Will authorities be able to keep Maxwell alive long enough to face justice?
As Ghislaine Maxwell is allegedly a female who preyed on other females, it is perhaps poetic justice that she was arrested Thursday morning at the behest of acting US Attorney Audrey Strauss.
Strauss has only held New York’s southern district for 12 days. Her predecessor, US Attorney Geoffrey Berman, was removed by Trump.
Berman oversaw the investigation into convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, who died in jail by hanging, while facing federal sex trafficking charges. Maxwell’s case will be handled by Strauss.
In the wake of Ghislaine Maxwell’s unexpected FBI arrest Thursday morning, the Justice Department unsealed six criminal charges Jeffrey Epstein’s former confidante and ex-girlfriend is facing.
The infamous socialite is the daughter of late British media mogul Robert Maxwell, who died mysteriously in 1991 when he fell from his yacht. She is said to have introduced Epstein to many of her family’s extremely wealthy and powerful friends.
Jeffrey Epstein was arrested last year in New York on charges that he was operating a sex trafficking ring exploiting underage girls. Before he could face trail, Epstein was found hanging in his cell.
A U.S. medical examiner officially ruled Epstein’s death a suicide, but a pathologist hired by Epstein’s brother suggested evidence indicated he might have been strangled.
The death of Jeffrey Epstein raised questions and conspiracies due to several inconsistencies surrounding his death in jail. The surveillance footage of Epstein’s prison cell was deleted as a result of technical errors and the two guards on duty at the time both coincidentally, “repeatedly failed to conduct mandated checks on inmates, and lied on official forms to hide their dereliction,” according to former US Attorney Geoffrey Berman.
Senator Ted Cruz, (R-TX), tweeted on Friday, “Given the shocking govt negligence that allowed Jeffrey Epstein to “hang himself,” DOJ MUST ensure that doesn’t happen to Maxwell. Were she to die in custody-for any reason- it would be a HUGE blow to our justice system. The victims deserve justice.”
The Case Against Ghislaine Maxwell
Maxwell faces two counts of Conspiracy to Entice Minors to Travel to Engage in Illegal Sex Acts; two counts of Conspiracy to Transport Minors with Intent to Engage in Criminal Sexual Activity; and two counts of Perjury.
Five of the six charges carry a sentence of 5-years and the sixth is punishable by up to 10-years in prison.
Prosecutors allege in the indictment that Maxwell “assisted, facilitated, and contributed to Jeffrey Epstein’s abuse of minor girls by, among other things, helping Epstein to recruit, groom and ultimately abuse victims known to Maxwell and Epstein to be under the age of 18”.
Maxwell allegedly built up a relationship with the minors, befriending them by inquiring about their families and treating them to shopping trips and movies. She would later lure them into private meetings with Epstein. It was during these private meetings that much of the sexual abuse is alleged to have occurred.
“Maxwell played a critical role in helping Epstein to identify, befriend and groom minor victims for abuse,” said Audrey Strauss, acting US attorney for the southern district of New York.
“Maxwell and Epstein worked together to entice these minor victims to travel to Epstein’s residences — 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.”
The perjury counts relate to depositions Maxwell gave on Apr 22 and Jul 22, 2016 to a New York court. The indictment alleges she “repeatedly lied when questioned about her conduct, including in relation to some of the minor victims.”
“Maxwell lied because the truth, as alleged, was almost unspeakable,” said Strauss.
In addition to connecting Epstein to young girls, Maxwell also connected Epstien and her victims to her social circle, which went all the way to the top of high society.
The Telegraph reported that Maxwell allegedly introduced Epstein to the Duke of York in 1999. Acting US attorney Strauss made it clear the Duke is a prioritized person of interest, when she said “we would welcome Prince Andrew’s statement.”
Prince Andrew Implicated
Will he cooperate?
In an interview with the BBC in 2019, Prince Andrew said he would testify under oath about Epstein. The Duke’s lawyers have previously rejected claims that he has not cooperated with U.S. authorities in the months since.
Prince Andrew’s lawyers claim he has offered to help on three occasions.
US Attorney Geoffrey Berman said Prince Andrew “has not given an interview to federal authorities, has repeatedly declined our request to schedule such an interview, and nearly four months ago informed us unequivocally — through the very same counsel who issued today’s release — that he would not come in for such an interview”.
When asked about Prince Andrew on Thursday, acting Attorney Strauss said: “I am not going to comment on anyone’s status in this investigation but I will say that we would welcome Prince Andrew coming in to talk with us, we would like to have the benefit of his statement.”
Virginia Giuffre, one of convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein’s accusers, has raised questions over Prince Andrew’s involvement with Epstein’s crimes, claiming she was introduced to Andrew at Maxwell’s home in 2001 and was instructed by Maxwell “to do for Andrew what I do for Jeffrey.”
Giuffre alleges that later in the evening, she had sex with Prince Andrew upstairs at Maxwell’s house in Belgravia. Virginia Giuffre also describes how she asked Jeffrey Epstein to take the below photo with Prince Andrew and Ghislaine Maxwell.
When asked about the photo, the prince said he didn’t recall the photograph ever being taken and questioned whether it was his hand in the picture.
Giuffre said “The people on the inside are going to keep coming up with these ridiculous excuses like his arm was elongated or the photo was doctored. I’m calling BS on this. He knows what happened, I know what happened. And there’s only one of us telling the truth.”
Buckingham Palace said “it is emphatically denied that the Duke of York had any form of sexual contact or relationship with Virginia Roberts. Any claim to the contrary is false and without foundation.”
US prosecutors and investigators have adamantly voiced their intent to speak with the Duke of York, who stepped away from his royal duties last year after the disastrous interview that failed to put pay to speculations about his long-term and close relationship with Epstein.
With the recent arrest of Ghislaine Maxwell, and if Prince Andrew is truly willing to help US prosecutors and provide a statement on the Epstein investigation like his lawyers claim, we expect to hear more on this investigation soon, and more prominent names involved.
(Contributing journalist, Allegra Nokaj) (Contributing writer, Brooke Bell)