Jeffery Epstein Associate Ghislaine Maxwell Arrested Almost 11 Months After His Death in Prison

Ghislaine Maxwell, a close confidant of Jeffrey Epstein, has been arrested, the FBI told Newsweek Thursday. Her arrest comes nearly a year after the financier was found dead inside a jail cell in New York City.

At the time of his death, which the city's medical examiner ruled a suicide by hanging, Epstein was facing federal sex-trafficking charges. He had been accused of bringing girls as young as 14 into his homes and sexually abusing them.

Maxwell, the British heiress to the publishing empire created by her father, Robert, has been repeatedly accused of helping gather young women and girls for Epstein. She has denied all of the allegations against her and Epstein.

According to the FBI, Maxwell was arrested Thursday morning in Bradford, New Hampshire, on criminal charges in connection with the federal sex-trafficking charges Epstein faced. She was expected to appear in court before a magistrate judge in New Hampshire on Thursday afternoon, the acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, Audrey Strauss, said.

An indictment obtained by the Associated Press that was filed in New York City listed six counts against Maxwell. The counts included encouraging underage girls to travel for the purpose of performing illegal sex acts, transporting minors for those purposes, conspiracy to carry out those plans and perjury. Most of the charges Maxwell faces stem from a period between 1994 and 1997, although she allegedly perjured herself on two occasions in 2016, the indictment said.

"This case against Ghislaine Maxwell is the prequel to the earlier case that we brought against Jeffrey Epstein," Strauss said, referring to Epstein's arrest last year.

The document accused Maxwell of befriending young girls to make them feel comfortable and grooming them to perform sexual acts once she had their trust.

"Maxwell's presence during minor victims' interactions with Epstein, including interactions where the minor victim was undressed or that involved sex acts with Epstein, helped put the victims at ease because an adult woman was present," the indictment alleged.

The indictment listed four residences at which the alleged incidents occurred, in four cities that belonged to either Maxwell or Epstein, including Epstein's mansion on Manhattan's Upper East Side. Both Maxwell and Epstein knew some of the young women were under 18, the indictment alleged.

Although this is the first time Maxwell has been charged in connection with the charges Epstein faced, the financier was registered as a sex offender in 2008 after pleading guilty to two state charges involving underage prostitution. As the #MeToo movement gained momentum over the past few years, calls rose for additional charges to be brought against Epstein and his associates, until July 6, 2019, when he was taken into custody in New York. In the wake of his death, victims and others have continued to demand investigations into Epstein associates like Maxwell.

Earlier this year, Maxwell took steps to sue Epstein's estate in anticipation of the rising legal costs she might soon face.

"She absolutely denies that she participated in this or any other sexual abuse or trafficking or assault, and no court, judge or jury has ever determined that she has," her attorney, Laura Menninger, said in a court letter in May.

During a news conference Thursday, Strauss and William Sweeney Jr., the assistant director in charge of the FBI's New York office, said Maxwell's arrest was the result of an investigation into Epstein and his associates that remains ongoing.

"Maxwell was among Epstein's closest associates and helped him exploit girls who were as young as 14 years old," Strauss said. "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.

"Today, after many years, Ghislaine Maxwell finally stands charged for her role in these crimes," Strauss said.

This story has been updated with additional information and background and confirmation of Maxwell's arrest by the FBI.

Ghislaine Maxwell attends the ETM 2014 Children's Benefit Gala at Capitale on May 6, 2014, in New York City. On Thursday, she was arrested on criminal charges in connection with the federal sex-trafficking charges that financier Jeffrey Epstein faced before his suicide in August 2019. Paul Zimmerman/Getty