Ghislaine Maxwell, the British socialite accused of recruiting underage girls for disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein to sexually abuse has been arrested by the FBI after nearly a year of being in hiding.
Maxwell, 58, was arrested Thursday morning in Bradford, New Hampshire, FBI spokesperson Tina Jagerson confirmed to Oxygen.com.
Audrey Strauss, acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York called her arrest “the prequel to the earlier case we brought against Jeffrey Epstein” during a Thursday press conference.
Maxwell is being 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, as well as perjury, according to a federal indictment unsealed and obtained by Oxygen.com.
“In particular, from at least in or about 1994, up to and 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 alleges. It also states that 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."
Strauss explained at the news conference that Maxwell and Epstein would allegedly “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 and treat them to shopping trips.”
She claimed that Maxwell would groom the potential victims by developing a relationship with them and that she’d normalize sexual abuse by discussing sexual topics with them and undressing in front of them.
“Maxwell’s presence as an adult woman helped put the victims at ease,” Strauss said.
Epstein, who was found dead in his federal prison cell last August at age 66, just one month after he was arrested on sex trafficking charges, referred to Maxwell as his "best friend" in a 2003 Vanity Fair profile on him. However, their relationship was allegedly much more sinister than mere friendship. As the indictment states, Maxwell has been accused of picking out teen girls, along with other alleged recruiters in Epstein's pyramid of sexual abuse, whom she'd lure to Epstein's mansion for him. Epstein would allegedly pay the girls to massage him, which would escalate to sexual abuse.
Maxwell who moved to the United States in 1991 after the death of her father Robert Maxwell, himself a disgraced publishing tycoon. She and Epstein dated before their relationship morphed into a different dynamic, with her playing role of friend and confidante.
Since Epstein’s 2019 arrest, she has reportedly been in hiding. She’d been rumored to be everywhere from Israel to France, ABC News reported in January. There were additional rumors that she was spotted taking a pilates class in California and that she was hunkering down in a small New Jersey home, Vanity Fair reported in November.
Bill Sweeney, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s New York field office, said at Thursday’s news conference that investigators had been quietly keeping tabs on Maxwell.”
“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,” he said.
At least five women have named Maxwell as a co-defendant in lawsuits against Epstein's estate. All three have been trying to track her down, ABC News reported in January.
Strauss also mentioned at Thursday’s news conference that investigators would “welcome” a statement from Prince Andrew. Maxwell is accused of sex-trafficking a 17-year-old girl to him in 2001.
“I’m not going to comment on anyone’s status in this investigation but I will say that we would welcome Prince Andrew coming in to talk with us, we would like to have the benefit of his statement,” she said.
Maxwell is expected to appear in a federal court later today, Strauss said.
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