Epstein pal arrested, accused of luring girls for sex abuse

Epstein pal arrested, accused of luring girls for sex abuse

Ghislaine Maxwell was in an intimate relationship with Epstein for years

British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell was arrested Thursday on charges she helped lure at least three girls — one as young as 14 — to be sexually abused by the late financier Jeffrey Epstein, who was accused of victimizing dozens of girls and women over many years.

According to the indictment, Maxwell, who lived for years with Epstein and was his frequent companion on trips around the world, facilitated his crimes and on some occasions joined him in sexually abusing the girls.

Epstein, 66, killed himself in a federal detention centre in New York last summer while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.

Maxwell has, for years, been accused by many women of acting as a madam for Epstein, helping him scout young girls for abuse, then hiring them to give him massages, during which the girls were pressured into sex acts. In one lawsuit, a woman alleged Maxwell was the “highest-ranking employee” of Epstein’s alleged sex trafficking enterprise. Those accusations, until now, never resulted in criminal charges.

The 58-year-old was arrested in Bradford, New Hampshire, where she was living on a wooded estate she purchased for $1 million last December. The FBI had been keeping tabs on her after she disappeared from public view following Epstein’s arrest a year ago.

“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,” William Sweeney, head of the FBI’s New York office, told a news conference Thursday.

Jennifer Araoz, who says Epstein raped her when she was 15, said she feared the financier’s ring of conspirators for years.

“Now that the ring has been taken down, I know that I can’t be hurt anymore,” Araoz, now 33, said in a statement. “Day after day, I have waited for the news that Maxwell would be arrested and held accountable for her actions. Her arrest is a step in that direction, and it truly means that the justice system didn’t forget about us.”

READ MORE: Jeffrey Epstein found injured in NYC jail cell

The indictment, which was unsealed Thursday, included counts of conspiracy to entice minors to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, enticement of a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, conspiracy to transport minors with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity.

She was also accused of perjuring herself during a deposition in a civil lawsuit over alleged abuse.

“Maxwell lied because the truth, as alleged, was almost unspeakable,” Audrey Strauss, the acting U.S. attorney in Manhattan, said.

Messages were sent Thursday to several of Maxwell’s attorneys seeking comment. She has previously repeatedly denied wrongdoing and called some claims against her “absolute rubbish.”

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

Among the most sensational accusations was a claim by Virginia Roberts Giuffre that Maxwell arranged for her to have sex with Britain’s Prince Andrew at her London townhouse. Giuffre bolstered her allegations with a picture of her, Andrew and Maxwell that she said was taken at the time.

Andrew denied her story and Maxwell said in a deposition that Giuffre was “totally lying.”

The prince was not mentioned in the indictment, and the charges covered Maxwell’s dealings with Epstein only from 1994 through 1997, a period well before his alleged encounters with Giuffre in 2001.

Strauss said she would “welcome Prince Andrew coming in to talk with us,” but did not answer further questions pertaining to these charges and Andrew.

The indictment focused on Epstein’s alleged abuse of three specific girls at his Manhattan mansion and other residences in Palm Beach, Florida; Santa Fe, New Mexico, and London. Their names were not revealed in court filings.

Prosecutors’ allegations mirrored many claims from civil lawsuits against Maxwell, saying she would “entice and groom” minor girls by asking them about their lives, their schools and their families.

“Through this process, Maxwell and Epstein enticed victims to engage in sexual activity with Epstein. In some instances, Maxwell was present for and participated in the sexual abuse of minor victims,” according to the indictment.

Maxwell is the daughter of a British publishing magnate Robert Maxwell, who died in 1991 after falling off his yacht near the Canary Islands. At the time, he was facing allegations that he had illegally looted pension funds from his businesses.

Maxwell was in an intimate relationship with Epstein for years and also was paid by him to manage his various properties, according to the indictment, which included a photograph of Epstein with his arm around Maxwell and his head nuzzling hers. Strauss, at the news conference, stood silent, pointing at the picture as news crews captured the moment.

Strauss promised the investigation was continuing and urged other victims to come forward.

In a memo seeking Maxwell’s detention, prosecutors wrote that she “poses an extreme risk of flight.” Maxwell has three passports, is wealthy with lots of international connections, and has “absolutely no reason to stay in the United States and face the possibility of a lengthy prison sentence,” they wrote.

Epstein was initially investigated in Florida and pleaded guilty to state charges in 2008 that allowed him to avoid a lengthy prison sentence. He was free a little after a year in prison.

At the time, a federal prosecutor in Florida signed off on an agreement, initially filed in secret, that barred the federal government from charging “any potential co-conspirators of Epstein.”

But Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. attorney in Manhattan until he was fired last month, argued that federal prosecutors in New York were not bound by that agreement and brought a sweeping indictment against Epstein.

Maxwell’s indictment was celebrated by lawyers for some Epstein accusers.

“Today is a very good day,” said Brad Edwards, an attorney representing Giuffre and several other accusers.

Spencer T. Kuvin, who represents some of the women, said Maxwell was “hopefully … the first of many co-conspirators to face the consequences of this horrific crimes.”

READ MORE: Queen agrees to let Harry, Meghan move part-time to Canada

___

Associated Press writer Curt Anderson contributed to this report from Miami and Danica Kirka contributed from London.

Jim Mustian And Larry Neumeister, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

sexual abuse

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Residents of the Cowichan Valley decorated more than 55 vehicles with anti-racist slogans for a car rally in support of Cowichan Tribes on Saturday, January 24. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Dozens join anti-racism car rally and virtual panel in Cowichan Valley

Provincial ministry and BC Green caucus issue joint statement detailing concerns

Island Health is expected to begin public consultations soon on its controversial plans to open a new wellness and recovery centre at 5878 York Road. (File photo)
Public consultations on Duncan wellness and recovery centre coming in February

Controversial facility on York Road scheduled to open in June

Jerry Dyck plans to purchase a new RV to drive across Canada in, once it’s safe to travel again. (Courtesy BCLC)
Victoria man plans post-pandemic cross-Canada RV trip after $2M lottery win

Retired electrician bought the winning ticket in Duncan

Providence Health Care has teamed up with partners, including Island Health, to launch the first remote cochlear implant (CI) mapping program for adults in British Columbia. Duncan’s Alan Holt was one of the first to test it out. (Submitted)
Remote cochlear clinic offers shorter commute for patients like Duncan’s Alan Holt

Duncan man one of the first to test virtual mapping program

Larry Fiege, right, from Fiege’s Farm shows a rapt audience the old-fashioned way to tap a Bigleaf Maple during the Maple Syrup Festival at the BC Forest Discovery Centre Feb. 1 and 2, 2020. (Andrea Rondeau/Citizen)
Maple Syrup Festival in Duncan cancelled

The annual syrup festival is a popular event at the BC Forest Discovery Centre

Crews with Discovery Channel film as an Aggressive Towing driver moves a Grumman S2F Tracker aircraft around a 90-degree turn from its compound and onto the road on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. It was the “most difficult” part of the move for the airplane, one organizer said. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Vintage military plane gets towed from Chilliwack to Greater Victoria

Grumman CP-121 Tracker’s eventual home the British Columbia Aviation Museum on Vancouver Island

Jesse Savidant, 31, is wanted by the RCMP after failing to appear in provincial court in Nanaimo in December. Police warn Savidant should be considered violent. (Photo Submitted)
Warrant out for man accused of stolen property offences across Vancouver Island

Jesse Savidant did not appear for court date in Nanaimo last month, say RCMP

Rolling seven-day average of cases by B.C. health authority to Jan. 21. Fraser Health in purple, Vancouver Coastal red, Interior Health orange, Northern Health green and Vancouver Island blue. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
2nd COVID vaccine doses on hold as B.C. delivery delayed again

New COVID-19 cases slowing in Fraser Health region

The Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is urging visitors to stay on designated trails after a hiker became injured in an unsanctioned area last week. (Westerly file photo)
Injured hiker rescued in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

“Safety is everyone’s responsibility.”

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. Two more cases of the COVID-19 strain first identified in South Africa have been diagnosed in British Columbia, bringing the total to three as of Jan. 16.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. now has three cases of South African COVID-19 variant, six of U.K. strain

Both variants are thought to spread faster than earlier strains

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Great Canadian Gaming CEO resigns after being accused of sneaking into Yukon for vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

Police discovered a makeshift nightclub in a Vancouver apartment on Jan. 23, 2021, and say it wasn’t the first time this month officers have been called to the unit over social gathering concerns. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Doorman of makeshift ‘booze-can’ in Vancouver apartment fined; police look to court order

This marks the fourth complaint about social gatherings inside the apartment in January

Local musician and artist Daisy Melville created a watercolour portrait of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders from the recent American inauguration, and with help from her mom, is now selling t-shirts and more with funds going to the Comox Valley Food Bank. Image submitted
Island artist turns Sanders inauguration meme into art for good

All proceeds from the sale of shirts, sweaters and more will go to the Comox Valley Food Bank

A Kelowna couple welcomed their Nooner baby in December. (Flytographer)
Kelowna couple welcomes baby girl from Hotel Zed Nooner campaign

Nicole and Alex will now have 18 years of free stays at the hotel

Most Read