NEWS
02/07/2020 14:42 BST | Updated 02/07/2020 18:48 BST

Jeffrey Epstein's Ex-Girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell Arrested On Suspicion Of Grooming Children

Among the accusations is a claim the British socialite helped groom one of the disgraced financier's victims in London in the mid-1990s.

Ghislaine Maxwell, the British socialite and close friend of Jeffrey Epstein, has been arrested in relation to the late financier’s sex crimes.

Maxwell, the socialite and daughter of the late media mogul Robert Maxwell, was arrested by the FBI in Bradford, New Hampshire, on Thursday morning and is expected to appear in federal court later in the day, an FBI spokesperson told HuffPost.

Prosecutors say she conspired to entice children to travel to engage in illegal sex acts with Epstein in as early as 1994, according to an indictment filed in New York and obtained by HuffPost.

The indictment states victims were “groomed and/or abused at multiple locations”, including Maxwell’s home in London as well as Epstein’s properties across the US. 

Patrick McMullan via Getty Images
Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell in 2005.

“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,” a copy of the indictment reads.

In some cases, prosecutors say Maxwell would befriend the victims by taking them to the movies or to go shopping. She would attempt to normalise sexual abuse around them and pay for their travel or other opportunities which would make the victims “feel indebted”.

Maxwell faces six counts in all, including conspiracy, enticement and transportation of a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, and two counts of perjury over testimony she gave before the Southern District of New York in 2016 about her role and knowledge of the sexual abuse.

The indictment refers to one of the victims being “groomed and befriended” by Maxwell in London between 1994 and 1995, including “during a period of time in which Maxwell knew that [the victim] was under the age of 18″.

It states she “encouraged” the victim to “massage Epstein [...] knowing that Epstein would engage in sex acts [...] during those massages”. It adds Maxwell “was aware that Epstein engaged in sexual activity with the [victim] on multiple occasions, including when the [victim] was under the age of 18”. 

Handout via Getty Images
Jeffrey Epstein poses for a sex offender mugshot after being charged with procuring a minor for prostitution in 2013 in Florida.

Maxwell has previously denied allegations of having a role in Epstein’s crimes, including allegations that she helped recruit young girls and women for him. She has not faced charges. 

Epstein, who was convicted in 2008 on an underage prostitution charge, has been accused by dozens of women of sexual abuse — some when they were as young as 14. He killed himself in August while awaiting trial on charges of sex trafficking in New York.

One of Epstein’s alleged victims, Virginia Giuffre, has claimed that Maxwell arranged for her to have sex with the Duke of York at the socialite’s London townhouse in the late 1990s.

Giuffre has claimed she was trafficked by Epstein and alleges the duke had sex with her on three separate occasions, including when she was 17, still a minor under US law. Andrew categorically denies he had any form of sexual contact or relationship with Giuffre.

At a press conference on Thursday, Audrey Strauss, acting US attorney for the Southern District of New York, said: “We would welcome Prince Andrew coming in to talk with us. Our doors remain open.”

Giuffre has accused Maxwell of having trafficked her to places around the world with Epstein, starting when she was a young teen, where she would be sexually abused.

“Their whole entire lives revolved around sex,” Giuffre said of Epstein and Maxwell in a defamation suit released to the public last August.

One of Epstein’s alleged victims, Jennifer Araoz, filed a lawsuit against Epstein’s estate shortly after his death that implicated Maxwell in his crimes. Araoz said though she personally did not have contact with Maxwell, Maxwell was among those in his inner circle who was “maintaining and concealing the sex trafficking ring that Mr Epstein was involved in,” her attorney has said.