How Ghislaine Maxwell went from high society to being accused of sex trafficking

Ghislaine Maxwell was born into fame and fortune. It seemed to suit her.

At star-studded events, the glamorous socialite appeared next to A-listers and mingled with heads of state. Then, her world was turned upside down after the sudden death and ensuing scandal of her media magnate father.

Soon afterward, she found herself in the company of now-infamous financier Jeffrey Epstein. Their connection reportedly started as a romance but later became a close friendship and business partnership, as well as an alleged sordid scheme for Epstein to sexually abuse multiple young women.

Epstein is now dead by suicide after he was arrested for alleged sex trafficking, and Maxwell awaits her trial at a New York prison for charges accusing her of enticing a minor to travel to engage in criminal sexual activity, transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, conspiracy to commit both of those offenses, and perjury in connection with a sworn deposition. She has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

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Her lawyer says she’s being kept in inhumane conditions and alleges the government wants to “make sure she can’t prepare for trial,” while the government says she is treated equitably and actually has more time than other inmates to prepare. How did she end up here?

1961: Ghislaine Maxwell is born in France

Ghislaine Maxwell is the youngest of nine children, born on Christmas Day in 1961. Days after her birth, her eldest brother Michael was badly injured in a car crash and was in a coma for seven years.

“The whole family were completely shattered because he was in many ways … the leader of the tribe and he was the apple of my parents’ eyes,” her brother, Ian Maxwell, told “20/20.” “Ghislaine was, to an extent, really ignored.”

PHOTO: “Epstein is dead... The crimes he was then indicted with in 2019, he never faced. But Ghislaine is not Epstein,” her brother Ian Maxwell said.

Their father, Robert Maxwell, was a flamboyant billionaire, a larger-than-life British icon and a media tycoon in the 1970s and 1980s.

“Being with him and around him was always quite tense because he was demanding and difficult,” Ian Maxwell said. “So one tended to be not too close, if one could avoid it.”

PHOTO: Robert Maxwell reclining at his desk while on the telephone, 1987.

Ghislaine Maxwell was born into incredible wealth, but her father was not. He was born Ján Ludvík Hoch to a poor Hasidic Jewish family in Czechoslovakia. Many of his family members were killed in the Holocaust.

“He was one of nine children himself,” said Ian Maxwell. “They were so poor that they had to share shoes, and they all slept in the same room.”

By the time Robert Maxwell was 23 years old, he’d changed his name four times. He earned medals in World War II, where he began to rub shoulders with upper-class British soldiers, and picked up a posh British accent.

Ian Maxwell said that despite their father’s brusque personality, he still “spoiled” Ghislaine.

“I think I could see that, and maybe it was my parents feeling guilty that they had ignored her, really, for the first few years of her life,” Ian Maxwell said.

1983-1991: Ghislaine Maxwell works for her father’s companies

Robert Maxwell set his daughter up with a job on one of the soccer teams he owned, Oxford United. At age 22, she was suddenly working among executives at the club. She also did various work for her father’s Mirror Group newspapers.

She was given a job at her father’s paper “The European,” but he had ambitions of expanding beyond Europe to the United States. In May 1991, he bought the New York Daily News and Ghislaine Maxwell went with him to the states.

Carolyn Hinsey was named the paper’s “communications ambassador” under Robert Maxwell.

PHOTO: Chelsea Chairman Ken Bates with Ghislaine Maxwell, daughter of Oxford United's owner, Robert Maxwell before the First Division match between Oxford United and Chelsea at Manor Ground, Oct. 19, 1985, in Oxford, England.

“When he realized the Daily News didn’t have its own kitchen, he moved us to the Waldorf for $4,000 a night, to a huge suite where he could have many rooms, we could have an office,” Hinsey said. “He had a kitchen, a dining room — the butler could serve him there.”

Hinsey said that Ghislaine Maxwell asked to be the Daily News’s fashion editor, not realizing that the paper was more apt to cover crime and sports.

“I don’t think she was used to being told ‘no,’ because when [Robert] Maxwell told her no, she seemed surprised,” Hinsey said. “Like, ‘But you just bought the paper. Why can’t I have this job?’ Because the job doesn’t exist and the editor doesn’t want you. That’s why.”

Nov. 5, 1991: The end of an empire

Nine months after Robert Maxwell bought the Daily News, he took his yacht, which he’d named the Lady Ghislaine, to the Spanish archipelago of the Canary Islands off the coast of Morocco.

On the morning of Nov. 5, 1991, his crew couldn’t find him and realized he’d gone overboard during the night. Authorities found his body floating in the water.

Theories swirled about whether it was a heart attack, an accident or a suicide. The official cause of death in 1991 was a heart attack combined with drowning.

“Ghislaine, however, uniquely in our family, has always thought he was murdered, and she’s alone in that,” Ian Maxwell said. “But it’s her profound conviction that that is what happened.”

PHOTO: Members of the immediate family of the late Robert Maxwell stand behind the body laying on a stretcher during the funeral service in Jerusalem's main convention hall, Nov. 10, 1991.

Shortly after Robert Maxwell’s death, it was discovered that he had plundered hundreds of millions of dollars from his employee pension funds in the U.K. to prop up his crumbling business empire.

His two sons, Kevin and Ian Maxwell, were tried for fraud in connection to the pension money but were acquitted and cleared of any wrongdoing.

Robert Maxwell’s empire collapsed and his family had to leave their home in Oxford, England. His possessions were auctioned off.

“Ghislaine is the baby of the family and the one who was closest to her father,” her mother, Elisabeth Maxwell, told Vanity Fair in a March 1992 article. “The whole of Ghislaine’s world has collapsed, and it will be very difficult for her to continue.”

Less than a year after her father’s death, British photographers spotted her at Heathrow Airport in London with Jeffrey Epstein.

Epstein was a Brooklyn native who had previously taught math at a private New York City prep school. He moved into the banking world and climbed through the ranks, eventually opening his own consulting firm, which he claimed catered exclusively to billionaires. In the late 1980s, he managed the financial affairs of billionaire Leslie Wexner, founder of L Brands, which includes Victoria’s Secret and Bath and Body Works.

In a 2016 deposition, Ghislaine Maxwell said she met Epstein at some point in 1991 through a mutual friend. Ian Maxwell said he met Epstein briefly but generally had “no knowledge of their life or life that Ghislaine was leading [at the time] in any great detail.”

PHOTO: Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell attend an event in New York City, June 13, 1995.

“You can meet some people [and] you really feel that this is a great guy to have a drink with. I never had that impression,” he said of Epstein. “But he was clearly an intelligent man and he had a charisma.”

Theories swirled about the couple’s power through his money and her A-list connections.

“My father was an extraordinarily well-connected man. So she had grown up in that world and was able to move in it very freely,” Ian Maxwell said.

The couple mingled publicly with Donald Trump, British royals like Prince Andrew and even attended a reception for donors in 1993 at Bill Clinton’s White House.

1994: Earliest accusations of grooming and sex abuse

Federal prosecutors now say Ghislaine Maxwell first assisted in the sexual exploitation of minor girls by Epstein in 1994. Annie Farmer has publicly identified herself as one of the underage victims at the center of the criminal case against Ghislaine Maxwell.

In 1995, Maria Farmer was working for Jeffrey Epstein as a receptionist at his New York City townhouse, which is where she says she came to know Ghislaine Maxwell.

“Ghislaine was 100% the lady of the house at Jeffrey’s. He made that very clear. We knew who was in charge and it was Ghislaine,” Farmer, a 25-year-old aspiring artist at the time, told “20/20.”

When Maxwell asked about her family, Farmer said she spoke about her little sister Annie, who was still in high school and would be looking at colleges soon. Farmer said Ghislaine Maxwell suggested she talk to Epstein about it.

“What I understood was that Maria had a very wealthy boss and that he might want to help me with school,” Annie Farmer told “20/20.” “I just thought, ‘Wow, this sounds like a great opportunity.’”

Annie Farmer said Epstein called her mother to tell her about a supposed program that would include 20 to 25 students from all over the U.S., and that Ghislaine Maxwell would be the chaperone. Believing the offer to be legitimate, Annie Farmer traveled to Epstein’s ranch in New Mexico.When Farmer arrived at the ranch far outside of Santa Fe, she said she realized there were no other students there and seemingly no school program at all. She was alone with Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell.

PHOTO: Sisters Maria and Annie Farmer allege Ghislaine Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein lured Annie, then 16 years old, to his ranch in New Mexico.

“It wasn’t an immediate alarm. It was just sort of, ‘OK. I guess this is somewhat different than what I must have misunderstood,’” she said. “I remember that I had brought some homework with me that I needed to work on… I think I was actually doing a paper about some British writers.”

Annie Farmer described Ghislaine Maxwell as “witty and quick and instantly engaging in conversation,” and said that she “felt quickly comfortable” talking to her about the assignment on British writers.

“As a young woman I looked up to her as an older sister type,” Annie Farmer said.

Maxwell took her shopping around Santa Fe, Annie Farmer said, and she encouraged her to pick out things she’d liked, including $100 cowboy boots.

“The first thing that gave me pause was I remember being in this living room area with Epstein and Maxwell, and Maxwell telling me that Epstein really liked to get foot rubs, and that it would be a good idea for me to learn how to massage his feet,” Annie Farmer said. “I think if Epstein had been suggesting that, I would have been clearly alarmed. But because it was her, I was more open to that… They were really really good at figuring out how to push boundaries so that I didn’t say, ‘No I’m not going to do this.’ I just felt uneasy, but [I] did it.”

PHOTO: Annie Farmer alleges Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell lured her to Epstein's ranch in New Mexico.

Annie Farmer said the trio went to see “Primal Fear” at a theater, a movie that contains sexual content and themes of pedophilia.

“It was uncomfortable to be exposed to that with him,” she said. “Epstein sat himself next to me, and very quickly started holding my hand and caressing me, and kind of touching my feet and my leg.”

In court filings, Annie Farmer said Ghislaine Maxwell repeatedly insisted on giving her a massage.

“I was very aware that the door was opened and I could be seen getting a massage, and then at some point she just takes the sheet down, so she exposed my breasts,” Annie Farmer said. “I feel uncomfortable. I feel like Epstein can probably see me right now. She touches me around my chest … blurring the boundaries of normal or not normal… This was such a scary situation for me, so I just needed to just manage that and to go on as if everything was normal.”

At only 16 years old, Annie Farmer was completely isolated on the ranch while her family was back home in Arizona.

At one point, she said Epstein came into her bedroom, got in bed with her and tried to sexually assault her. Annie says that Epstein physically restrained her and started pressing up against her. And she says she was frozen in fear. She said she remembered getting out of bed, going to the bathroom and shutting the door.

“My sister never shared with me anything about what had happened with Ghislaine and Jeffrey. I didn’t understand until much later,” Maria Farmer said. “They thought it was OK to touch a 16-year-old, the person that I loved more than anyone in the world, and there is nothing OK about that.”

In 2019, Annie Farmer filed a lawsuit against Jeffrey Epstein’s estate and Ghislaine Maxwell. She eventually accepted a compensation offer from the Epstein Victims’ Compensation Fund, which required her to drop her lawsuit.

Annie Farmer’s story represents one of the first cases in which Ghislaine Maxwell allegedly played a role in grooming and luring underage girls to Epstein. In court filings, Ghislaine Maxwell’s lawyers say that she denies involvement in any of the activity that Annie Farmer says took place.

“Maxwell was a really important part of the grooming process,” Annie Farmer said. “They worked together as a team, I think.”

2000: Ghislaine Maxwell manages Jeffrey Epstein’s properties

Maxwell moved to a $5 million mansion on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, five blocks south of Jeffrey Epstein’s mansion.

In a 2016 deposition, she said she hired assistants, architects, decorators, cooks and cleaners for his properties. She also said that from time to time, she would visit spas.

“I would visit professional spas, I would receive a massage and if the massage was good I would ask that man or woman if they did home visits,” she said.

2001: Massage trainees Chauntae Davies and Teresa Helm say they are lured to Jeffrey Epstein’s home

Chauntae Davies says she met Ghislaine Maxwell at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills. Davies was 21 years old and training to be a massage therapist.

“[Ghislaine Maxwell] called and offered to have me fly out for the weekend to work as her masseuse in Palm Beach,” Davies said. “I was just bugging out that I was going at all. I had never been on a private plane before. I had barely been anywhere, really.”

PHOTO: Chauntae Davies met Ghislaine Maxwell at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills. Davies was 21 years old and training to be a massage therapist.

Around that same time, 22-year-old Teresa Helm was also studying to be a masseuse when she says she was approached by someone with a job offer to work for a wealthy couple and was told to meet Maxwell in New York for an interview.

She later filed a lawsuit against Epstein’s estate for her alleged abuse.

PHOTO: When she was 22 years old Teresa Helm was studying to be a masseuse when she was approached to work for Maxwell.

“It was going to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity; that I would be flying, traveling the world being a personal, private massage therapist,” Helm told “20/20.”

Helm said that after arriving at Ghislaine Maxwell’s townhouse, she gave her a massage. Then, she said she was suddenly told to meet Maxwell’s partner as the second part of the “interview.”

“That was the first time I had heard anything about meeting anyone else,” Helm said. “She told me to give Jeffrey what he wants because Jeffrey always gets what he wants.”

Helm said she walked through an “elaborate door” to Epstein’s mansion on the Upper East Side; he led her to his office, where he asked for a foot massage.

“He puts his foot up on my leg and I start giving him a foot massage. … He starts pushing his foot closer and closer to me to the point where his foot is literally pressing up against my body,” Helm said. “He grabbed my chin in his hand and he said to me, ‘I know I can always trust a woman who shows her gums when she smiles.’… I was very scared, so I get up from the couch … and he grabbed me from behind. I just completely froze and he assaulted me in the hallway.”

“When I made it to the door, he said to me, ‘Don’t do anything that I wouldn’t do,’” she added. “I took that as a direct threat.”

Davies has a similar story. She said she set up her massage table at Epstein’s Palm Beach home and he came into the room.

“[He] gave me a little once over. I started the massage, and he was asking me questions … [like] how I liked massage school,” Davies said. “He flipped over, and he asked if I minded if he touched himself, and I freeze. I remember being so confused. … I didn’t know what to say. I said, ‘Sure.’”

Helm never spoke to Ghislaine Maxwell or Epstein again, but Davies said she continued to occasionally work for and travel with them. Davies says that Epstein sexually assaulted her on numerous occasions.

PHOTO: “[Ghislaine Maxwell] called and offered to have me fly out for the weekend to work as her masseuse in Palm Beach,” Chauntae Davies said.

“I had already come from a background in which I had been taught to accept abuse,” she said. “It just became a situation, where I just got deeper and deeper into it and I didn’t know how to pull myself out really.”

Davies says Ghislaine Maxwell was “the puppeteer in it all.”

“She knew how she was playing me. She knew how she was setting me up. She knew exactly that she was delivering me to the home of a predator,” Helm said. “Ghislaine Maxwell is a master manipulator of human emotion and environment.”

Helm accepted a compensation offer from Epstein’s victims fund last year, which required her to withdraw her lawsuit. Davies and Helm are not part of the criminal case against Ghislaine Maxwell and they didn’t file lawsuits against her. Maxwell has never formally responded to their claims, but she has broadly denied any knowledge of Epstein’s crimes or involvement in any illegal activity.

PHOTO: The home of Jeffrey Epstein in Palm Beach, Fla.

“Every allegation should be taken seriously, but that doesn’t mean every allegation should be believed without questioning. Without scrutiny,” David Oscar Markus, Maxwell’s appellate lawyer, told “20/20.” “Ghislaine [has] never admitted to any wrongdoing because she’s not done anything wrong. She’s been fighting about this now in civil and criminal litigation saying she’s innocent.”

2005: Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged Palm Beach victims come forward

A 14-year-old girl came forward to police, saying she’d gone to Epstein’s home to give him a massage and that she was sexually assaulted while there. The Palm Beach police began an investigation, bringing in more victims who alleged that Epstein had offered them money for sexual acts.

Each accuser had a similar story: Once inside the house, they would be taken upstairs to Epstein’s bedroom, where he would enter wearing only a towel. They said they’d rub his back or feet and eventually, he’d turn over nude and assault them.

Ghislaine Maxwell says she was very rarely in Florida at the time of the police investigation in Palm Beach.

“The nature of my work relationship with him changed over time. So, from around 2002, 2003, the work lessened considerably,” she said in a deposition years later. “I ceased to be happy in the job and I ceased to be happy spending time with Mr. Epstein.”

Investigators knew Ghislaine Maxwell was closely associated with Epstein, but at the time, Palm Beach police did not consider her a suspect and did not develop any evidence that she was involved in the alleged child sex abuse, according to the depositions given years later by the lead detective on the case.

2006: Epstein faces charges in connection to Palm Beach victims

Epstein was arrested in Palm Beach and charged by a grand jury with one count of solicitation of a prostitute. The indictment didn’t mention any underage victims or minors.

PHOTO: This March 28, 2017, file photo, provided by the New York State Sex Offender Registry shows Jeffrey Epstein.

However, after finding multiple alleged victims, Palm Beach police were unhappy with this single charge and contacted the FBI, which continued the investigation and identified additional victims. They also spoke with Maria and Annie Farmer.

“The fact that the FBI came to visit me suggested that they were aware that this was a much wider scheme, that this was not limited to what was happening in Florida,” Annie Farmer said.

June 30, 2008: Jeffrey Epstein quietly cuts a deal

Epstein took a plea deal in state court to avert federal charges. He pleaded guilty to one count of solicitation of prostitution plus one charge of solicitation of a minor and served 13 months in Palm Beach County Jail.

Despite his new status as a convicted sex offender, Ghislaine Maxwell didn’t completely cut ties with him. In a deposition she said that even after he was behind bars, she continued to do occasional work at his properties.

“I’m a very loyal person and Jeffrey was very good to me when my father passed away,” she said in the 2016 deposition. “I felt that it was a very thoughtful, nice thing for me to do to help in a very limited fashion.

Summer 2009: Virginia Roberts Giuffre files a lawsuit against Jeffrey Epstein

Giuffre filed the lawsuit against Epstein under the pseudonym Jane Doe 102. She alleged that Ghislaine Maxwell had recruited her when she had been working at Mar-a-Lago, Donald Trump’s Florida resort, as a changing room assistant. She was a teenager at the time.

PHOTO: Victims of Jeffrey Epstein, from left, Sarah Ransome, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, and Marijke Chartouni find support in each other after having met at an emotional court hearing for victims of Epstein, Aug. 27, 2019.

Maxwell took Giuffre to Epstein, Giuffre alleged in her lawsuit. She says she found him lying naked on a massage table, she was instructed to take off her clothes and both Maxwell and Epstein touched her.

Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell carried on with her for years, she alleges, and that they made her their “sex slave.”

The lawsuit was the first time Ghislaine Maxwell had been publicly accused of being one of Epstein’s main accomplices.

Epstein settled his lawsuit with Jane Doe 102, or Virginia Roberts Guiffre, in 2009.

2012-2015: Ghislaine Maxwell does press for nonprofit, then sex trafficking allegations resurface

She created TerraMar, an organization to educate people about the ocean and its conservation.

PHOTO: TerraMar's Ghislaine Maxwell and his holiness the Gyalwang Drukpa attend a reception at Ghislaine Maxwell's residence after "StarTalk Live! Water World" Panel Discussion, June 5, 2014, in New York.

She spoke about the organization at the United Nations, in a video series with the Huffington Post, and CNN.

Then, in 2015, Giuffre’s allegations came back into the spotlight. In new court filings in a case brought by alleged victims of Epstein challenging his deal with the U.S. Government, Giuffre went into greater detail about Maxwell’s alleged role in Epstein’s sex trafficking.

For the first time in court, Giuffre, under the psuedonym Jane Doe 3, claimed that Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell had directed her to have sex with Prince Andrew on three occasions. Maxwell, through an agent, released a statement saying Giuffre’s claims are “obvious lies.”

On behalf of Prince Andrew, Buckingham Palace issued a statement in 2015 emphatically denying that the Prince had had any form of sexual contact or relationship with Giuffre.

The Prince himself echoed those denials during a speech a few weeks later in Switzerland.

Giuffre’s lawyers say their requests for a statement under oath from the Duke, about the allegations, were unanswered.

Later in 2015, a Florida judge ruled that Giuffre’s allegations involving Maxwell and other third parties were unnecessary in the case against the government and ordered those accusations stricken from the public record of the case. The court made no ruling on the merit of Giuffre’s allegations.

GIuffre subsequently sued Maxwell for defamation. That case settled just prior to the scheduled trial date in 2017 with no admission of wrongdoing.

July 2019: Jeffrey Epstein is arrested again

On July 6, Epstein was arrested at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey, fresh off a flight from Paris.

“I never dreamed that he would be arrested,” Annie Farmer said.

PHOTO: File photo of the Metropolitan Correctional Center, which is operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, in lower Manhattan of New York City on Nov. 19, 2019.

Prosecutors charged Epstein with sex trafficking and sex trafficking conspiracy, meaning he didn’t act alone.

Aug. 10, 2019: Jeffrey Epstein kills himself behind bars

As the news media’s focus shifted to the system’s failure to prevent Epstein’s suicide, it also moved to Ghislaine Maxwell’s alleged role in the scheme.

“I just hope … there’s justice and I hope there’s accountability and I hope there’s significant consequence for the behaviors of Ghislaine Maxwell,” Helm told “20/20.”

“Let me assure you that this case will continue on against anyone who was complicit with Epstein,” then-Attorney General Bill Barr said on August 12, 2019. “Any co-conspirators should not rest easy. The victims deserve justice, and they will get it.”

Maxwell had three passports — British, French and American — and a fortune of $20 million spread between a list of bank accounts. There were many theories about where in the world she could be.

“Epstein is dead… The crimes he was then indicted with in 2019, he never faced. But Ghislaine is not Epstein,” Ian Maxwell said. “The real problem [is] that the media frenzy about her… It’s the same old rubbish. So that’s all that the public has ever heard. They’ve never heard the defense to all of this.”

In November 2019, Prince Andrew went on BBC’s “Newsnight” in a rare highly-anticipated interview to address his relationship with Epstein.

He claimed he was unaware that Epstein was having sex with underage girls and said he had no memory of meeting Giuffre, even suggesting that the photograph of them together may have been faked. He faced severe criticism for the interview and was later forced to resign from royal duties.

July 2, 2020: Maxwell is arrested in New Hampshire

A year after Epstein’s arrest, the FBI arrived at Maxwell’s door. She had moved to a remote estate in New Hampshire, nicknamed “Tucked Away.”

Maxwell had “slithered away to a gorgeous property in New Hampshire, continuing to live a life of privilege while her victims continue to live with the trauma inflicted upon them years ago,” said Bill Sweeney, the assistant director of the FBI’s New York Field Office, at a news conference announcing Maxwell’s arrest.

Her brother refutes that she was hiding, saying her lawyers knew “where she was at all times.”

Prosecutors allege that Maxwell didn’t open the door when the agents arrived and moved to an interior room of the house, forcing the agents to breach the door to get inside.

“She’s arrested with hoopla, with helicopters and the FBI running about. It’s pure prejudice,” Ian Maxwell said. “If she was gonna run away with her French passport, her English passport, she could have hopped on a plane any moment. Her lawyers knew exactly where she was at all times.”

At the time of her arrest, Maxwell informed authorities that she had been married since 2016 – a surprise revelation to prosecutors, the public and even Maxwell’s own family.

PHOTO: Ghislaine Maxwell appears via video link during her arraignment hearing where she was denied bail for her role aiding Jeffrey Epstein to recruit and eventually abuse of minor girls, in New York, July 14, 2020.

“I mean, it was surprising,” Ian Maxwell said. “Ghislaine took the view that she’s entitled to a private life and she’s going to have it and it’s going to be private including from her own family. That’s okay. I’m alright with that. I don’t see that’s so wrong.”

Maxwell’s spouse, whose name has been redacted from the public version of court filings, told the court in a letter last December advocating for her release on bail that the person described in the federal government’s criminal charges is “not the person we know.”

Audrey Strauss, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, charged Ghislaine Maxwell with helping Epstein to sexually exploit and abuse minor girls from 1994 to 1997.

“Maxwell played a critical role in helping Epstein to identify, befriend and groom minor victims for abuse. In some cases, Maxwell participated in the abuse herself,” Strauss said. “Maxwell’s presence as an adult woman helped put the victims at ease.”

There were three unnamed victims in the initial indictment. Prosecutors allege that Ghislaine Maxwell groomed one girl of about 14 years old to engage in sex acts with Epstein in New York and Florida multiple times. Ghislaine Maxwell encouraged another underage girl in London, the government says, to massage Epstein, knowing that he would engage in sex acts with the girl during the massages.

Annie Farmer publicly identified herself as one of the victims and addressed the court via video conference to urge the judge to keep Maxwell detained until trial.

“[Maxwell] is a sexual predator who groomed and abused me and countless other children and young women. She has never shown any remorse for her heinous crimes, for the devastating, lasting effects her actions caused,” Farmer told the court during Maxwell’s initial hearing last July.

Maxwell has pleaded not guilty to all the charges against her.

“These are very serious charges,” Ian Maxwell said. “But at the same time, I also thought this is not my sister. She could not possibly have been involved in this kind of activity.”

Maxwell’s defenders contend that the federal government chose to pursue the case against her only after Epstein’s death and the ensuing outcry from his alleged victims and the public.

“She wouldn’t have even been charged had she not been associated with Epstein,” Markus said. “Epstein died. They need someone. Let’s be honest about what’s going on here. If there was real evidence, she would have been charged long ago.”

Prosecutors have rejected the defense’s argument that Maxwell was targeted as a substitute for Epstein. They say the “driving force” behind the case is that the “victims were sexually abused as minors as a direct result of Ghislaine Maxwell’s actions, and they have carried the trauma from these events for their entire adult lives. They deserve to see her brought to justice at a trial,” according to a government filing last summer.

In her attempts to be released on bail pending trial, more than a dozen of Ghislaine Maxwell’s friends and relatives wrote letters to the court as part of her bail application.

Despite what Maxwell’s team says was a considerable offer, including relinquishing her citizenship in both Britain and France, she has been denied bail on five separate occasions by the trial court and an appeals court. U.S. District Court Judge Alison Nathan, who is overseeing Maxwell’s criminal trial, has determined that Maxwell is a flight risk.

“People like Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, Bernie Madoff, heck, even John Gotti was released on bond [and were] accused of much more serious crimes,” Markus said. “Why do they get the presumption of innocence when a 59-year-old woman accused of much less serious crimes than them has to be detained?”

Maxwell is being held at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn. The Maxwell family built a website where they post information about her and the case.

“I visited Ghislaine Maxwell at the jail and anybody who would see the condition she’s under would be shocked. She’s stuck in a small 6-by-9-foot room,” Markus said. “She’s basically kept in solitary confinement unless you count the rats and the cockroaches as roommates.”

Ian Maxwell says she’s poorly fed and “has no sleep of any real quality” because of the constant surveillance from guards, including regular flashlight checks of her cell at night.

The federal Bureau of Prisons has defended its treatment of Maxwell, saying the regular checks with flashlights are done by pointing the light at the ceiling of the cell. They also said despite forbidding the use of eye masks, Maxwell was allowed to use non-contraband items to cover her eyes, like other inmates.

March 2021: A new indictment against Ghislaine Maxwell

Prosecutors filed an additional indictment with an additional underage victim. They say Ghislaine Maxwell interacted multiple times with this fourth victim at Epstein’s Palm Beach mansion in the early 2000s.

Prosecutors allege Ghislaine Maxwell was present when the girl was nude in Epstein’s massage room, and that Ghislaine Maxwell called her to schedule appointments and encouraged her to recruit other young females to provide sexualized massages to Epstein.

Ghislaine Maxwell appeared in a courtroom for the first time since her arrest in July 2020 and her defense attorney entered a not guilty plea on her behalf. Her appearance at the time was in stark contrast to her glamorous image of the past.

“That’s how frail she is,” Markus said. “No one under those conditions can effectively and adequately prepare for trial.

The government has defended Ghislaine Maxwell’s treatment, and said that she has “more time … than any other inmate” in the facility, “13 hours per day, seven days per week,” to review documents from her case. She is also permitted 25 hours of video calls with her attorneys each week, it said.

November 2021: Ghislaine Maxwell’s upcoming trial

Maxwell’s trial is scheduled to begin in late November, on the Monday after the Thanksgiving holiday.

Prosecutors have contended in court filings that they have a strong case. They say it will be anchored by the testimony of the four alleged victims, and they say there will be other witnesses and documents confirming that those alleged victims were with Maxwell and Epstein where and when they said they were.

“Wait till the trial. People shouldn’t make up their mind just yet,” Markus said. “Let’s see what people say under oath and after they’re cross-examined.”

Helm says Ghislaine Maxwell is “not a replacement for Jeffrey Epstein,” and that she too must face the consequences of her alleged crimes.

“Not even the slightest bit. Her crimes and her wrongdoing, she has made herself complicit,” she said. “She is a criminal. She’s a predator.”

Ultimately, the decision of whether Maxwell was involved in these terrible stories of abuse, or whether she’s innocent and just a scapegoat, will lie in the hands of the jury.

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