On Tuesday, Jeffrey Epstein's accused co-conspirator and former girlfriend, Ghislaine Maxwell, pleaded not guilty to six counts of sex trafficking charges. The charges against Maxwell ranged from “transporting a minor for the purposes of criminal sexual activity” and “conspiring to entice minors to travel to engage in illegal sex acts” to perjury over statements she made in court in 2016. Deemed a flight risk due to her expansive personal wealth, three passports, and wealth of contacts, prosecutors urged New York Judge Alison Nathan to deny her lawyer’s request to release Maxwell on a $5 million (£4m) bond.
After a multi-million dollar FBI investigation, Maxwell is currently being held at Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center. Maxwell was first arrested by FBI and taken into custody on 2nd July in New Hampshire. However, details of Maxwell's arrest that have come to light in the last week paint a more and more bizarre picture of the British socialite who has allegedly spent the last year in hiding.
Maxwell was arraigned on sex trafficking charges in connection to Jeffrey Epstein in July 2019, but she was able to somehow slip into the background amid the news of Epstein’s death. Despite her lawyers' claims, Maxwell was deemed to be in hiding ever since then, largely disappearing from public life.
Maxwell was tracked down to and arrested in the small town of Bradford, New Hampshire where she reportedly bought a secluded, 156-acre property in cash in December 2019. When the FBI finally found her, agents searched Maxwell’s house and reportedly found a cell phone wrapped in tinfoil in what appeared to be “a seemingly misguided effort to evade detection by law enforcement.”
Accounts of Maxwell's arrest also point to the fact that she tried to literally escape detection — right down to the day she was taken into custody. “Through a window, the agents saw the defendant ignore the direction to open the door and, instead, try to flee to another room in the house, quickly shutting a door behind her,” the prosecution wrote in a statement shared in the bail setting court hearing on Monday.
In the months leading up to Maxwell’s arrest, several women who Epstein trafficked or assaulted detailed the ways in which Maxwell was directly involved. She denied these claims in public statements and court documents. In a court filing last week, Maxwell’s lawyers accused the media of “wrongly trying to substitute her for Epstein.” However, the charges against Epstein's alleged co-conspirator sit atop a mountain of evidence and accusations against her.
“From at least in or about 1994, up to and including at least in or about 1997, Maxwell assisted, facilitated, and contributed to Jeffrey Epstein’s abuse of minor girls by, among other things, helping Epstein recruit, groom, and ultimately abuse victims known to Maxwell and Epstein to be under the age of 18,” reads the indictment.
According to The Independent, before Maxwell can request release from prison while awaiting trial, she will hear statements from alleged victims calling for her to remain in custody throughout the court proceedings. This comes as part of her proposed bail agreement that would require her to surrender all of her passports and remain under GPS surveillance at a property in New York.
Though Epstein had gone to trial and pled guilty to felony charges of solicitation of prostitution involving a minor in 2018 and served time in prison, this is Maxwell’s first time facing charges in connection to these crimes. If convicted for the incidents between 1994 and 1997 involving three girls as young as 14, Maxwell could face up to 35 years in prison.