Ghislaine Maxwell, Jeffrey Epstein’s longtime associate, has been charged with enticement of minors
Kara Scannell and Erica Orden, CNN
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(CNN) — Ghislaine Maxwell, the onetime girlfriend and alleged accomplice of accused sex-trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, was arrested Thursday morning and charged by New York federal prosecutors with six counts in connection with an ongoing federal investigation into Epstein’s accomplices, according to court documents and a person familiar with the matter.
Maxwell is charged with enticement and conspiracy to entice minors to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, transportation and conspiracy to transport minors with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, and two counts of perjury, according to a federal indictment unsealed Thursday.
“In particular, from at least in or about 1994, up to an including at least in or about 1997, 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 victims known to Maxwell and Epstein to be under the age of 18,” the indictment says.
Those victims, according to the indictment, included girls as young as 14 years old. Maxwell and multimillionaire Epstein are accused of luring them to an array of residences, including his Upper East Side mansion, his Palm Beach estate, and his sprawling Santa Fe ranch, along with her residence in London.
Maxwell was arrested without incident in New Hampshire and will make her initial appearance in court in New Hampshire, authorities said. An attorney for Maxwell, Jeffrey S. Pagliuca, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.
Maxwell, whose whereabouts have been unclear since Epstein’s arrest last summer, has been under investigation by the Manhattan US Attorney’s office for facilitating Epstein’s recruitment of young girls and women. She has been named in multiple lawsuits by women who said they have been abused by Epstein.
Prior to his jailhouse death by suicide while awaiting trial in August 2019, Epstein faced charges of having run a trafficking enterprise in which he paid hundreds of dollars in cash to girls as young as 14 to have sex with him at his Upper East Side home and his estate in Palm Beach, worked with employees and associates to lure the girls to his residences and paid some of his victims to recruit other girls for him to abuse.
In the wake of Epstein’s death, public pressure has mounted to hold those who assisted him — perhaps including Maxwell and a coterie of young women who allegedly worked under her — accountable not only for his actions, but also for their own roles.
In that investigation, Maxwell has remained a significant target. She has previously denied wrongdoing, and in a deposition has called at least one of her accusers “a liar.”
According to Thursday’s indictment, however, Maxwell was the principal recruiter for victims of Epstein’s sex trafficking ring.
The indictment describes Maxwell’s relationship with three victims, identified only as Minor Victim-1, Minor Victim-2 and Minor Victim-3.
Maxwell, along with Epstein, is accused by prosecutors of luring the young girls into their circle, inquiring about their schools and families, taking them to the movies or shopping. After developing a rapport with them, she would allegedly steer the relationship into sexual territory, talking to them about sexual topics or undressing in front of them, followed by encouraging them to give Epstein’s massages, during which the girls were fully or partially nude, the indictment says.
Those massages, some of which Maxwell participated in, according to the indictment, sometimes developed into sexual encounters. In both the indictment of Maxwell and that of Epstein, federal prosecutors described the Epstein’s resulting abuse from these encounters, which allegedly included touching a girl’s genitals, using a sex toy on them or directing a girl to touch him while he masturbated.
The indictment alleges that Maxwell participated in “multiple group sexual encounters” with Minor Victim-1 in New York and Florida between 1994 and 1997, gave Minor Victim-2 an unsolicited massage in New Mexico in 1996 while the girl was topless and encouraged Minor Victim-3 to give massages to Epstein in London between 1994 and 1995, “knowing that Epstein intended to sexually abuse [her] during those massages.”
In charging Maxwell, however, federal prosecutors in New York may face a legal hurdle. In 2007, Epstein signed a non-prosecution agreement with federal prosecutors in Florida that appeared to immunize his accomplices. The document says that “the United States also agrees that it will not institute any criminal charges against any potential co-conspirators of Epstein, including but not limited to” four alleged accomplices. Maxwell isn’t listed among them, but her lawyers may argue that she is covered by the phrase “but not limited to.”
When Epstein himself was indicted, New York federal prosecutors said they believed the Florida agreement didn’t restrict their office from prosecuting him, but his lawyers argued otherwise.
The perjury charges in the indictment stem from a 2016 deposition of Maxwell conducted as part of civil litigation. During that testimony, she denied having given anyone a massage, specifically denied having given Minor Victim-2 a massage and said, “I wasn’t aware that [Epstein] was having sexual activities with anyone when I was with him other than myself.
Asked whether Epstein had a “scheme to recruit underage girls for sexual massages,” she replied: “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
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