For Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein's alleged recruiter, a private battle has become a public reckoning

She has been charged with conspiring with the infamous sex offender.

July 10, 2020, 4:06 AM

Ghislaine Maxwell, a British socialite and longtime companion of disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein, is facing a reckoning for her alleged role in facilitating Epstein's sexual abuse of young women.

Federal prosecutors say Maxwell played a "key role" in a multi-state sex trafficking scheme, in which she not only allegedly "befriended" and later "enticed and groomed multiple minor girls to engage in sex acts with Epstein, through a variety of means and methods," but was also, at times, "present for and involved" in the abuse herself.

Maxwell is scheduled to appear before a federal judge in New York on Tuesday, where she is expected to publicly address those allegations for the first time. But court filings make clear that Tuesday's hearing is only the latest chapter in long-running legal battles waged mostly out of public view.

Maxwell has been named as a defendant in five lawsuits from alleged Epstein victims, and in at least three others, alleged victims identify her as one of Epstein's primary "recruiters," claims that Maxwell, through her attorneys, has repeatedly denied.

"Maxwell had no involvement in or knowledge of Epstein's alleged misconduct," one lawyer for Maxwell wrote earlier this year in her own lawsuit against the Epstein estate.

In court filings related to that lawsuit, in which she claimed that Epstein had "promised that he would indemnify, defend, and advance any expenses incurred by reason of my prior employment relationship with him and his affiliated businesses," Maxwell contended that she had "incurred substantial expenses defending myself against false accusations and investigations." She claimed to owe more than $318,000 to a criminal defense firm, more than $101,000 to a civil litigation firm, and more than $194,000 in security and relocation costs. The estate, according to court records, declined to reimburse the costs.

According to Joshua Schiller of Boies, Schiller, Flexner, LLP, a firm that represents three Epstein's alleged victims who have filed civil suits against her, Maxwell has been at the forefront of the fight with Epstein's alleged victims long before her recent arrest.

"[Maxwell] has been using this Court as a sword and a shield for many years," Schiller wrote in a filing earlier this year, "and she, Jeffrey Epstein, and their other co-conspirators have attempted to thwart their victims from obtaining justice for decades."

PHOTO: Ghislaine Maxwell at Spring Studios in New York City, Oct. 18, 2016.
Ghislaine Maxwell at Spring Studios in New York City, Oct. 18, 2016.
Patrick McMullan via Getty Images, File

Maxwell, 58, is the Oxford-educated daughter of Robert Maxwell, the larger than life publishing baron whose rags-to-riches story captivated England. She lived an extravagant life among the British elite until her father's business empire collapsed in the wake of his death. She fled to New York looking for a fresh start and was soon seen in the company of the mysterious multimillionaire Epstein.

In a letter to a Florida state prosecutor related to Epstein's 2008 guilty plea, Epstein's attorneys describe his relationship with Maxwell as one of two "long-term intimate relationships" Epstein had in adulthood. They met through mutual friends in 1991, his attorneys said, and parted "amicably" in 2000 because "the demands of his work ... precluded a good married life with children." The same letter contains what purports to be a quote from Maxwell, in which she describes Epstein as a "thoughtful, kind, generous, loving man."

Maxwell has asserted in court filings that she entered Epstein's employ in 1999, where she remained, despite the end of their romantic relationship, until at least 2006.

Maxwell's only sworn testimony on the nature of her work for Epstein can be found in excerpts -- unsealed by a federal court last year -- of two 2016 depositions related to a defamation lawsuit filed by Virginia Giuffre, one of Epstein's alleged victims, who has accused Maxwell of recruiting her into Epstein's alleged child trafficking scheme, an accusation Maxwell denied.

According to Maxwell's testimony, she was responsible for the staffing and management of Epstein's various properties.

"There were six homes," Maxwell said. "I hired assistants, I hired architects, I hired decorators, I hired cooks, I hired cleaners, I hired gardeners, I hired pool people, I hired pilots, I hired all sorts of people."

"A very small part of my job," she added, "was from time to time to find adult professional massage therapists for Jeffrey."

She denied, under oath, that she had ever hired underage girls to work for Epstein, assertions that are now the subject of perjury charges.

"As far as I'm concerned, everyone who came to his house was an adult, professional person," Maxwell said. "I am not aware of teenagers who worked in his home."

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.
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.
Patrick Mcmullan/Patrick McMullan via Getty Image, FILE

But in lawsuits several of Epstein's alleged victims tell an entirely different story, one that often places Maxwell in a role that was central to their abuse.

One anonymous victim, identified only as Jane Doe, alleged that Epstein and Maxwell "attempted to groom and mentor" her when she was just 13 years old.

"They took her to movies, went shopping with her and lounged around Epstein's estate with her," Doe alleged in her complaint. "Epstein and Maxwell then started to make sexual references when they were with her."

Ultimately, according to Doe's complaint, Maxwell "regularly facilitated Epstein's abuse of Doe and was frequently present when it occurred."

Virginia Giuffre, Annie Farmer and another anonymous alleged victim identified only as Doe 1000, have alleged that Maxwell not only recruited girls for Epstein but, in their cases, even participated in their abuse. Giuffre alleged Epstein and Maxwell sexually abused her between 2000 and 2002 and claims that she was directed to have sex with some of their prominent friends; Farmer alleged that Maxwell "groped her" and "touched intimate parts of [her] body against her will for the sexual benefit of Maxwell and Epstein"; Doe alleged "Epstein and Maxwell proceeded to sexually assault Jane Doe simultaneously and by forcible compulsion" and that Maxwell "forcibly penetrated Jane Doe with a sex toy."

Maxwell has, in court filings, strenuously denied any such misconduct.

"She absolutely denies that she participated in this or any other sexual abuse or trafficking or assault," her lawyer wrote in response to Farmer's allegations, "and no court, judge or jury has ever determined that she has."

PHOTO: Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell attend an event in New York City, June 13, 1995.
Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell attend an event in New York City, June 13, 1995.
Patrick McMullan via Getty Images, FILE

Following Epstein's arrest last July and his death in prison a month later, Maxwell's whereabouts became the subject of intense scrutiny. She sold her former residences in New York and London and shuttered her non-profit ocean conservation organization. Various press reports placed her in Massachusetts, California, France and Israel, and attorneys for several of Epstein's alleged victims struggled to locate her in order to serve their lawsuits. She was ultimately arrested by the FBI in Bradford, New Hampshire, where prosecutors say she was living at a 156-acre property, nicknamed "Tucked Away."

Prosecutors are now arguing that Maxwell poses an "extreme" flight risk, citing her "three passports, large sums of money, extensive international connections."

Maxwell is a citizen of the United States, United Kingdom and France, prosecutors said, and she has traveled abroad frequently within the last three years. Prosecutors also believe she possesses "significant sums of money," citing a government investigation that identified "more than 15 different bank accounts held by or associated with the defendant from 2016 to the present, and during that same period, the total balances of those accounts have ranged from a total of hundreds of thousands of dollars to more than $20 million."

As with Epstein, however, prosecutors have found the full extent of Maxwell's wealth difficult to determine.

"The defendant's financial resources appear to be substantial," prosecutors wrote, "and her numerous accounts and substantial money movements render her total financial picture opaque and indeterminate, even upon a review of bank records available to the Government."

Brad Edwards, an attorney who represents several of Epstein's alleged victims, believes that there is still much more to learn about Maxwell.

"I think that's the tip of the iceberg," Edwards told ABC News. "And I would expect the same thing that happened after Jeffrey Epstein was arrested. There's going to be a flood of calls and more information coming in."

But her role in Epstein's story, he said, is already clear.

"Ghislaine Maxwell created Jeffrey Epstein," Edwards told ABC News. "She helped to create the monster that we later understood him to be."

Related Topics