Ghislaine Maxwell, right-hand man of late American multi-millionaire Jeffrey Epstein, will appear in court in New York today. A hearing is scheduled for a possible bail. The lawsuit is a new chapter in the already illustrious life of the British socialite.
During the hearing, Maxwell (58) is officially charged with six crimes. These are all related to the sex offenses for which Epstein was already in prison in 2008 and for which he was arrested again in July 2019. The millionaire committed suicide in his cell a month later.
The chance that his bosom girlfriend will be released on bail is small. According to the prosecutors of the US prosecution, she is “extremely dangerous to escape”. If found guilty, she can face up to 35 years in prison. Maxwell has been detained since last Thursday when she was arrested in a villa in Bradford, New Hampshire.
The charges against Maxwell include urging minors to travel for the purpose of engaging in illegal sexual acts, and actually transporting minors with the intention of engaging in illegal sexual acts. For the sake of simplicity let’s call it prostitution. In addition, there are two conspiracy charges and two perjury charges.
Epstein was known as a mysterious figure who entered the highest circles of society; he was, among others, the financial husband of Victoria’s Secret billionaire Leslie Wexner. Because of her background, Maxwell was a lot less anonymous.
Who is Ghislaine Maxwell?
She is the youngest of nine children in the family of the British media magnate Robert Maxwell and the French researcher Elisabeth Meynard. She attends prestigious boarding schools and studies at the University of Oxford. She is considered the favorite of her father by acquaintances of the family. His yacht, the Lady Ghislaine, bears her name. She also takes charge of Oxford United, the football club her father owns.
In 1991 Robert Maxwell falls overboard while sailing the Canary Islands with his yacht. His body is found in the sea shortly after. The police consider his death an accident. Not much later, it is revealed that Maxwell was in major debt and paid his bills with his employees’ retirement benefits.
Two of his sons are prosecuted for the fraud, but are eventually acquitted. His Pergamon Press, a scientific publishing house, is taken over by the Dutch publisher Elsevier.
After her father’s death, Maxwell leaves for New York. There she meets Jeffrey Epstein. The two get into a relationship, but soon decide that they can get on better with each other. They are welcome guests at high society parties, where they get to know Donald Trump, Bill Clinton and the British Prince Andrew, among others. People who come into contact with Maxwell find her articulate, charming and a true networker.
According to prosecutors in the Maxwell case, she helped Epstein recruit teenage girls as prostitutes during 1994 and 1997. The underage girls are said to have been invited by her to Epstein’s New York, Palm Beach or Santa Fe homes to massage him. During those massages he is said to have abused the girls. In some cases Maxwell would have been there – naked. Also in Maxwell’s London home, minors are said to have been abused by Epstein (and presumably by his friends).
After 1997, Epstein’s alleged abuse continued, including on his private Caribbean island. But that’s not what the current case against Maxwell is about. When Epstein was convicted of sex offences in Florida in 2008 and served his sentence in 2010 (he was allowed to go to prison six days a week for ‘work leave’), Maxwell notices that the reputation of the two has been damaged.
According to friends and acquaintances, this is why she set up the TerraMar Project in 2012, a foundation for the conservation of the oceans. Maxwell speaks at several international conferences and at the United Nations about the goals of the foundation. However, few projects get off the ground. After Epstein’s arrest in July 2019, she closed down the foundation.
From that moment on, she is no longer seen in public. She is said to live in Paris or London – Maxwell has a French, British and American passport – but eventually turns out to have bought a house in rural New Hampshire with cash. There, she is caught on the morning of July 2 by an FBI team. She has always contradicted the charges against her.