Nearly 11 months after Jeffrey Epstein killed himself in a Manhattan jail cell, his ex-girlfriend and alleged madam, Ghislaine Maxwell, was arrested by the FBI in New Hampshire Thursday.
The charges concern Maxwell “helping Jeffrey Epstein sexually exploit and abuse multiple minor girls from the period of 1994 to 1997,” Audrey Strauss, acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a Thursday press conference. She said some of the girls were as young as 14 years old.
“In some instances, Maxwell participated in the abuse herself,” Strauss said.
According to reports last December, Maxwell was a target of an FBI investigation into “people who facilitated” Epstein’s sex-trafficking ring. The British socialite has been accused in multiple lawsuits of serving as Epstein’s madam and recruiting underage girls who were later sexually abused by the wealthy financier and his friends. Maxwell has long denied any involvement in Epstein’s crimes.
Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who says she was forced to serve as Epstein’s “sex slave,” claims that Maxwell recruited her when she was just 16. They met when Giuffre was working at Donald Trump’s South Florida club, Mar-a-Lago. In an interview last year with Dateline NBC, Giuffre said that Maxwell also trained her to recruit the “youngest-looking” girls she could find for Epstein.
Sarah Ransome, who was 22 when she met Epstein and says he raped her on his private island, told the Times last year that Maxwell “orchestrated the whole thing for Jeffrey.”
The six-count indictment against Maxwell charges here with helping to “groom” Epstein’s victims. “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,” Strauss said. “Maxwell’s presence as an adult woman helped put the victims at ease. As Maxwell and Epstein intended, this grooming process left the minor victims susceptible to sexual abuse.”
Maxwell has remained largely in hiding since Epstein’s arrest on sex-trafficking charges a year ago, though she did resurface to sue Epstein’s estate for legal fees. She was also the subject of a sordid new claim in a recently published book that claimed she and former President Bill Clinton had an affair. Federal authorities said they had been keeping tabs on Maxwell and arrested her after she “slithered away to a gorgeous property in New Hampshire.”