Jeffrey Epstein friend Ghislaine Maxwell charged in US with child sex trafficking

2 July 2020, 14:23 | Updated: 3 July 2020, 00:48

Ghislaine Maxwell has reportedly been arrested
Ghislaine Maxwell has been arrested by the FBI. Picture: Getty

By Kate Buck

Ghislaine Maxwell, a long-time friend and confidante of Jeffrey Epstein, has been charged in the US with child sex trafficking offences.

The FBI confirmed the 58-year-old was arrested at 8.30am local time on Thursday in Bradford, New Hampshire.

Maxwell appeared in court on the same day accused of facilitating long-time associate Epstein's sexual exploitation of underage girls.

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

She has been charged with; conspiracy to entice minors to engage in illegal sex acts, conspiracy to transport minors to engage in illegal sex acts, transportation of a minor to engage in illegal sex acts and perjury.

The youngest alleged victim was just 14 at the time of the claims.

There are three victims named in the indictment, who were allegedly abused by Epstein and Maxwell in a number of his homes in New York and New Mexico.

The indictment has also alleged that some of the abuse took place in Maxwell's personal residence in London.

Read more: Prince Andrew 'bewildered' by claims he hasn't offered to cooperate in Epstein case

Epstein and Maxwell were friends with some of the most powerful people in the Western world
Epstein and Maxwell were friends with some of the most powerful people in the Western world. Picture: Getty

Maxwell is accused of giving an "unsolicited massage" to one of the victims, and of encouraging her to massage Epstein.

Announcing charges against Ghislaine Maxwell, acting US Attorney for the Southern District of New York Audrey Strauss said the case against the socialite was the "prequel" to an earlier case brought against Jeffrey Epstein.

FBI New York assistant director William Sweeney told the press conference: "Today we announce the arrest of one of the villains in this investigation.

"Earlier this morning Ghislaine Maxwell was arrested in Bradford, New Hampshire ... We have been discreetly keeping tabs on Maxwell's whereabouts as we work this investigation.

"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.

"We alleged that from at least 1994 through at least 1997 Ms Maxwell assisted Jeffrey Epstein's abuse of minor girls by helping to recruit, entice, groom and abuse children under 18.

Prince Andrew pictured with Maxwell in 2000
Prince Andrew pictured with Maxwell in 2000. Picture: Getty

"She befriended the innocent, attempted to normalise sexual abuse, and worked to put victims at ease, aware the entire time of the abuse that would follow."

The accusations against Maxwell and Epstein reached the upper echelons of British society, with one of Epstein's alleged victims Virginia Guiffre claiming Prince Andrew had sexual intercourse with her after she was trafficked to the UK aged just 17.

Ms Strauss also said authorities would "welcome" a statement from the Duke of York in relation to the investigation.

Ms Giuffre, claims that Maxwell arranged for her to have sex with Andrew at the socialite's London townhouse.

Andrew categorically denies he had any form of sexual contact or relationship with Ms Giuffre, while his lawyers claim the duke has made three offers to give a witness statement to investigators.

The British heiress, whose father was newspaper tycoon Robert Maxwell, was a former girlfriend of Epstein, who killed himself in prison August 2019 while awaiting a trial for sex trafficking.

She has been accused of grooming teenage girls and procuring them to give Epstein massages, during which he would sexually abuse them.

Virginia Guiffre claiming Prince Andrew had sexual intercourse with her after she was trafficked to the UK aged just 17.
Virginia Guiffre claiming Prince Andrew had sexual intercourse with her after she was trafficked to the UK aged just 17. Picture: PA

Maxwell was described in a lawsuit by 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.

Maxwell has repeatedly denied wrongdoing and called some of the claims against her “absolute rubbish.”

Epstein was arrested in June of last year, and Maxwell has kept a low profile since. Until this morning it was not publicly known she was in the United States.

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