Posted on

Jeffrey Epstein ex-girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell charged in US


Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionActing US attorney Audrey Strauss said Ghislaine Maxwell helped exploit girls as young as 14

British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, an ex-girlfriend of convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein, has been charged in the US after being arrested by the FBI.

She is accused of assisting Epstein’s abuse of minors by helping to recruit and groom victims known to be underage.

After being arrested in New Hampshire, she was brought to court and remanded in custody, for transfer to New York.

Ms Maxwell, 58, has previously denied any involvement in or knowledge of Epstein’s alleged sexual misconduct.

Epstein died in prison on 10 August as he awaited, without the chance of bail, his trial on sex trafficking charges.

He was arrested last year in New York following allegations that he was running a network of underage girls – some as young as 14 – for sex. His death was determined to be suicide.

  • Who is Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein’s ex-girlfriend?
  • Jeffrey Epstein: The financier charged with sex trafficking

Prosecutors allege that between 1994 and 1997 Ms Maxwell helped Epstein groom girls as young as 14.

The charges say she would build a rapport with them – including by taking them shopping or to the movies – and would later coax them into giving Epstein massages during which they were sexually abused.

“Maxwell played a critical role in helping Epstein to identify, befriend and groom minor victims for abuse,” said Audrey Strauss, acting US attorney for the southern district of New York.

Five of the six charges brought against her each carry a sentence of five years with the sixth – transporting a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity – punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

What is the detail of the charges?

Four of the charges relate to the years 1994-97 when Ms Maxwell was, according to the indictment, among Epstein’s closest associates and also in an “intimate relationship” with him. The other two charges are allegations of perjury in 2016.

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell in New York in 2005

The indictment says Ms 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 known to Maxwell and Epstein to be under the age of 18”.

Specifically, she is charged with:

  • Conspiracy to entice minors to travel to engage in illegal sex acts
  • Enticing a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts
  • Conspiracy to transport minors with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity
  • Transporting a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity

She is accused of grooming multiple minor girls to engage in sex acts with Epstein. She allegedly attempted to befriend them by asking about their lives and families and then she and Epstein built the friendships by taking minor victims to the cinema or shopping.

Having built a rapport, Ms Maxwell would “try to normalise sexual abuse for a minor victim by… discussing sexual topics, undressing in front of the victim, being present when a minor victim was undressed, and/or being present for sex acts involving the minor victim and Epstein”.

“Maxwell and Epstein worked together to entice these minor victims to travel to Epstein’s residences – his residence in New York City on the Upper East Side, as well as Palm Beach, Florida, and Santa Fe, New Mexico,” Ms Strauss told reporters.

“Some of the acts of abuse also took place in Maxwell’s residence in London, England.”

The perjury counts relate to depositions she gave to a New York court on 22 April and 22 July 2016. The charge sheet says she “repeatedly lied when questioned about her conduct, including in relation to some of the minor victims”.

“Maxwell lied because the truth, as alleged, was almost unspeakable,” said Ms Strauss.

What is the background?

Allegations against Epstein had dated back years before the parents of a 14-year-old girl said he had molested her in 2005. Under a legal deal, he avoided federal charges and since 2008 was listed as level three on the New York sex offenders register.

But he was arrested again in New York on 6 July 2019 and accused of sex trafficking of underage girls over a number of years.

Some of Epstein’s alleged victims have accused Ms Maxwell of bringing them into his circle to be sexually abused by him and his friends.

One told the BBC’s Panorama that Ms Maxwell “controlled the girls. She was like the Madam”.

Ms Maxwell has denied any wrongdoing.

Earlier this year she sued Epstein’s estate seeking reimbursement for legal fees and security costs. She “receives regular threats to her life and safety”, court documents in that case said.

Another of Epstein’s alleged victims, Virginia Giuffre, has accused Ms Maxwell of recruiting her as a masseuse to the financier at the age of 15.

Details of that allegation against Ms Maxwell emerged in documents unsealed by a US judge last August in a 2015 defamation case but are not part of the charges against Ms Maxwell unveiled in July 2020.

Who is Ghislaine Maxwell?

Ms Maxwell is the daughter of late British media mogul Robert Maxwell.

A well-connected socialite, she is said to have introduced Epstein to many of her wealthy and powerful friends, including Bill Clinton and the Duke of York (who was accused in the 2015 court papers of touching a woman at Jeffrey Epstein’s US home, although the court subsequently struck out allegations against the duke).

Buckingham Palace has said that “any suggestion of impropriety with underage minors” by the duke was “categorically untrue”.

Ms Maxwell has mostly been out of public view since 2016.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionIn a BBC interview in 2019, Prince Andrew said he would testify under oath about Epstein

In a BBC interview last year, the Duke of York said he had met Ms Maxwell last year, before Epstein was arrested and charged. However they did not discuss Epstein, he said.

Last month a US prosecutor said Prince Andrew had “sought to falsely portray himself” as eager to co-operate with the inquiry into Epstein.

US attorney Geoffrey Berman said Prince Andrew had “repeatedly declined our request” to schedule an interview.

The duke’s lawyers previously rejected claims he had not co-operated, saying he offered to help three times.

Prince Andrew stepped away from royal duties last year.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media caption“We would welcome Prince Andrew’s statement” – acting US attorney for southern district of New York, Audrey Strauss

Asked about the prince on Thursday, acting Attorney Strauss said: “I am not going to comment on anyone’s status in this investigation but I will say that we would welcome Prince Andrew coming in to talk with us, we would like to have the benefit of his statement.”

A source close to Prince Andrew’s lawyers told BBC News: “The Duke’s team is bewildered by the DoJ’s [Department of Justice’s] comments earlier today as we have twice reached out to them in the last month and have received no reply.”



Source link

Posted on

Exclusive: FBI investigates Briton, others for Epstein links – sources


(Reuters) – The FBI is investigating British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell and several other people linked to U.S. financier Jeffrey Epstein, who killed himself while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges, according to two law enforcement sources familiar with the investigation.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. financier Jeffrey Epstein appears in a photograph taken for the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services’ sex offender registry March 28, 2017 and obtained by Reuters July 10, 2019. New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services/Handout via REUTERS.

They said a principal focus of the FBI’s investigation is Maxwell, a longtime associate of Epstein, and other “people who facilitated” Epstein’s allegedly illegal behavior.

Maxwell has not been accused of criminal wrongdoing. Her lawyers did not respond to a request for comment.

The FBI also is following up on many leads received from women who contacted a hotline the agency set up at its New York field office in the wake of Epstein’s arrest in July, the sources said.

One of the sources said the probe remains at an early stage.

The sources declined to give further details or identify the people they are looking at apart from Maxwell. However, they said the FBI has no current plans to interview Britain’s Prince Andrew, a friend of Epstein’s who stepped down from his public duties in November because of what he called his “ill-judged” association with the well-connected money manager.

A spokeswoman for the FBI declined to comment.

A representative for the British royal family said that whether the agency interviewed Andrew was “a matter for the FBI.”

Epstein’s suicide in August, at age 66, came a little over a month after he was arrested and charged with trafficking dozens of underage girls as young as 14 from at least 2002 to 2005. Prosecutors said he recruited girls to give him massages, which became sexual in nature.

He had pleaded not guilty.

Following Epstein’s arrest, the FBI urged anyone who had been victimized by Epstein or had additional information to call the agency’s hotline.

U.S. Attorney General William Barr vowed to carry on the case against anyone who was complicit with the financier.

“Any co-conspirators should not rest easy,” he said in August.

The sources said they had received numerous tips from the hotline, which they are looking into.

Virginia Giuffre, one of Epstein’s alleged victims, has said in a civil lawsuit that Maxwell recruited her into Epstein’s circle, where she claims Epstein forced her to have sex with him and friends including Andrew.

Maxwell has called Giuffre’s allegations lies. Giuffre in response filed a defamation suit against Maxwell in 2015.

Giuffre repeated the claims about the prince in a BBC interview that aired this month.

Andrew, 59, also categorically denies the accusations and has said he has no recollection of meeting Giuffre, who was previously named Virginia Roberts.

The two law enforcement sources said the FBI’s principal focus is on people who facilitated Epstein and that Andrew does not fit into that category. They did not rule out the possibility that the FBI would seek to interview Andrew at a later date.

Reporting By Mark Hosenball; Editing by Noeleen Walder and Alistair Bell

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.



Source link

Posted on

Scotland Yard, Met faces questions over Duke and teenager trafficked by Epstein


Scotland Yard was last night (Sunday) under pressure to explain why it failed to carry out a full investigation into allegations that a teenager had been trafficked to the UK to have sex with the Duke of York.

Four years ago, the Met received a complaint alleging that in 2001, Virginia Roberts, 17, was flown to London by paedophile Jeffrey Epstein and coerced into having sex with Prince Andrew.

It was claimed the incident took place at the Kensington townhouse of Ghislaine Maxwell, a close friend of the Duke. A photograph appeared to show him with his arm around the girl while Miss Maxwell looked on in the background.

After assessing the complaint, police decided the matter did not warrant a full investigation.

The Duke vigorously denies having sex with Miss Roberts and insists he knew nothing of Epstein’s activities. But victims’ rights campaigners have questioned why the matter was not pursued, especially given that in 2015 the Met adhered to national policy stipulating that “victims must be believed”, introduced in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal.

Such was the Met’s determination to pursue the policy to the letter that it spent 18 months and more than pounds 4 million looking into complaints by fantasist Carl Beech, who told police he had been raped and abused by a string of VIPs in the Seventies and Eighties.

The Daily Telegraph understands the decision to shelve the girl’s complaint was taken by Assistant Commissioner Dean Haydon, then commander in charge of specialist crime investigations, who reported to Assistant Commissioner Pat Gallan, overseer of Operation Midland at the time.

The Met has so far declined to explain why the complaint relating to Roberts was not taken further. Repeated questions to Scotland Yard about the decision-making process have been met with silence.

Dame Vera Baird QC, the Victims’ Commissioner, is understood to have demanded an explanation but declined to comment directly because of the rules around election purdah. But Harry Fletcher, a victims’ rights campaigner, said the Met needed to be transparent about the 2015 complaint. “There appears to be some worrying double standards here in terms of how Scotland Yard approached two complaints of historic sexual abuse,” he said.

“In one case, a complaint from a vulnerable young woman has been dismissed without further investigation, while at around the same time the Met was going all out to investigate a pack of lies from a fantasist. It is only right that the Met now explains why there was such a divergence in their approach.”

Meanwhile, it has emerged that the Duke held a meeting with Maxwell in Buckingham Palace in the summer, a fortnight after Epstein was placed under investigation by US authorities on fresh sex-trafficking allegations.

In the Duke’s now-infamous Newsnight interview, he admitted seeing Ms Maxwell in the summer but insisted they had not discussed Epstein. Sources have now revealed the meeting took place in the Duke’s private quarters at Buckingham Palace.

U.S. authorities are understood to be keen to trace Ms Maxwell, who has been accused of helping to procure young girls for Epstein – a charge she has always firmly denied.



Source link