Ghislaine Maxwell ‘enticed and groomed’ minors for Jeffrey Epstein to abuse, indictment says

Maxwell was arrested in New Hampshire on Thursday on charges relating to the investigation into Jeffrey Epstein 

Richard Hall
New York
,Louise Boyle
Thursday 02 July 2020 19:57 BST
Jeffrey Epstein associate Ghislaine Maxwell arrested

Ghislaine Maxwell helped billionaire Jeffrey Epstein to “recruit, groom and ultimately abuse” victims that both knew to be under the age of 18, according to charges filed in a federal court in Manhattan.

Ms Maxwell, the former girlfriend of the late accused sex offender, was arrested on Thursday on a charge of conspiracy to entice minors to travel to engage in illegal sex acts. She was due to make a virtual court appearance later today.

The indictment accuses the British socialite of being a knowing and willing facilitator of Epstein’s abuse over a number of years, and of lying to about her actions under oath.

“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 reads.

It says that in an effort to conceal her crimes, Ms Maxwell "repeatedly lied when questioned about her conduct, including in relation to some of the minor victims described herein, when providing testimony under oath in 2016”.

It further adds that she "enticed and groomed multiple minor girls to engage in sex acts with Jeffrey Epstein”.

According to the indictment, which focuses on the years between 1994 and 1997, Maxwell “facilitated” Epstein’s access to underage girls by “inducing and enticing” them for grooming and abuse at multiple lavish properties owned by Epstein.

These included his Upper East Side townhouse on East 66th Street, where he was known to throw lavish parties; his Palm Beach estate in Florida and his “Zorro” ranch in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Victims were also groomed and abused at Ms Maxwell’s personal residence in London, according to the indictment.

Three minors, unnamed in the indictment, were allegedly induced and enticed by Ms Maxwell.

The court papers state that she met “Minor Victim-1” when she was 14 and interacted with her at Epstein’s residences in the knowledge that she was a minor.

Over the three years, “Maxwell groomed Minor Victim-1 to engage in sexual acts with Epstein through multiple means”.

Along with Epstein, she befriended the victim, taking her to movies and on shopping trips. Ms Maxwell also allegedly asked the girl about her life - school, classes and her family.

Ms Maxwell sought to “normalize inappropriate and abusive” conduct to the victim, the indictment reads, undressing in front of her and being present when the victim undressed for Epstein. Within a year of meeting, Epstein was abusing the victim.

“Maxwell was present for and involved in some of this abuse,” according to the court papers, in particular, “in group sexualized massages of Epstein” where the victim would engage in sex acts with Epstein.

Ms Maxwell, along with Epstein, encouraged the victim to travel to his homes in New York and Florida.

“Minor Victim-1 was enticed to travel across state lines for the purpose of sexual encounters with Epstein,” and Ms Maxwell was aware of the activity, prosecutors state.

In 1996, she had at least one interaction with “Minor Victim-2” at the Zorro ranch.

The victim “had flown into New Mexico from out of state at Epstein’s invitation for the purpose of being groomed for and/or subjected to acts of sexual abuse”, the indictment states.

While in New Mexico, Ms Maxwell and Esptein took the victim to a movie, while she took the girl shopping.

In New Mexico, “Maxwell began her efforts to groom Minor Victim-2 for abuse by Epstein by, among other things, providing an unsolicited massage to [the victim] “during which Minor Victim-2 was topless” and encouraged her to massage Epstein.

The third victim was groomed and befriended in London between 1994 and 1995, according to the indictment, with Ms Maxwell again aware that the girl was under 18, chatting with her about her life and family.

She introduced the third victim to Epstein “and arranged for multiple interactions”.

“Maxwell encouraged Minor Victim-3 to massage Epstein, knowing that Epstein would engage in sex acts with [the victim] during those massages”.

The indictment also details the lengths that Ms Maxwell allegedly went to in order to conceal her conduct.

Around 2016, while being deposed as part of civil litigation, she “repeatedly provided false and perjurious statements, under oath, regarding… her role in facilitating the abuse of minor victims by Jeffrey Epstein…”

During the deposition, she was asked: “Did Jeffrey Epstein have a scheme to recruit underage girls for sexual massages?”

She replied: “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

She was also asked to “list all the people under the age of 18 that you interacted with at any of Jeffrey’s properties”. She responded: “I’m not aware of anybody that I interacted with, other than obviously [the plaintiff] who was 17 at this point.”

She was asked if she was aware of the presence of “sex toys or devices used in sexual activities in Mr Epstein’s Palm Beach house?”

“No, not that I recall…” Ms Maxwell said.

“Other than yourself and the blond and brunette that you have identified as having been involved in three-way sexual activities, with whom did Mr Epstein have sexual activities?” she was asked.

She replied: “I wasn’t aware that he was having sexual activities with anyone when I was with him other than myself.”

Ms Maxwell also denied giving the second victim a massage or giving Epstein a massage.

The indictment is signed by acting US Attorney Audrey Strauss who has stepped in to head up the Manhattan office following the firing of her boss, Geoffrey S Berman, last month by Donald Trump.

Read the full indictment here.

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