What to Know
- Jeffrey Epstein confidante Ghislaine Maxwell was arrested in early July and will face charges that she conspired with the disgraced financier to sexually abuse underage girls
- Epstein, a friend to presidents and captains of industry, died by suicide last August while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges
- Maxwell arrived in New York this week and expected to have a hearing on a possible bail application next Tuesday
Ghislaine Maxwell, the British socialite and heiress who became a confidante of disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein and was later implicated in his alleged sexual crimes, is seeking to be released pending her trial because of the risk of COVID-19.
Maxwell was arrested in Bradford, New Hampshire on July 2 on charges she conspired with Epstein to sexually abuse minors. She was found living at a secluded, million-dollar luxury home with 156 acres of rural mountainside property, federal prosecutors said.
In a memo filed Friday opposing the government's motion for detenton, Maxwell's lawyers asked that she instead be released on home confinement and a $5 million bond. They cited both the risk to her health from COVID-19 and their claim the government has not met its burden under bail reform laws to hold her.
"The proposed bail conditions are consistent with those approved by courts in this Circuit in other high-profile cases, and should be approved here," her lawyers wrote.
Her bail hearing is expected to be held next Tuesday.
The six-count indictment in Manhattan federal court alleges that Maxwell helped Epstein groom girls as young as 14 years old, going back as far as 1994. Prosecutors say she was in the room during — and took part in — the sexual abuse of three underage girls at Epstein's Upper East Side townhouse, his Florida estate and his ranch in New Mexico. She faces up to 35 years in prison.
The daughter of British media baron Robert Maxwell, Ghislaine was a one-time girlfriend of Epstein's and was at the high-flying investor's side for decades.
But she was also alleged to have helped Epstein groom teen girls for sex with the rich and powerful. One of those teens, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, leveled that charge against Maxwell in a 2015 defamation suit, as have a number of other women since.
"In some instances, Maxwell was present for and participated in the sexual abuse of minor victims," the indictment says.
Epstein, a registered sex offender who nonetheless kept company with presidents and captains of industry, was arrested last summer on new federal charges of exploiting dozens of underage girls in New York and Florida in the early 2000s.
He attempted suicide in custody in late July, and then died after another suicide attempt in early August. Two of the guards tasked with monitoring Epstein at the Metropolitan Correctional Center now face federal charges for not properly supervising him before his death.
One day before his suicide, a federal appeals court released the transcript of a 2016 deposition in which Epstein repeatedly refused to say whether Maxwell had procured young girls for him. Maxwell now faces multiple counts of perjury for allegedly lying in her own deposition about Epstein's sexual activities.
"Maxwell lied because the truth, as alleged, was almost unspeakable," Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said.
Maxwell stayed below the radar since Epstein's death, as speculation swirled about whether she could face repercussions for her friend's alleged abuses, and her whereabouts remained a mystery until her arrest. Federal prosecutors said that Maxwell paid cash through a limited liability company for the picturesque retreat where she was found, and the LLC had been established just a month before the secretive sale.
The FBI said that they knew Maxwell had been in New Hampshire, but they were waiting on the indictment to make the arrest.
In a statement sent to NBC News following the arrest, a former alleged victim of Epstein said that she and other victims can now have some sense of relief.
"Today, my fellow Epstein survivors and I are able to take a breath of relief, as Maxwell's arrest means some justice for survivors can exist," said Jennifer Araoz, who said in a TODAY show interview last year that Epstein abused her when she was 15 years old. "For years, I feared Epstein and his ring. Maxwell was the center of that sex trafficking ring. Now that the ring has been taken down, I know that I can't be hurt anymore."
Araoz said in a video interview with NBC News that she believes Maxwell "knows so much that [Epstein] also knew, so this is way for us to get our justice."
Dan Kaiser, an attorney representing other Epstein victims, called Maxwell "the architect of Epstein's sex ring and can now be held accountable."
"As for Ghislaine's importance in Jeffrey Epstein's organization as well as her loose affiliation with the truth, we have worked for years to expose both. Today brings us one step close to justice," said attorney Brad Edwards, who is also representing victims.
The case also ensnared British royalty, bringing an end to the royal duties of Epstein friend Prince Andrew. Prosecutors have been seeking to speak with him for months about his friendship with the financier and the allegations of abuse.
"We would welcome Prince Andrew coming in to talk with us," Strauss said last week. "We would like to have the benefit of his statement."