Ghislaine Maxwell facing new sex trafficking charges

Ghislaine Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein (United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York)

Sex trafficking charges were added Monday to the indictment against financier Jeffrey Epstein’s ex-girlfriend as prosecutors alleged that she groomed a 14-year-old girl to recruit other young females in the early 2000s to provide "sexualized massages" to Epstein in return for cash.

The charges contained in a superseding indictment returned by a Manhattan grand jury alleged that Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell conspired between 1994 and 2004, when, prosecutors say, Epstein was paying her to manage his properties. An indictment returned after Maxwell’s July arrest limited crimes to a three-year period in the 1990s.

Maxwell, 59, has remained in a federal jail without bail after a judge three times rejected bail packages, the last of which included offers to renounce her citizenships in the United Kingdom and France, to be kept in place by armed guards and to post $28.5 million in assets.

Maxwell, a U.S. citizen, has pleaded not guilty to charges brought a year after Epstein was arrested on sex trafficking charges. He killed himself at a Manhattan federal lockup in August 2019. A message for comment was sent to her lawyers. Maxwell has appealed the bail rejections.

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The rewritten indictment added a sex trafficking conspiracy and a sex trafficking charge against Maxwell. It took allegations beyond the earlier charges, which had alleged that Maxwell recruited three girls for Epstein to sexually abuse from 1994 to 1997 and sometimes joined in the abuse. The indictment said Maxwell and Epstein had an intimate relationship during those years.

The indictment added a fourth girl to the allegations, saying she was sexually abused multiple times by Epstein between 2001 and 2004 at his Palm Beach, Florida, residence, beginning when she was 14 years old.

The indictment said Maxwell groomed the unidentified girl to engage in sex acts with Epstein through multiple means, including by giving her lingerie and hundreds of dollars in cash and by encouraging the girl to recruit other young females to provide "sexualized massages" to Epstein.

It said Maxwell "facilitated Jeffrey Epstein’s access to minor victims knowing that he had a sexual preference for underage girls and that he intended to engage in sexual activity with those victims."

Earlier this year, Maxwell’s lawyers challenged the charges against her, saying they were obtained unjustly and didn’t properly allege crimes. They said the indictment also violates an agreement federal prosecutors made a dozen years ago not to charge Epstein or those who worked for him.

In a letter to a judge Monday, prosecutors acknowledged that the rewritten indictment may require defense lawyers to supplement their arguments to dismiss charges.

But the government also promised not to bring another rewritten indictment against her if lawyers do not request to postpone a trial scheduled for July 12.

They also said the fact that the superseding indictment was returned by a Manhattan grand jury should negate an argument by Maxwell’s lawyers that the indictment was unjustly returned by a White Plains grand jury that primarily would have been composed of white people.

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