Federal prosecutors announce charges against Jeffrey Epstein associate Ghislaine Maxwell

Audrey Strauss, acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that Ghislaine Maxwell, a former associate of Jeffrey Epstein, was arrested and charged with sex trafficking and perjury.

Video transcript

AUDREY STRAUSS: Today, we announce charges against Ghislaine Maxwell for helping Jeffrey Epstein sexually exploit and abuse multiple minor girls from the period of 1994 through 1997. Maxwell has been taken into custody early this morning in New Hampshire and will be presented this afternoon before a magistrate judge in the District-- of New Hampshire. You will recall that the indictment against Jeffrey Epstein that we filed in July of 2019 charged Epstein with sexual abuse of young girls from 2002 to 2005.

This case against Ghislaine Maxwell is the prequel to the earlier case that we brought against Jeffrey Epstein. As alleged, starting in 1994 until at least 1997, Maxwell had a personal and professional relationship with Jeffrey Epstein. Maxwell was among Epstein's closest associates and helped him exploit girls, who were as young as 14 years old. 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.

As alleged, Maxwell and Epstein had a method. Typically, they would befriend these young girls by asking them questions about their lives, pretending to be taking an interest in them. They would take them to the movies and treat them to shopping trips. Maxwell would encourage these young girls to accept offers from Epstein to pay for their travel and their education, making these young victims feel indebted to Jeffrey Epstein.

After developing a rapport with the victims, Maxwell then tried to normalize sexual abuse with the minor victim through a process known as "grooming." For example, Maxwell would discuss sexual topics with the victim and undress in front of the victim or be present for sex acts involving the minor victims and Epstein. Maxwell's presence as an adult woman helped put the victims at ease. As Maxwell and Epstein intended, this grooming process left the minor victims susceptible to sexual abuse.

That abuse included sexualized massages, during which the minor victim was fully or partially nude. These sexualized massages developed into sexual encounters, for which Maxwell, in some instances, was present and participated. Maxwell and Epstein worked together to entice these minor victims to travel to Epstein's residences, depicted on the other chart at the front of the room, his residence in New York City on the Upper East Side, as well as Palm Beach Florida and Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Some of the acts of abuse also took place in Maxwell's residence in London, England. In addition to allegedly enabling and participating in the sexual abuse of young victims, Maxwell compounded her crimes by repeatedly lying in 2016 when she was questioned under oath. And we have charged those lies in two perjury counts.

Maxwell lied because the truth, as alleged, was almost unspeakable. Maxwell enticed minor girls, got them to trust her, then delivered them into the trap that she and Epstein had set for them. She pretended to be a woman they could trust. All the while, she was setting them up to be sexually abused by Epstein and, in some cases, by Maxwell herself. Today, after many years, Ghislaine Maxwell finally stands charged for her role in these crimes.