The FBI arrested Jeffrey Epstein’s girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell in New Hampshire yesterday after a federal grand jury charged her with four felony counts of sex trafficking. It is alleged that publishing heiress Maxwell groomed teenage girls to give sexual massages to Epstein.
Maxwell, 58, also was charged with two counts of perjury for lying under oath during several depositions in a civil lawsuit one of the teens filed later. Epstein was indicted last summer on federal sex trafficking charges and died in a Manhattan jail a few weeks later in a suicide.
The US Attorney’s office in New York City stated that Maxwell was one of Epstein’s closest friends and helped him to sexually exploit girls who were sometimes 14 years old.
US Attorney Audrey Strauss added that Maxwell played a key role in assisting Epstein to identify, befriend, and groom teenage girls for abuse. She alleged that Maxwell participated in the sex crimes herself at times.
Maxwell Is ‘One of the Villians of This Investigation’
The chief of the New York FBI office, William Sweeney, ripped Maxwell as one of the villains in the federal investigation. He said she was arrested without fanfare in New Hampshire early in the morning on July 23.
The FBI chief added that the agency has been keeping track of Maxwell’s location as they continued their investigation. More recently, the FBI learned she had moved to an expensive property in New Hampshire while her sex crime victims struggled with the abuse they suffered.
Maxwell was indicted in secret last Monday after federal grand juries in most of the country were suspended because of COVID-19.
Strauss did not state whether the COVID-19 pandemic had affected the federal investigation. But he did say the indictment was only recently voted and filed, and that was when the FBI could move and arrest her.
Maxwell Out of the Public Eye for a Year
Maxwell’s arrest is the biggest development in the Epstein case since he died in August 2019. Maxell tried to stay out of the headlines since her boyfriend died in jail.
She appeared by video in federal court in New Hampshire yesterday for her initial hearing. Attorneys, including a New York prosecutor, joined by video. Members of the press and public listened by telephone.
Maxwell appeared calm during the hearing. She said mostly that she could hear what was going on, had talked to an attorney, and understood her rights.
Maxwell’s defense attorney, Lawrence Vogelman, said she was in jail and was waiving the right to a bail hearing in New Hampshire. But she reserved her right to seek a bail hearing in New York. She did not enter a plea during the hearing.
After the 15-minute hearing, judge Andreas Johnstone ordered the woman to be transferred to New York.
Federal Prosecutors Investigating Anyone Tied To Epstein’s Sex Crimes
From the time prosecutors charged the late Epstein last year with sex trafficking charges, they said they were pursuing anyone who helped him with his sex crimes. Those acts involved the enticement of teenage girls to his expensive homes to give him massages that involved sexual acts.
Maxwell’s federal indictment tracks with the stories of several teens who said the heiress was a key person in recruiting many girls to be sexually abused by Epstein.
The federal indictment reads that Maxwell first tried to befriend some minor victims before they were abused, including asking about their schools, families, and lives. She encouraged the victims to give massages to Epstein, including sex-related acts when the victim would be nude.
The federal charges say the abuse of three minors occurred at Epstein’s houses in Manhattan, Palm Beach, Florida, Santa Fe, New Mexico, at Maxwell’s house in London.
Epstein also received massages on a private island in the US Virgin Islands, which was his official place of residence for the last years of his life.
Federal prosecutors showed photos in the indictment of Epstein’s expensive homes, as well as an image of Maxwell and Epstein hugging.
Sexual Abuse of Minors Occurred in the 1990s
All of the abuse alleged in the federal indictment occurred between 1994 and 1997. Strauss said it is difficult to put together a case that goes back that far, but they did it.
The alleged victims are not named in the federal indictment, but prosecutors took part in the sexual abuse of at least two of them. She allegedly engaged in sexual activity with the late Epstein during the massages. Maxwell also allegedly massaged one of the girls while she had no top on.
The indictment also includes two felony charges related to statements she made in 2016 in a lawsuit filed against her by a woman who alleged she gave sexual massages as a minor after she was recruited in Florida.
Prosecutors allege that Maxwell lied during depositions when she denied knowledge of Epstein seeking sexual massages from minors. She also said she did not know he had many sex toys in his home.
Strauss told reporters that Maxwell lied because the truth is nearly unspeakable.
Maxwell faces up to 35 years in federal prison on the federal charges, but defendants often get shorter sentences under federal sentencing guidelines.
- Jeffrey Epstein Associate Ghislaine Maxwell Arrested. Accessed at https://www.politico.com/news/2020/07/02/ghislaine-maxwell-arrested-jeffrey-epstein-348053
- Judge Rules to Unseal Documents in 2015 Case Against Ghislaine Maxwell. Accessed at https://www.cnn.com/2020/07/23/us/ghislaine-maxwell-jeffrey-epstein/index.html