Ghislaine Maxwell, the former girlfriend and longtime associate of the late disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein, was arrested on Thursday on charges of luring underage girls so that Epstein could sexually abuse them.
“Today we announce charges against Ghislaine Maxwell for helping Jeffrey Epstein sexually exploit and abuse multiple minor girls from the period of 1994 through 1997.”
Acting U.S. Attorney for New York’s Southern District, Audrey Strauss, said Maxwell was taken into custody Thursday morning in New Hampshire, where the British-born socialite had been living, and was scheduled to appear before a New Hampshire judge later in the day.
She is charged with four counts related to procuring and transporting minors as young as 14 years-old for illegal sex acts and two counts of perjury.
“As alleged, Maxwell and Epstein had a method. Typically, they would befriend these young girls by asking them questions about their lives, pretending to be taking an interest in them. They would take them to the movies, treat them to shopping trips. Maxwell would encourage these young girls to accept offers from Epstein to pay for their travel and their education, making these young victims feel indebted to Jeffrey Epstein.”
In some cases, Maxwell allegedly participated in the abuse herself.
“Maxwell then tried to normalize sexual abuse with a minor victim by through a process known as ‘grooming.’ For example, Maxwell would discuss sexual topics with the victim and undress in front of the victim. Or be present for sex acts involving the minor victims and Epstein. That abuse included sexualized massages, during which the minor victim was fully or partially nude. These sexualized massages developed into sexual encounters, which Maxwell in some instances was present and participated.”
Maxwell, the daughter of late British media magnate Robert Maxwell, has kept a low profile since the death of Epstein, who was awaiting trial on federal charges of trafficking minors when he was found hanged in an apparent suicide in a New York City jail last August.
Epstein has been linked socially to numerous powerful figures, from President Donald Trump to former President Bill Clinton and Britain’s Prince Andrew – who has had to step down from public life after being accused of having sex with a young woman procured by Epstein, claims he has strongly denied.
While no charges have been filed against Andrew, he has said he would cooperate with the investigation into Epstein – but U.S. federal attorneys say requests to interview him have been denied. U.S. Attorney Strauss reiterated Thursday that she would “welcome the opportunity" to talk to him.
Maxwell faces up to 35 years in prison if convicted.