Ghislaine Maxwell is not in Paris. Or hiding out in Manchester-by-the-sea in a house named "Tidewood." No – Jeffrey Epstein's former girlfriend and alleged conspirator in his underage sex trafficking ring has been found, at... In-N-Out Burger in Los Angeles.
In the wake of Epstein’s death by suicide, the need to hold someone to full account for his vicious crimes has turned toward Maxwell, bringing with it intense media curiosity about her whereabouts. That question was answered on Thursday when a photographer (who promptly sold the photos to Page Six, of course) found her dining outside at the LA fast food restaurant, reading The Book of Honor: The Secret Lives and Deaths of CIA Operatives by Ted Gup. A bizarre activity for someone who's in her position, to say the least.
Accusers have said for years that Maxwell played a key role in enabling Epstein's sex crimes, acting as a procurer and groomer of young girls on behalf of the financier. While she has denied the claims and has not yet been criminally charged, her name resurfaced in the trove of recently unsealed documents related to Epstein accuser Virginia Roberts Giuffre’s 2015 defamation lawsuit against the 57-year-old British socialite.
Prosecutors, meanwhile have intimated that Maxwell very much remains a person of interest. In a statement following Epstein's death, the US Attorney of the Southern District of New York, Geoffrey Berman confirmed that their sex trafficking investigation would continue and emphasized that a count of conspiracy – which would theoretically implicate Maxwell and other Epstein associates – had already been charged. He encouraged any possible victims to reach out to the FBI.
On Wednesday, Epstein accuser Jennifer Aaroz filed a civil lawsuit alleging that Maxwell and three unnamed female household staffers conspired to "make possible and otherwise facilitate [Aaroz's] sexual abuse and rape."
In an interview with Business Insider, Jacob Frenkel, a former federal criminal prosecutor, explained that before Epstein’s death, members of his inside circle, including Maxwell might have been able to leverage information and testimony to make a deal, but that option is now gone.
"To use financial terminology, with Mr. Epstein's suicide the currency they had has been devalued substantially," said Frenkel.
Born in Paris and raised in England, Maxwell is the daughter of publishing mogul Robert Maxwell. Robert lost much of his family in the Holocaust and emigrated to England from Czechoslavakia after WWII where he married and had 9 children – Ghislaine was his youngest and reportedly his favorite. After founding a successful publishing business, Robert served briefly as a member of Parliament eventually purchased tabloid The Daily Mirror.
In 1991 her father’s body was found floating in the waters off the Canary Islands – he’d been cruising there in his yacht, named the Lady Ghislaine for his daughter. Following his death, it was revealed that Robert had stolen millions from the pension funds of his employees at Mirror Group Newspapers, leading to speculation that he’d leapt to his death or been murdered, though the official cause was found to be a heart attack combined with accidental drowning.
In 1992 Ghislaine met Epstein and became a fixture in his social circle which included Donald Trump, Prince Andrew, and the Clintons. Even after their romantic relationship ended, Maxwell remained very much in Epstein’s life, seen often at his homes in New York, France, and the Virgin Islands, as well as aboard his private jet and boats. She was also reported to have personally piloted Epstein's helicopter.
And now, as details of Epstein’s autopsy report have been leaked, Maxwell remains intimately connected to his legacy — a legacy of depravity and the cruel exploitation of girls.
In an op-ed for the New York Times, Aaroz wrote of her decision to name Maxwell in her civil suit, writing, "I want my story to hold Epstein to account and also his recruiters, the workers on his payroll who knew what he was doing and the prominent people around him who helped conceal and perpetuate his sex-trafficking scheme. Their hideous actions victimized me and so many young girls like me."