The 58-year-old British socialite has all but removed herself from the public eye – although she was seen at a burger bar in LA, California, in August – after the paedophile financier died of a reported suicide while awaiting trial on new sex-trafficking charges.
Epstein’s accusers have pointed at Ms Maxwell as having coordinated their encounters with the billionaire, alleging she hired underage women to perform massages on him that would then turn sexual. Some have also accused Ms Maxwell of participating in that sexual abuse.
The FBI is looking into potential leads from a hotline for Epstein’s accusers created after his arrest in July and its investigation remains in its early stages, according to Reuters, which cited multiple anonymous law enforcement sources.
Federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York have also continued with a criminal investigation despite Epstein’s controversial death in a New York City jail cell. A source familiar with the probe previously told The Independent that prosecutors were looking at names mentioned in the accusations against Epstein, which would include Ms Maxwell.
Virginia Roberts Giuffre, one of the accusers who has said she was groomed by Ms Maxwell from the age of 15 and forced to have sex with Epstein and his associates, including Prince Andrew, sued the British socialite in 2016 for defamation. The lawsuit came after Ms Maxwell described the claims as “obvious lies” and was later settled for an undisclosed sum.
Ms Maxwell has denied all accusations of wrongdoing. Buckingham Palace also denied Prince Andrew “had any form of sexual contact or relationship” with Ms Giuffre in a statement earlier this year.
The prince himself denied having any recollection of ever meeting Ms Giuffre, despite a photo showing the pair together from when the accuser was a young girl. Ms Maxwell appears in that photo off to the side, as the prince holds Ms Giuffre by her waist.
Prince Andrew also sent Ms Maxwell a 2015 email that was buried in legal documents and uncovered earlier this year, in which the duke said: “Let me know when we can talk. Got some specific questions to ask you about Virginia Roberts.”
Jennifer Araoz, another one of Epstein’s accusers, filed a lawsuit against Ms Maxwell and three additional unnamed female staff members to the billionaire earlier this year, telling reporters in a phone call at the time: “Today is my first step towards reclaiming my power.”
“Jeffrey Epstein and his network of enablers stole from me,” she added. “They robbed me of my youth, my identity, my innocence, my self-worth. For too long, they escaped accountability. I am here today because I intend to change that.”
Epstein pleaded guilty in 2008 to soliciting a prostitute and procuring an underage girl for prostitution. Ms Maxwell was educated at Oxford University, invited to glitzy parties attended by the rich and famous and spearheaded a charity group dedicated to preserving the oceans.
She met Epstein in the early 1990s and has been said to have become his closest confidante, arranging his travel and scheduling his appointments.
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