/Feds arrest Jeffrey Epstein associate Ghislaine Maxwell, accused of recruiting child sex victims

Feds arrest Jeffrey Epstein associate Ghislaine Maxwell, accused of recruiting child sex victims

Ghislaine Maxwell, the longtime associate of Jeffrey Epstein, was arrested Thursday morning and charged with assisting the disgraced financier’s child sex trafficking operation.

Maxwell was taken into custody in New Hampshire and is expected to make her first court appearance later Thursday.

A federal grand jury in New York indicted Maxwell on conspiracy charges that accuse her of “helping Epstein to recruit, groom, and ultimately abuse victims” between 1994 and 1997. Both allegedly knew the victims were under age 18 and as young as 14.

Maxwell and Epstein enticed and lured the victims to Epstein’s homes in several states, “which Maxwell new and intended would result in their grooming for and subjection to sexual abuse,” the indictment charged.

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“Moreover, in an effort to conceal her crimes, Maxwell repeatedly lied about her conduct,” including when she gave sworn testimony in 2016, the indictment charged.

Court documents describe an elaborate scheme in which Maxwell and Epstein allegedly accompanied victims on shopping trips and movie outings designed to put the girls at ease in preparation for more intimate encounters.

“Having developed a rapport with a victim, Maxwell would try to normalize sexual abuse … by among other things discussing sexual topics, undressing in front of the victim, being present when a minor victim was undressed and being present for sex acts involving the minor victim and Epstein,” prosecutors alleged.

Epstein, while awaiting trial on the trafficking charges last year, committed suicide in a federal detention center in New York.

Following Epstein’s death, federal authorities vowed to continue the investigation and have sought, but so far failed, to obtain the cooperation of Britain’s Prince Andrew, a friend of Epstein.   

More:The death of Jeffrey Epstein: Fact, fiction, confusion and a warden reassigned

Facing allegations that Epstein once forced a 17-year-old girl to have sex with the prince, Andrew announced in November that he was stepping away from his public duties as a royal. The prince and Buckingham Palace cast the allegations as “false and without any foundation.”

With Epstein gone, however, much speculation has swirled around Maxwell, a British socialite described in civil court records as a co-conspirator accused of recruiting girls to perform sex acts on Epstein.

Maxwell is the daughter of Robert Maxwell, a publishing tycoon and former member of the British Parliament who died in 1991 after falling overboard his luxury yacht, Lady Ghislaine, named after the youngest of his nine children.