Ghislaine Maxwell, citing death threats and extensive legal fees, sues Jeffrey Epstein's estate

She claims Epstein had made promises to always support her financially.

March 18, 2020, 10:54 AM

Ghislaine Maxwell, a former girlfriend and long-time employee of sex offender Jeffrey Epstein has filed a civil lawsuit against the late financier’s estate seeking reimbursement of her legal fees and personal security costs. Maxwell, who has been accused in several lawsuits filed by Epstein's alleged victims of facilitating his abuse, claims Epstein had repeatedly made “clear and unambiguous” promises to always support her financially, according to a court filing in the United States Virgin Islands.

“Maxwell reasonably and justifiably relied on Epstein’s promises and put her trust in Epstein that he would fulfill his promises,” according to the lawsuit filed in Superior Court in St. Thomas last week and made public on Wednesday.

Maxwell, a 58-year-old British socialite, is currently under federal investigation for her alleged role in Epstein’s child sex-trafficking conspiracy, according to multiple sources. She is also a named defendant in three civil lawsuits pending in New York filed by Epstein's alleged victims, including Annie Farmer, 40, who alleges that Maxwell sexually assaulted her at Epstein’s New Mexico ranch in 1996 when Farmer was 16 years old.

Maxwell’s current whereabouts are unknown, and she has not been heard from or seen in public for several months. Attorneys for Farmer tried unsuccessfully to locate Maxwell in order to serve her with notice of the lawsuit, according to a court filing in January. Maxwell now faces a court-imposed deadline to file a response to Farmer’s allegations by March 27.

The move was immediately condemned by a pair of attorneys representing Epstein’s alleged victims.

"It is absolutely appalling that Ghislaine Maxwell, who committed crimes with Epstein against these victims, is seeking to drain funds from the very estate that should be paying the Epstein victims’ claims," said Sigrid McCawley, a partner at Boies, Schiller, Flexner, LLP, the firm representing Farmer and others suing Epstein’s estate, in a statement to ABC News. "We view her actions as unconscionable, but this is an individual who lost sight of right from wrong a very long time ago."

“She wants money to hide. It’s crazy. And she wants to take money that should be paid to victims,” Brad Edwards, an attorney who represents more than 20 of Epstein’s alleged victims, told ABC News. ”She should answer questions -- to the victims, to law enforcement and to the public. Not just about whatever business relationship she may have had, but about the entirety of her relationship with Epstein.”

Kyle Waldner, an attorney representing Maxwell, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Waldner is a U.S. Virgin Islands-based attorney for the firm Quintairos, Prieto, Wood & Boyer, P.A.

PHOTO: Ghislaine Maxwell attends VIP Evening of Conversation for Women's Brain Health Initiative, Moderated by Tina Brown  at Spring Studios on October 18, 2016 in New York City.
Ghislaine Maxwell attends VIP Evening of Conversation for Women's Brain Health Initiative, Moderated by Tina Brown at Spring Studios on October 18, 2016 in New York City.
Jimi Celeste/Paul Bruinooge/Patrick McMullan/Getty Images

Epstein’s estate is valued at more than $600 million. More than 30 alleged victims of Epstein have filed lawsuits against the estate since his death. The estate's assets are currently frozen due to an ongoing dispute between the estate and the government of the U.S. Virgin Islands, which filed its own lawsuit in January, alleging that Epstein and his associated companies in the island territory operated as a criminal conspiracy to conceal the trafficking of women and girls.

According to Maxwell’s lawsuit against the estate, she claims to have been employed by Epstein and his companies from approximately 1999 to 2006 as a manager of the multi-millionaire’s luxury properties in New York, Florida, New Mexico, France and the U.S. Virgin Islands. She alleges that when she sought to start her own business venture in about 2004, she “received a typewritten letter from Epstein with a handwritten note asking Maxwell to remain in Epstein’s employ and promising that no matter what Maxwell chose to do, Epstein would always support [her] financially.”

Several women have alleged in lawsuits that they were sexually abused by Epstein at his properties around the world during that same time frame, but Maxwell contends in the new court filing that she “had no involvement in or knowledge of Epstein’s alleged misconduct.”

The most high-profile accusations against Maxwell -- who was well-known in New York for her extensive Rolodex and connections to wealthy and powerful families -- have come from Virginia Roberts Giuffre, 36, who alleged in a defamation lawsuit against Maxwell that Epstein and Maxwell trafficked her as a teenager and directed her to have sex with multiple prominent men, including Britain’s Prince Andrew in 2001.

PHOTO: Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell attend de Grisogono Sponsors The 2005 Wall Street Concert Series Benefitting Wall Street Rising, with a Performance by Rod Stewart at Cipriani Wall Street on March 15, 2005 in New York City.
Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell attend de Grisogono Sponsors The 2005 Wall Street Concert Series Benefitting Wall Street Rising, with a Performance by Rod Stewart at Cipriani Wall Street on March 15, 2005 in New York City.
Joe Schildhorn/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

The prince has denied Giuffre’s allegations, most notably in an interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation last fall. The second son of Queen Elizabeth claimed in the broadcast interview to have no recollection of ever meeting Giuffre. He denied ever having sex with her and contended that a photograph purportedly taken in Maxwell’s London home, which depicts him with his arm around then 17-year-old Giuffre, might have been faked.

The interview was widely regarded as a public relations disaster for the prince, who stepped down from his royal duties in the aftermath. Federal prosecutors in New York, where there is an ongoing criminal investigation into Epstein's potential co-conspirators, have expressed interest in interviewing Prince Andrew about his association with Epstein and Maxwell. But during a news conference earlier this month, Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, contended that the prince had “completely shut the door on voluntary cooperation.”

Buckingham Palace declined to comment on Berman's public statements, referring ABC News' inquiries to Prince Andrew's lawyers, who also declined to comment.

Maxwell settled the defamation lawsuit with Giuffre in 2017 for undisclosed terms and without acknowledging any wrongdoing. In deposition excerpts from the case unsealed last year, Maxwell referred to her accuser as an “absolute liar” and contended that Giuffre, now a mother of three living in Australia, had fabricated the allegations against her in pursuit of financial gain.

Following the publication of this report, Giuffre expressed fresh outrage on Twitter.

“Memo to GM- How dare you play the victim card when you victimised me and countless others. You are a vile, evil, sadistic creature not even worthy of calling a human being. I hope the judge ruling over this laughs you out of court and into jail. #ENOUGH,” she wrote.

PHOTO: An undated handout photo made available by New York State Division of Criminal Justice showing Jeffrey Epstein, issued 25 July 2019.
An undated handout photo made available by New York State Division of Criminal Justice showing Jeffrey Epstein, issued 25 July 2019.
New York State Division of Criminal Justice/EPA/Shutterstock

Since Epstein’s arrest last July, and his subsequent death in a federal detention center a month later, Maxwell alleges that she has received “regular threats to her life and safety, which have required her to hire personal security and find safe accommodation,” according to her complaint against the estate. The complaint contends that the expenses are substantial and ongoing “due to the extensive global coverage” of the Epstein investigation.

Maxwell alleges in the lawsuit that -- after Epstein died -- she received assurances from Darren Indyke, a former Epstein attorney and the co-executor of Epstein’s estate, that she would be reimbursed for her costs.

“Indyke told Maxwell that her legal fees would be paid because she would not have incurred any legal expenses but for Epstein’s alleged misconduct, and that Epstein’s promises would be honored,” the court filing reads.

But Maxwell says in her complaint that the estate has thus far declined or ignored her requests for payment, which prompted the lawsuit. In a quarterly expense report filed earlier this year with a probate court in St. Thomas, which is overseeing the administration of the estate, lawyers for the estate indicated that they had rejected a claim for more than $600,000 in legal expenses submitted by a Colorado law firm that has represented Maxwell in civil litigation since 2015.

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