The woman was 14 years previous when she met the financier Jeffrey Epstein and his companion, Ghislaine Maxwell, within the 1990s. They tried to grow to be her good friend, taking her buying and to the flicks. Ms. Maxwell requested about her household and college.
Then, Ms. Maxwell started undressing in entrance of the woman and recruiting her to take part in sexualized massages of Mr. Epstein, prosecutors mentioned. The sample continued for years, as Ms. Maxwell fed Mr. Epstein’s darkish needs and took part in some of the abuse herself, in accordance with a newly unsealed indictment.
Ms. Maxwell, the daughter of a publishing magnate and as soon as a fixture on New York’s social scene, was arrested on Thursday in New Hampshire, the place the authorities mentioned she had been hiding. She was charged with luring a number of underage ladies into Mr. Epstein’s orbit.
The arrest of Ms. Maxwell, Mr. Epstein’s former girlfriend and longtime affiliate, was the newest twist in a authorized saga that has been a supply of worldwide intrigue and conspiracy theories. The case has drawn in distinguished lecturers, politicians, enterprise leaders and even British royalty.
Ms. Maxwell’s arrest got here nearly precisely one yr after Mr. Epstein was charged in a federal indictment with sexually exploiting and abusing dozens of girls and women at his mansion in Manhattan, his estate in Palm Beach, Fla., and other locations.
A month after his arrest, in August 2019, Mr. Epstein hanged himself in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Lower Manhattan, where he had been jailed pending trial on sex trafficking charges. After his death, federal prosecutors said they would continue to investigate his associates.
For the past year, Ms. Maxwell, now 58, had been hiding out in various locations in New England, prosecutors wrote in a memo on Thursday. She switched her email address and registered a new phone number under the name “G Max.” She ordered packages using a different person’s name for the shipping label.
Most recently, Ms. Maxwell was living on a 156-acre property in Bradford, N.H., where she was arrested, prosecutors said. The property was acquired in an all-cash purchase in December, and prosecutors said the buyer’s identity had been shielded by a limited liability corporation.
The authorities had been tracking Ms. Maxwell’s movements and had recently learned about her relocation to the New Hampshire home, an F.B.I. official said.
The indictment charged Ms. Maxwell with six counts, including transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity. She also faces perjury charges for statements she made during a deposition in 2016 about her role in Mr. Epstein’s alleged sex trafficking operation.
“Maxwell enticed minor girls, got them to trust her, then delivered them into the trap that she and Epstein had set for them,” Audrey Strauss, the acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, said at a news conference on Thursday.
Lawrence A. Vogelman, a lawyer for Ms. Maxwell, declined to comment. She has previously denied wrongdoing in civil lawsuits.
The indictment lists three minor victims who prosecutors say were recruited by Ms. Maxwell from 1994 to 1997, without identifying them by name. Federal laws allow the government to prosecute sex offenses committed against minors at any point in the victim’s lifetime.
Ms. Maxwell appeared Thursday afternoon in federal court in New Hampshire, where a magistrate judge ordered her detained and sent to New York, pending further proceedings there.
In a memo arguing that Ms. Maxwell should be jailed until trial, prosecutors said she posed an extreme flight risk, partly because of her financial resources. Investigators said they had identified more than 15 bank accounts linked to Ms. Maxwell, whose total balance at times was more than $20 million.
Prosecutors described her total financial picture as “opaque and indeterminate.” Between 2007 and 2011, more than $20 million was transferred from accounts associated with Mr. Epstein to accounts associated with Ms. Maxwell, prosecutors said.
For years, Mr. Epstein had been dogged by lawsuits, news articles and even a state criminal case in Florida accusing him of preying on girls and women. But he had avoided any lasting repercussions until his arrest last year by federal authorities, who launched a wide-ranging inquiry into his associates.
As part of the investigation, federal authorities had sought the cooperation of Prince Andrew, the second son of Queen Elizabeth II. He had been a longtime friend of both Ms. Maxwell and Mr. Epstein.
In an unusual move, prosecutors had announced publicly that the prince refused to help with their investigation. Last month, the prince’s lawyers said he had agreed to provide New York prosecutors with a written statement, but would not sit for an interview.
On Thursday, Ms. Strauss said federal prosecutors would still like to speak with Prince Andrew. The investigation is ongoing, and officials urged others who might have been victims to contact the authorities.
“The example set by the women involved in this investigation has been a powerful one,” said William F. Sweeney Jr., head of the F.B.I. office in New York. “They persevered against the rich and the connected, and they did so without a badge, a gun or a subpoena, and they stood together.”
A video from 1992 that was released last year showed Mr. Trump and Mr. Epstein watching and commenting on women together at an event at Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump’s club in Palm Beach, Fla. Mr. Trump told reporters last year that he had not spoken to Mr. Epstein in 15 years.
Mr. Clinton has taken trips on Mr. Epstein’s private jet and visited his home in New York, but the two had not spoken in a decade, a spokesman said last year.
Last year’s indictment against Mr. Epstein was brought under Geoffrey S. Berman, then the U.S. attorney in Manhattan. President Trump fired Mr. Berman less than two weeks ago, which led to Mr. Berman’s top deputy, Ms. Strauss, taking over the investigation.
Ms. Strauss said that the timing of the charges had nothing to do with Mr. Berman’s firing.
Lawsuits have long accused Ms. Maxwell of managing a network of recruiters to entice young and often financially strapped girls and women into Mr. Epstein’s scheme, promising he would help them with their education and careers.
After Ms. Maxwell befriended girls and established a rapport with them, she would “normalize sexual abuse” by undressing in front of them or talking about sexual topics, the indictment said.
When Mr. Epstein offered to pay for travel and educational opportunities for some of the girls, Ms. Maxwell encouraged them to accept his assistance, prosecutors said.
Mr. Epstein would then abuse the girls in his residences and other locations in New York, New Mexico, Florida and London, according to the indictment.
Ms. Maxwell would also sometimes be present when Mr. Epstein sexually abused girls, which “helped put the victims at ease because an adult woman was present,” according to the indictment.
In one instance in 1996, the indictment said, Ms. Maxwell gave an underage girl an unsolicited massage in New Mexico while the girl was topless.
The victim, identified as Minor Victim-2, is Annie Farmer, according to a person familiar with her. The allegations from New Mexico match a claim made by Ms. Farmer in an account given last year to The New York Times and in a lawsuit she filed against Mr. Epstein’s estate.
Investigators said they corroborated victim accounts with flight records, diary entries, business records and other contemporaneous documents.
Prosecutors also accused Ms. Maxwell of lying under oath during a 2016 deposition in a lawsuit. When Ms. Maxwell was asked whether Mr. Epstein had a scheme to recruit underage girls for sexual massages, she responded: “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” the indictment said.
Last year, federal prosecutors accused Mr. Epstein of paying girls and women to give him massages while they were nude or topless, in encounters that typically included sex acts. That activity was said to have occurred between 2002 and 2005.
Earlier this year, Ms. Maxwell sued Mr. Epstein’s $600 million estate, saying that he had promised to pay her legal fees for any claims from women who accused her of recruiting them for sexual massages. The estate has set up a restitution fund for victims, and at least 70 women have expressed interest.
Ms. Maxwell was born in France and grew up in a mansion in Buckinghamshire, England, where she socialized with aristocrats and royals. She attended Oxford and moved to New York in 1991, around the time that her father, the British publishing magnate Robert Maxwell, bought The Daily News.
Her father died that year after tumbling off a boat in the midst of mounting debt. Ms. Maxwell then moved into a modest apartment on the Upper East Side.
After Ms. Maxwell and Mr. Epstein started dating, she began spending time at his estate in Florida, entertaining prominent visitors from around the world.
In 2000, Ms. Maxwell moved into a townhouse less than 10 blocks from Mr. Epstein’s mansion that was purchased by an anonymous LLC represented by Mr. Epstein’s longtime lawyer.
In a Vanity Fair article a few years later, Mr. Epstein described Ms. Maxwell as his “best friend.” Ms. Maxwell helped manage Mr. Epstein’s properties and introduced him to the celebrities and business executives who would form his social circle.
Questions about the nature of their close relationship, however, emerged over the years.
Mr. Epstein pleaded guilty in 2008 in Florida to state charges of soliciting prostitution, and a 2009 lawsuit against Mr. Epstein claimed that he and Ms. Maxwell sexually abused one woman, Virginia Giuffre, when she was 16. Ms. Maxwell has denied the claims.
Despite the connection with Mr. Epstein, Ms. Maxwell’s social standing had appeared unscathed for years. In 2013, she stood with Lloyd C. Blankfein, then the chief executive of Goldman Sachs, at an event supporting marriage equality and was pictured alongside Michael R. Bloomberg, then the mayor of New York, at a book party.
But Ms. Giuffre filed a defamation suit against her in 2015, and Ms. Maxwell disappeared from the New York party circuit.
After Mr. Epstein’s arrest, she stopped appearing in public entirely.
Matthew Goldstein and James B. Stewart contributed reporting. Kitty Bennett contributed research.