Ghislaine Maxwell, the woman suspected of helping Jeffrey Epstein run a sex-abuse ring, has been arrested by the FBI

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jeffrey epstein ghislaine
Jeffrey Epstein with Ghislaine Maxwell.

Joe Schildhorn/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

  • Ghislaine Maxwell, a British heiress and longtime girlfriend of Jeffrey Epstein, has been arrested by the FBI.

  • Maxwell faces charges related to Epstein's case and is scheduled to appear in federal court Thursday.

  • The grand jury indictment accuses Maxwell of grooming young girls, engaging in sexual acts with them herself, and lying about her involvement with Epstein in sworn statements.

  • Epstein, a registered sex offender, died by suicide in jail last August while facing charges related to the exploitation of dozens of young girls.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

FBI agents have arrested Ghislaine Maxwell, a British heiress and longtime girlfriend of Jeffrey Epstein, at a "gorgeous New Hampshire" property on charges that she arranged and participated in the abuse of young girls. 

Epstein died by suicide in jail last August while facing charges accusing him of sex trafficking involving dozens of underage girls.

Some of his accusers have accused Maxwell, the daughter of the British media baron Robert Maxwell, of helping procure and groom the young girls to sleep with the rich and powerful in Epstein's circle.

The FBI had been tracking Maxwell's whereabouts throughout their investigation into Jeffrey Epstein and his associates, FBI Assistant Director in Charge William Sweeney Jr. told reporters Thursday.

"And, more recently, we learned that she had slithered away to a gorgeous property in New Hampshire," Sweeney said, "continuing to live a life of privilege while her victims live with the trauma inflicted upon them years ago."

Maxwell has been charged with an array of crimes related to her involvement with Epstein

A grand jury indictment from the US Attorney's Office in the Southern District of New York, which includes Manhattan, accuses Maxwell of enticing minors to travel to engage in sexual acts, transportation of a minor with intent to engage in sexual acts, and perjury.

"In some instances, Maxwell was present for and participated in the sexual abuse of minor victims," the indictment says.

Prosecutors say that, beginning in at least 1994, Maxwell had befriended young victims of Epstein and groomed them, talking to them about their lives, interests, and school. After building a rapport with them, she'd normalize sexual abuse by discussing sexual topics with them, undress in front of them, and being present as Epstein sexually abused them, the indictment alleges.

audrey strauss ghislaine maxwell jeffrey epstein press conference
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JULY 02: Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Audrey Strauss, speaks to the media at a press conference to announce the arrest of Ghislaine Maxwell.

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Prosecutors say abuse took place at Epstein's homes on the Upper East Side of Manhattan; in Palm Beach, Florida; and in New Mexico, as well as at Maxwell's home in London.

The indictment accuses Maxwell of having minors watch her give massages, including sexual massages, to Epstein and then have them join in. Sometimes they would be nude or partially nude during the massage, the documents say.

"These sexual massages developed into sexual encounters for which Maxwell, in some instances, was present and participated," Audrey Strauss, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, told reporters. 

The perjury charges accuse her of lying under oath during a 2016 investigation into Epstein.

"Maxwell lied because the truth as alleged was almost unspeakable," Strauss added. "Maxwell enticed minor girls, got them to trust her, then delivered them into the trap that she and Epstein had set for them." 

The abuse victims are excited 'but skeptical' about the arrest their attorney says 

The indictment doesn't name Maxwell's alleged victims, as is standard in cases involving sexual abuse. Speaking to Insider Wednesday afternoon, Attorney Spencer T. Kuvin, who represents nearly a dozen of Epstein's accusers, none of whom are involved in this particular case, said that the women are "very excited about the arrest, but obviously skeptical."

"These are victims that have been looking for justice for 15 years," he said. "Every time they seem to get close to justice, it's pulled away from them. They have never seen the US government fully follow through on their promises."

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NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 3: Ghislaine Maxwell attends Polo Ralph Lauren host Victories of Athlete Ally at Polo Ralph Lauren Store on November 3, 2015 in New York City.

Jared Siskin/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Kuvin said his office had no idea the arrest was coming and, just yesterday, was giving interviews about the one-year anniversary of Epstein's 2019 arrest.

Maxwell has laid low since Epstein's death last summer, leaving many to wonder if or when she would face charges over the case. Epstein was arrested in July 2019, and prosecutors said Thursday they're still investigating elements of Epstein's alleged sex-trafficking operation.

Kuvin said the question now is whether Maxwell will go to trial and jail, or cut a deal for evidence she might provide prosecutors.

"One of the victims summed it up very succinctly when she asked 'What does this mean?'" Kuvin said. "I think everyone has the same question, including myself."  

Linked to power

Epstein, and Maxwell by proxy, surrounded himself with powerful men, including presidents, scientific minds, and royals.

Epstein's private plane took President Bill Clinton, the actor Kevin Spacey, and the comedian Chris Tucker to Africa to tour AIDS project sites.

Donald Trump, years before becoming president, described Epstein in 2002 to New York magazine as someone who "enjoys his social life" and likes women "on the younger side."

"I've known Jeff for 15 years," Trump told the magazine at the time. "Terrific guy. He's a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side."

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Donald Trump with Ghislaine Maxwell.

Arnaldo Magnani/Getty Images

Being a "collector" of famous and powerful friends may have allowed Epstein to avoid sex-crimes prosecution as long as he did.

Law enforcement said Thursday that they will continue their investigation into Epstein and Maxwell's associates. 

That includes welcoming Prince Andrew, a longtime friend of the couple, to speak with investigators. Attorneys at the Southern District have been trying to interview him for months, but have been rebuffed.

"We would welcome Prince Andrew coming in to talk with us," Strauss said. "Our doors remain open."

A representative for Buckingham Palace declined Insider's request for comment. The Duke of York's legal team didn't immediately return a request for comment.

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Prince Andrew and Ghislaine Maxwell flank girl who accused Epstein of abuse.

Florida Southern District Court

Detectives in Palm Beach had received complaints involving Epstein and young girls for years. In 2005, they acted on a tip from a woman who said a wealthy man named "Jeff" had molested her stepdaughter.

Two years later, he cut a deal with the US attorney for the Southern District of Florida at the time, Alexander Acosta, that granted him immunity from federal prosecution.

Epstein pleaded guilty to solicitation of prostitution and procurement of minors for prostitution and served only a 13-month jail sentence. He was allowed to leave to work at his Palm Beach office six days of the week.

Epstein was arrested again in July 2019

On July 6, 2019, Epstein was arrested again, this time in Manhattan, over other allegations of sexual abuse.

His attorneys said in court that the charges should be dropped, arguing that the deal cut with Acosta, then a member of President Trump's cabinet, should apply to the entire US and not just Florida.

Maxwell was linked to the new allegations by many of Epstein's accusers. Virginia Giuffre, one of the most vocal Epstein accusers, has described meeting her at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort and being persuaded to live in Epstein's home. Giuffre has accused Maxwell, in addition to Epstein, of repeatedly sexually abusing her while she lived there.

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NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 11: Ghislaine Maxwell attends NATIONAL URBAN TECH CENTER 2014 Gala at Three Sixty on June 11, 2014 in New York City.

Jimi Celeste/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

The legal proceedings were interrupted, however, when Epstein hanged himself in his Manhattan jail cell on August 10.

At the time, Maxwell had not been arrested. She was spotted at an In-N-Out Burger in Los Angeles a few days later but had otherwise been mostly out of view.

The allegations against Epstein have spiraled out into civil lawsuits as well. Giuffre has long alleged that Alan Dershowitz, one of the attorneys who helped Epstein cut his deal with federal prosecutors in Florida, himself had sex with her. The two have been involved in a lawsuit over the allegations for nearly a year, which is only now turning to the discovery phase.

Jacob Shamsian contributed to this report.

This article has been updated.

Read the original article on Insider