Ghislaine Maxwell speaks at the Arctic Circle Forum in Reykjavik, Iceland.(REUTERS file photo)
Ghislaine Maxwell speaks at the Arctic Circle Forum in Reykjavik, Iceland.(REUTERS file photo)

Now, Ghislaine Maxwell charged with sex-trafficking a 14-year-old

The revised indictment raises the already steep stakes for Maxwell, 59, who could spend decades in prison if convicted.
Bloomberg |
PUBLISHED ON MAR 30, 2021 05:39 AM IST

Ghislaine Maxwell, the British socialite and former girlfriend of Jeffrey Epstein, faces two new criminal counts and a new accuser who prosecutors say was about 14 when she was groomed as a victim of the duo’s alleged sex-trafficking scheme.

The revised indictment raises the already steep stakes for Maxwell, 59, who could spend decades in prison if convicted. Her lawyers have argued that the government’s case is weak because it’s based on decades-old allegations from three women. On Monday, prosecutors added more heft to it, expanding the time frame of the alleged crimes from a few years in the 1990s to a decade and directly accusing Maxwell of sex trafficking of minors stretching into 2004.

They had already accused her of engaging in a conspiracy with Epstein by helping recruit and groom victims and of participating in some of the alleged abuse. The new sex trafficking charge alone carries a maximum statutory prison sentence of 40 years.

The girl, identified as Minor Victim-4, brought other girls to Epstein to provide him with sexualized massages, and Maxwell and other Epstein employees paid them hundreds of dollars, according to the new indictment. The government says some of the alleged crimes occurred at Maxwell’s London townhouse.

Maxwell, who is fighting the charges, is scheduled to go on trial on July 12. Her lawyer Laura Menninger didn’t reply to an email seeking comment on the revised indictment.

‘Normalizing’ behavior

Prosecutors have said Maxwell played a critical role in “normalizing” the activity by undressing in front of the girls and taking them shopping and to the movies. Minor Victim-4 was about 14 when she met Epstein and Maxwell in Palm Beach, Florida, in 2001, prosecutors say. They claim Maxwell groomed her for sexual encounters with Epstein over a three-year period.

The other new charge is sex trafficking conspiracy, for a total of eight counts, including enticing a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts.

Read the new indictment here

Last week Maxwell, who is in a federal lockup in Brooklyn, New York, lost a third attempt to be released from jail, on a $28.5 million bond and an offer to relinquish her French and British citizenship. She has been in custody since her July 2 arrest in Bradford, New Hampshire, after the judge in her case concluded that she’s a flight risk.

Epstein was found dead in a Manhattan federal jail in 2019 while awaiting trial on his own sex trafficking charges. His death was ruled a suicide.

The case is US v. Maxwell, 20-cr-00330, US District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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