Authorities on Thursday morning arrested British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, a longtime confidant of disgraced financier and accused child predator Jeffrey Epstein.
Officials confirmed to WFXT that FBI agents took Maxwell into custody at 8:30 a.m. in Bradford, New Hampshire. She faces several charges related to an alleged scheme to recruit and groom girls as young as 14 for Epstein.
Update 4 p.m. EDT July 2: At a removal hearing Thursday afternoon in New Hampshire, Ghislaine Maxwell agreed to be transferred to the Southern District of New York to face allegations that she helped recruit and groom young girls to be sexually abused by her former boyfriend, Jeffrey Epstein, from 1994 to 1997.
Magistrate Judge Andrea Johnstone remanded Maxwell into the custody of U.S. Marshals on Thursday.
Maxwell waived the right to undergo a detention hearing in New Hampshire. In New York, authorities filed a memo arguing that the 58-year-old “poses an extreme risk of flight.”
She’s expected to request a detention hearing once she’s transferred into the custody of authorities in New York.
Update 3 p.m. EDT July 2: Prosecutors requested Ghislaine Maxwell, 58, be held without bond, saying she “poses an extreme risk of flight” in a memo filed Thursday in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
Authorities arrested Maxwell in New Hampshire early Thursday to face allegations that she procured and helped to groom girls as young as 14 for sexual abuse by Jeffrey Epstein.
Epstein was arrested last year on suspicion of sexually abusing and exploiting dozens of girls between 2002 and 2005. Prosecutors said Thursday that Maxwell helped him perpetuate the scheme even earlier, from at least 1994 to 1997.
In the memo filed in court Thursday, authorities said Maxwell poses a flight risk due to her extensive international ties and the fact that she has citizenship in two foreign countries, among other factors.
“In short, Maxwell has three passports, large sums of money, extensive international connections, and absolutely no reason to stay in the United States and face the possibility of a lengthy prison sentence,” prosecutors wrote.
If convicted, Maxwell could face decades in prison.
“The incentive to flee is especially strong for this defendant who, at age 58, faces the very real prospect of spending a substantial portion of the rest of her life in prison,” prosecutors wrote.
Authorities said evidence in the case includes victim testimony that’s backed up by contemporaneous documents, records and other evidence.
Maxwell is expected to appear in federal court via video conference for a removal hearing in New Hampshire at 3:30 p.m. local time.
Update 12:45 p.m. EDT July 2: Court records show Ghislaine Maxwell, who was arrested Thursday morning on suspicion of helping Jeffrey Epstein to sexually abuse young girls for years, is scheduled to appear in court Thursday for a removal hearing.
Maxwell is expected to appear via video conference for the hearing before Magistrate Judge Andrea Johnstone at 3:30 p.m. local time.
Authorities arrested Maxwell in New Hampshire to face federal charges in New York.
Update 12:40 p.m. EDT July 2: Audrey Strauss, acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said Thursday that the investigation into those who allegedly conspired with Jeffrey Epstein in a sex trafficking scheme involving young girls “remains ongoing.”
Earlier Thursday, authorities arrested Ghislaine Maxwell in what Strauss called “the prequel to the earlier case we brought against Jeffrey Epstein.”
Authorities arrested Epstein in July 2019 on federal sex trafficking charges, accusing the financier of sexually abusing and exploiting dozens of girls as young as 14 between 2002 and 2005. He committed suicide in August 2019 while awaiting trial.
Strauss said Thursday that before that, from at least 1994 to 1997, “Maxwell played a critical role in helping Epstein to identify, befriend and groom minor victims for abuse.”
“In some cases Maxwell participated in the abuse herself,” Strauss said. “As alleged, Maxwell and Epstein had a method. Typically, they would befriend these young girls by asking them questions about their lives, pretending to be taking an interest in them. they would take them to the movies and treat them to shopping trips.”
Strauss said that after Maxwell developed a relationship with potential victims, she would try to normalize sexual abuse by discussing sexual topics with them, undressing in front of them and sometimes participating in or being in the room during the sexual abuse.
“Maxwell’s presence as an adult woman helped put the victims at ease,” Strauss said.
Assistant Director in charge of the FBI’s New York field office Bill Sweeney said authorities had been keeping tabs on Maxwell’s whereabouts as they’ve continued their investigation into abuse by Epstein.
“More recently, we learned she had slithered away to a gorgeous property in New Hampshire, continuing to live a life of privilege while her victims live with the trauma inflicted upon them years ago,” Sweeney said.
“Like Epstein, Ms. Maxwell chose to blatantly disregard the law and her responsibilities as an adult, using whatever means she had at her disposal to lure vulnerable youth into behavior they should have never been exposed and which create lasting harm.”
Strauss said she will ask that a judge hold Maxwell without bail ahead of an expected trial.
Update 12 p.m. EDT July 2: Authorities are expected to provide more information at a news conference Thursday afternoon.
Maxwell has kept a low profile since last July, when authorities arrested Epstein on federal sex trafficking charges. Prosecutors accused Epstein of sexually abusing and exploiting dozens of girls between 2002 and 2005.
Epstein pleaded not guilty. He was found dead on August 10, 2019, while awaiting trial of what authorities later determined to be a suicide.
Original report: In a six-count indictment made public Thursday, prosecutors said Maxwell “assisted, facilitated and contributed to Jeffrey Epstein’s abuse of minor girls.” She faces charges including conspiracy to entice minors to engage in criminal sexual activity and perjury.
ABC News reported that Maxwell is scheduled to appear in court Thursday.
Several women have accused Maxwell of recruiting them to give Epstein massages, sometimes while they were nude or partially nude. Authorities said the massages would often end with Epstein sexually abusing the victims.
Prosecutors said Maxwell encouraged some of Epstein’s victims to take him up on offers to pay for travel or educational opportunities, making the victims feel indebted to them and reinforcing the illusion that they were trying to help the victims.
Authorities said Maxwell “facilitated Jeffrey Epstein’s access to minor victims knowing that he had a sexual preference for underage girls and that he intended to engage in sexual activity with those victims.” In court records, prosecutors said girls were sexually abused at Epstein’s New York mansion, his home in Palm Beach, Florida, his ranch in Santa Fe, New Mexico and Maxwell’s home in London.
Officials with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York are expected to provide more information Thursday at a news conference.
Maxwell has previously denied any wrongdoing and called some of the claims against her “absolute rubbish.”
Among the most sensational accusations was a claim by one Epstein victim, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, that Maxwell arranged for her to have sex with Britain's Prince Andrew at her London townhouse. Giuffre bolstered her allegations with a picture of her, Andrew and Giuffre that she said was taken at the time.
Andrew denied her story. He was not mentioned by name in the indictment.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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