The British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell will appear in Manhattan federal court this afternoon in her first in-person courtroom appearance since her arrest last July for alleged involvement in the disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein’s sex trafficking of girls.
Maxwell, daughter of the late publishing baron Robert Maxwell, faces a total of eight counts. She is appearing several weeks after federal prosecutors expanded their case against her.
When authorities arrested Maxwell, she faced faced six counts on charges including conspiracy to entice minors to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, enticement of a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex 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 perjury.
On 29 March, a new indictment saddled Maxwell with two more charges – sex trafficking conspiracy and sex trafficking of a minor. This new indictment expands the number of accusers – there are now four “minor victims” listed, up from three. More, this indictment extends the timeframe of Maxwell’s alleged participation in Epstein’s abuse by seven years, between 1994 and 2004, rather than between 1994 to 1997.
Maxwell, 59, has maintained her innocence.
Epstein, a convicted sex offender, was found dead in his cell in a Manhattan federal jail in August 2019, while he was awaiting trial on charges that he sex-trafficked girls as young as 14. Authorities said that Epstein hanged himself.
Maxwell, who was arrested at a secluded, luxurious house in Bradford, New Hampshire, is now detained in a Brooklyn federal jail, having lost several arguments for bail.
Prosecutors have accused Maxwell of “slithering away” into hiding and of previously lying about her involvement in Epstein’s abuse of underage girls, because, they claimed, the truth was “almost unspeakable”.
“Maxwell played a critical role in helping Epstein to identify, befriend and groom minor victims for abuse,” authorities previously said in court papers. “In some cases, Maxwell participated in the abuse.
“She set the trap. She pretended to be a woman they [alleged victims] could trust.”
Judge Alison Nathan recently rejected Maxwell’s arguments to throw out the original charges that, between 1994 and 1997, she recruited three teenage girls for Epstein to sexually abuse. Nathan also rejected Maxwell’s claims that a controversial non-prosecution agreement Epstein had brokered with south Florida federal prosecutors more than 12 years ago insulates her from prosecution.
Nathan did agree that Maxwell can be tried separately on the perjury charges. Nathan also said that she will weigh the defense’s arguments against the new sex trafficking charges later.
The arrests of Epstein and Maxwell have prompted intensified scrutiny of Prince Andrew, who was a confidant of both alleged sex traffickers. Virginia Giuffre, one of Epstein’s numerous accusers, claimed in a civil lawsuit that Maxwell brought her into their circle under the false premise of massage work. After being lured into their world, Maxwell forced Giuffre to have sex with high-profile men, such as the Duke of York, when she was just 17, she alleged.
Maxwell has denied Giuffre’s accusations.
Andrew, both directly and through statements from Buckingham Palace, has repeatedly and emphatically denied all of Giuffre’s allegations.