On Thursday morning, the FBI arrested Ghislaine Maxwell in Bradford, NH.
Maxwell was a long-time girlfriend and confidante of Jeffrey Epstein who sat atop the pyramid scheme that he allegedly ran to recruit, groom, and abuse dozens of young women. Ghislaine, the daughter of media mogul Robert Maxwell, has been keeping a low profile for the past two years as authorities closed in on her and Epstein for sex trafficking charges. Her whereabouts were unknown for more than a year prior to Epstein's arrest. Maxwell and Epstein were known to keep the same social circles as the rich and famous, surrounding themselves with high-profile figures including Presidents Bill Clinton and Donald Trump and Prince Andrew.
Maxwell has been a key person of interest in the Epstein investigation for over a decade.
Federal prosecutors from the Southern District of New York charged Jeffrey Epstein with sex trafficking and sex trafficking conspiracy in 2019, charges that carried a maximum sentence of 45 years. His arrest was deemed long overdue as authorities in Florida first learned of the allegations in a 2006 investigation of sex crimes at his Palm Beach estate. Epstein reached a plea deal with Alexander Acosta, who then served as the U.S. Attorney for the District of Miami and went on to serve as the U.S. Secretary of Labor under Donald Trump, which led to him being charged with two counts of solicitation of a minor for prostitution (a state crime, not federal). Prior to the deal, prosecutors had prepared a 53-page indictment that implicated him in a complex sex crime scheme.
The plea deal granted Epstein immunity from federal prosecution and the indictment was tossed out. He only served 13 months in jail, where he was housed in a private wing and allowed to leave for hours at a time on work release.
The rebuke of Epstein's prior plea deal and his subsequent 2019 arrest were seen as a victory for his victims who had been campaigning for his arrest for over a decade. The same victims also demanded the arrest of Ghislaine Maxwell, who they asserted was not just a bystander in Epstein's sex abuse scheme, but a willing participant. She is alleged to have worked with Epstein to run what was essentially a sex trafficking ring at his Palm Beach, New Mexico, New York, and U.S. Virgin Islands estates.
After Epstein's death in a Manhattan jail in August of 2019, public pressure mounted on prosecutors to investigate and arrest Epstein's co-conspirators.
With the spotlight off of Epstein, Maxwell became the target of investigations by the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York's office. The grand jury indictment unsealed on Thursday charges Maxwell with conspiracy to entice minors to travel to engage in sex acts and perjury. The indictment reads in part, "Having developed a rapport with a victim, Maxwell would try to normalize sexual abuse for a minor victim by, among other things, discussing sexual topics, undressing in front of the victim, being present when a minor victim was undressed, and/or being present for sex acts involving the minor victim and Epstein."
The perjury charge stems from Maxwell's 2016 deposition in the Epstein case in which she denied having knowledge of Epstein's plan to recruit minors for sexual massages or his engagement in sex acts with minors. Maxwell was the subject of a now-settled defamation case brought by Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who claims she was sex trafficked by Epstein and Maxwell, including being paid for sexual encounters with Prince Andrew when she was a minor. Authorities have publicly lambasted Prince Andrew for his unwillingness to cooperate with investigations. Other victims of Epstein and Maxwell have been unsuccessfully attempting to track down Ghislaine for years to serve her with lawsuits. Maxwell's arrest could open the floodgates to a barrage of litigation against Epstein's estate.
If Maxwell is sentenced, it will be a victory for the dozens of women whose desperate cries for justice were silenced for so many years.