Ghislaine Maxwell, a British socialite who was accused by many women of helping procure underage sex partners for Jeffrey Epstein, was arrested in the United States on Thursday on charges of helping to lure underage girls who were then sexually abused by Epstein.
Maxwell, who lived for years with Epstein, was taken into custody around 8:30am in the state of New Hampshire, said FBI spokesman Marty Feely.
Epstein killed himself in a federal detention centre in New York last summer while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.
Maxwell, 58, has been accused by many women of recruiting them to give Epstein massages, during which they were pressured into sex. Those accusations, until now, never resulted in criminal charges.
Indictment: “[Ghislaine] Maxwell assisted, facilitated and contributed to Jeffrey Epstein’s abuse of minor girls by, among other things, helping Epstein to recruit, groom, and ultimately abuse victims…
“The victims were as young as 14.” pic.twitter.com/upk7Ez0Q4f
— Adam Klasfeld (@KlasfeldReports) July 2, 2020
The charges levelled against her on Thursday include two counts of perjury, or lying to investigators, conspiracy, enticing a minor to travel to engage in illicit sex acts, and transporting a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity.
Federal prosecutors said in court papers she had “enticed and caused minor victims to travel to Epstein’s residence in different states” and that Maxwell would assist in their “grooming for and subjection to sexual abuse”.
Prosecutors charged that Maxwell was well aware of Epstein’s preference for minor girls, and that he intended to sexually abuse them.
She was due to appear in federal court on Thursday.
Maxwell has repeatedly denied wrongdoing and called some of the claims against her “absolute rubbish”.
American financier Jeffrey Epstein commits suicide in prison (2:34)
She is the daughter of late British media magnate Robert Maxwell, who founded a publishing house and owned tabloids including the Daily Mirror. It emerged after Robert Maxwell’s mysterious death in 1991 that he had looted hundreds of millions of dollars from employee pension funds to prop up his crumbling business empire.
In the early 1990s, she moved to New York, where she worked selling real estate. Around that time she became romantically involved with Epstein, who described her in a 2003 Vanity Fair article as his “best friend”.
Maxwell largely disappeared from public view in 2016 and was particularly elusive after Epstein was charged with sex trafficking. The Washington Post reported in August that Maxwell had been living in a secluded oceanfront mansion in Massachusetts owned by a technology entrepreneur, Scott Borgerson, who declined to comment when asked about her location.