The FBI arrested Jeffrey Epstein’s long-time friend and alleged procurer Ghislaine Maxwell on Thursday on charges of conspiring with Epstein to sexually abuse children, as well as with perjury about her conduct.
The arrest of the British socialite Maxwell on charge contained in a six-count indictment comes just days before the first anniversary of the wealthy investor Epstein’s own arrest in the case on child sex trafficking charges.
Epstein, a 66-year-old convicted sex offender who was a former friend of Presidents Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, and of Britain’s Prince Andrew, killed himself in a federal jail in Manhattan last August after being denied bail, authorities have said.
Maxwell, 58, is the first person criminally charged in connection with Epstein’s alleged sexual abuse other than him.
The daughter of the late disgraced media mogul and swindler Robert Maxwell has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
The indictment accuses Maxwell of helping Epstein in the mid-1990s recruit and groom victims under the age of 18 — some as young as 14 years old — so that he could sexually abuse them at his residences in New York City, Palm Beach, Florida, and Santa Fe, New Mexico, as well as at Maxwell’s own home in London, England.
“In some instances, Maxwell was present for and participated in the sexual abuse of minor victims,” the indictment says.
It also says she “repeatedly lied when questioned about her conduct” under oath during a legal deposition in 2016 as part of a lawsuit.
NBC News, citing law-enforcement sources, said that Maxwell was arrested in Bedford, New Hampshire, at about 8:30 a.m. Thursday.
She is scheduled to appear in a federal court sometime Thursday.
Typically, a person charged in a federal criminal case is first presented in the federal district in which they were arrested, not necessarily in the district in which they are charged.
The FBI and a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, which is prosecutishsng the case, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The SDNY, which has scheduled a press conference on Maxwell’s arrest for noon ET Thursday in lower Manhattan.
Maxwell’s prosecution by the Southern District comes less than two weeks after the former head of the office, U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman, was fired by Trump. The office is now being led by Berman’s former deputy, Audrey Strauss, the now-acting U.S. attorney.
Berman in the months before his termination repeatedly said that his office was investigating Epstein’s co-conspirators.
Epstein’s victims have called for Maxwell’s arrest ever since Epstein was charged last July.
A former girlfriend of Epstein, who was once paid to manage his properties, Maxwell has long been accused by victims of helping him to acquire a steady stream of young women to satisfy his compulsive obsession with receiving several “massages” each day.
The indictment released Thursday, which was handed up by a federal grand jury in Manhattan, says that the charges stem from her role “in the sexual exploitation and abuse of multiple minor girls by Jeffrey Epstein.”
“In particular, from at least in and about 1994, up to an including in or about 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 abused victims known to Maxwell and Epstein to be under the age of 18,” the indictment says.
“The victims were as young as 14 years old when they were groomed and abused by Maxwell and Epstein, both of whom knew that certain victims were in fact under the age of 18.”
The indictment includes photographs of the residences where Epstein allegedly abused his victims.
The indictment charges Maxwell with conspiracy to entice minors to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, enticement of a minor to travel to engage in illegal sexual acts, conspiracy to transport minors with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, and two counts of perjury.
The charging document, in accusing her of perjury, notes that during an April 2016 deposition of Maxwell taken in New York as part of a lawsuit, she was asked, “Did Jeffrey Epstein have a scheme to recruit underage girls for sexual massages?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Maxwell said.
During another deposition in July 2016, Maxwell said, “I wasn’t aware that he was having sexual activities with anyone when I was with him other than myself.”
One of Epstein’s accusers, Virginia Giuffre, has said in unsealed depositions that Maxwell directed her to have sex with Prince Andrew, former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, a Maine Democrat, former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, hedge funder Glenn Dubin, late MIT scientist Marvin Minsky, modeling company founder Jean-Luc Brunel, as well as with the owner of large hotel chain, and another prince.
“There was, you know, another foreign president, I can’t remember his name,” Giuffre said in one deposition. “He was Spanish. There’s a whole bunch of them that I just — it’s just so hard for me to remember all of them.”
“I was told to do something by these people constantly … my whole life revolved around just pleasing these men and keeping Ghislaine and Jeffrey happy,” Giuffre said in the deposition. “Their whole entire lives revolved around sex.”
Richard and Mitchell have denied ever meeting Guiffre, much less having sex with her. Andrew has denied having sex with her, as has Dubin and Luc-Brunel.
The deposition excerpts released last year are part of a defamation lawsuit that Giuffre filed against Maxwell several years ago. The suit accused Maxwell of calling Giuffre, a liar for claiming that Maxwell and Epstein sexually abused her when she was underage.
Epstein was arrested last year at a northern New Jersey airport after flying from France. An indictment accused him of sexully abusing dozens of underage girls from 2002 through 2005 at his luxurious residences on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, and in Palm Beach, Florida.
He was charged with child sex trafficking and conspiracy to commit child sex trafficking in the indictment, which alleged that he was assisted by a number of unnamed conspirators.
Epstein previously pleaded guilty to state criminal charges in Florida, which included paying an underage girl for sexual services. He served just 13 months in jail, but was free much of that time on work release, a privilege that drew sharp criticism on the heels of his arrest 11 years afterward.
Epstein was a registered sex offender because of his plea in the Florida case, which came as part of a highly controversial agreement with federal prosecutors in southern Florida not to charge him and several unidentified associates on federal criminal charges.
The controversy over Epstein’s treatment grew even larger in August 2019, when he was founded dead in his cell in the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan. Authorities said Epstein hung himself, but his lawyers and brothers have questioned that finding.
Two jail guards have been criminally charged with trying to cover up their failure to monitor him and other inmates as required in the hours before he was found dead.
Epstein’s death came week after he was found semi-conscious and with marks on his neck on the floor of his jail cell.
Prince Andrew’s connections with Epstein and Maxwell received renewed attention last year, leading to his withdrawal from public duties.
Federal prosecutors in the SDNY have formally requested an interview with him, saying he has failed to cooperate as promised with their investigation.
But Andrew’s lawyers last month said the Duke of York has three times so far this year offered to assist the U.S. Department of Justice in the probe.
– Additional reporting by CNBC’s Kevin Breuninger