Content warning: The story detail contains details of sexual abuse and suicide.
Ghislaine Maxwell, British socialite and longtime confidante to convicted sex-trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, has been arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. NBC New York reports that she was apprehended at a “reclusive, million-dollar luxury home with 156 acres of rural mountainside property” in Bedford, New Hampshire on July 2.
The six-count indictment in Manhattan federal court alleges that between 1994 and 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.” She is facing up to 35 years in prison.
CNN reports that the charges on the indictment include 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 and two counts of perjury. Maxwell is now in the custody of U.S. Marshals and ordered to transfer to New York City. Preparing for a possible bail request, she did not enter a plea during an electronic appearance in New Hampshire federal court and her lawyer stated that he will request for a detention hearing in New York.
Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said at a news conference that although she was not indicted until June 29, the FBI has been tracking Maxwell for some time. The indictment reads in part, “This case against Ghislaine Maxwell is the prequel to the earlier case we brought against Jeffrey Epstein.”
Beginning in at least 1994, Maxwell allegedly enticed and groomed multiple minor girls to engage in sex acts with Jeffrey Epstein in a variety of ways including building friendships with the minors by taking them to the movies or shopping. She would normalize sexual abuse by undressing in front of the survivors and being present for and even participating in sex acts involving Epstein. She would encourage them to accept financial assistance from Epstein which made them feel indebted. The grooming and abuse took place in several locations: Epstein’s Upper East Side townhouse, his Palm Beach estate, his ranch in New Mexico and Maxwell’s London residence.
Maxwell’s indictment comes a year after Epstein’s. He was jailed while pending trial on sexual abuse and sex trafficking charges. A month after his arrest in August 2019, Epstein hanged himself in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York.
In a statement sent to NBC News, Jennifer Araoz, who said in a TODAY show interview that she was abused by Epstein when she was 15, said, “Today, my fellow Epstein survivors and I are able to take a breath of relief, as Maxwell’s arrest means some justice for survivors can exist. For years, I feared Epstein and his ring. Maxwell was the center of that sex trafficking ring. Now that the ring has been taken down, I know that I can’t be hurt anymore.”
Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse, who urged for an investigation into a deal that gave Epstein and his associates immunity back in 2007, said, “Epstein got a crooked, sweetheart deal years ago that protected his co-conspirators, like Maxwell. Maxwell has been on the run for months because she too hoped to escape justice. We can’t let that happen again—her victims deserve their day in court.”