited, without the chance of bail, his trial on sex trafficking charges.
He was arrested last year in New York following allegations that he was running a network of underage girls – some as young as 14 – for sex. His death was determined to be suicide.
Prosecutors allege that between 1994 and 1997, Maxwell helped Epstein groom girls as young as 14.
The charges say she would build a rapport with them – including by taking them shopping or to the movies – and would later coax them into giving Epstein massages during which they were sexually abused.
“Maxwell played a critical role in helping Epstein to identify, befriend and groom minor victims for abuse,” said Audrey Strauss, acting US attorney for the southern district of New York.
What is the detail of the charges?
Four of the six charges relate to the years 1994 to 1997 when Maxwell was, according to the indictment, among Epstein’s closest associates and also in an “intimate relationship” with him. The other two charges are allegations of perjury in 2016.
Specifically, she is charged with:
Conspiracy to entice minors to travel to engage in illegal sex acts
Enticing a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts
Conspiracy to transport minors with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity
Transporting a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity
She is accused of grooming multiple minor girls to engage in sex acts with Epstein. She allegedly attempted to befriend them by asking about their lives and families and then she and Epstein built the friendships by taking minor victims to the cinema or shopping.
Having built a rapport, 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,” acting US attorney Audrey Strauss 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 April 22 and July 22, 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 Strauss. (BBC)