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How Ghislaine Maxwell met Jeffrey Epstein

British socialite was sentenced to 20 years behind bars for sex trafficking charges

Graeme Massie
Los Angeles
Thursday 04 January 2024 11:08 GMT
Ghislaine Maxwell pleads not guilty to sex trafficking charges

She spent decades rubbing shoulders with British royals and US presidents.

But British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell is now spending two decades behind bars following her conviction on five federal sex trafficking charges in December 2021.

Maxwell, the daughter of the late media mogul Robert Maxwell, told a 2016 deposition that she met Jeffrey Epstein, then a wealthy financier, in 1991 through a mutual friend.

Ghislaine Maxwell was close friends with the paedophile Jeffrey Epstein (VIA REUTERS)

During the 1990s the couple socialised with Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, as well as Prince Andrew, with Maxwell flying on Epstein’s private jets and staying at his homes, before settling in a $5m New York townhouse. All three men have been named in court documents relating to Epstein, released by a judge in January 2024.

Below we look at the history between Maxwell and Epstein, and how their crimes came to light.

Federal prosecutors alleged that Maxwell first helped Epstein in his sexual exploitation of underage girls in 1994, with Annie Farmer, then 16, alleging she was lured to Epstein’s ranch in New Mexico.

She stated in court papers that Maxwell insisted on giving her a massage before Epstein tried to physically restrain and sexually assault her in a bedroom at the property.

Ms Farmer sued Epstein’s estate and Maxwell, eventually accepting a compensation offer from the Epstein Victims’ Compensation Fund, and dropped her allegations as part of that settlement.

But she has alleged that Maxwell “was a really important part of the grooming process” and that the couple “worked as a team”.

Maxwell began helping Epstein in his sexual exploitation of underage girls in 1994, prosectors said (AFP via Getty Images)

The allegations against Epstein continued to mount and in 2005, a 14-year-old girl contacted police saying that she had been sexually assaulted at his home in Palm Beach, Florida.

Epstein was arrested in 2006 and charged by a grand jury with one count of solicitation of a prostitute and he eventually took a controversial plea deal in state court to prevent federal charges.

After pleading guilty to one count of solicitation of prostitution and one charge of solicitation of a minor, Epstein served 13 months in Palm Beach County Jail.

Maxwell told the 2016 deposition that after Epstein was jailed she continued to occasionally work at his properties and kept her ties with him.

“I’m a very loyal person and Jeffrey was very good to me when my father passed away,” she said in the 2016 deposition.

“I felt that it was a very thoughtful, nice thing for me to do to help in a very limited fashion.”

In 2009, Virginia Giuffre sued Epstein claiming that Maxwell had recruited her when she was a teenager working at Mr Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

She settled her lawsuit with Epstein after claiming that she was made a “sex slave” for years by him and Maxwell.

Prince Andrew with Maxwell and Epstein (rear right, with black/grey stiped tie) and Caroline Stanley (in pink) (Shutterstock)

Her allegations though resurfaced in 2015, when further victims of Epstein filed cases against him, and she claimed that Maxwell had directed her on three occasions to have sex with Prince Andrew.

Although the case was settled in 2017, New York Judge Loretta Preska issued an order to unseal materials connected to the case in December 2023.

The documents, the first tranch of which were made public on 3 January, identify individuals whose names had been previously redacted. Those listed include “alleged victims, people not accused of wrongdoing…and absent third parties.” Being identified through the court documents does not necessarily mean that the individual was involved in or aware of any wrongdoing by Epstein.

Ms Giuffre also went on to sue Prince Andrew for sexual assault and infliction of emotional distress before that case was also settled in 2022. Prince Andrew has adamantly denied the sexual abuse allegations.

In July 2019, Epstein was arrested by law enforcement after arriving in New Jersey on a private jet from France and charged with sex trafficking and sex trafficking conspiracy.

A month later, Epstein was found dead in a Manhattan prison cell while he awaited trial, with a medical examiner ruling the 66-year-old had died by suicide.

Attention then turned to Maxwell, who had a personal fortune of $20m as well as British, French and US passports and who was nowhere to be found.

Almost exactly one year after Epstein’s arrest, the FBI raided a remote estate in New Hampshire, where Ms Maxwell was found living.

Epstein was found dead in 2019, and Maxwell is now in prison (VIA REUTERS)

She had “slithered away to a gorgeous property in New Hampshire, continuing to live a life of privilege while her victims continue to live with the trauma inflicted upon them years ago,” said Bill Sweeney, assistant director of the FBI’s New York Field Office, as he confirmed her arrest.

Prosecutors say that Maxwell refused to answer the door to agents, who were forced to break it down and take her into custody.

On 29 December, following a high-profile trial closely followed by media across the world, a jury found Maxwell guilty on five federal sex trafficking charges.

She was found not guilty of the first charge, enticing a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, but the other counts were as follows:

  • Count 2: Enticing a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts - maximum sentence of five years
  • Count 3: Conspiracy to transport a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity - maximum sentence of five years
  • Count 4: Transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity - maximum sentence of 10 years
  • Count 5: Conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of minors - maximum sentence of five years
  • Count 6: Sex trafficking of minors - maximum sentence of 40 years

Maxwell’s legal team quickly began working on her appeal and launched a separate bid for a retrial after one of the original jurors spoke to the press and revealed he had a personal history of sexual abuse.

The defence said that Juror 50, who spoke publicly under his first names Scotty David, lied about his history in a pre-trial verdict that resulted in an unfair trial but Judge Alison Nathan ultimately rejected their call for a retrial.

Maxwell was finally sentenced to spend 20 years behind bars and fined $750,00 for her crimes on 28 June 2022. Judge Nathan described her offences as “heinous and predatory” as she sentenced Maxwell to a term that exceeded her own maximum sentencing guideline of up to 19 years and eight months.

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