Ghislaine Maxwell, Former Jeffrey Epstein Companion, Arrested by FBI
Ghislaine Maxwell has been accused by multiple women of recruiting them when they were underage and grooming them for sex with Epstein and other powerful men
A statement posted to Twitter from the U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York states Maxwell is charged "for her role in the sexual exploitation and abuse of multiple minor girls by Jeffrey Epstein."
She was arrested Thursday morning by the FBI in Bedford, New Hampshire, and will appear in federal court in New Hampshire Thursday afternoon, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in New York City tells PEOPLE.
Maxwell, a British socialite and heiress, has been accused by multiple women of recruiting them when they were underage and grooming them for sex with the financier Epstein and other powerful men.
Charges against Maxwell, who is Epstein's former girlfriend, include conspiracy to entice minors to engage in illegal sex acts, conspiracy to entice minors to engage in illegal sex acts, transportation of a minor to engage in illegal sex acts and perjury.
The indictment against Maxwell, which was obtained by PEOPLE, alleges she "enticed and groomed multiple minor girls to engage in sex acts with Jeffrey Epstein, through a variety of means and methods."
Detailing three instances between 1994 and 1997, the indictment alleges Maxwell would attempt to befriend the minors.
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“Having developed a rapport with a victim, Maxwell would try to normalize sexual abuse for a minor victim by, among other things, discussing sexual topics, undressing in front of the victim, being present when a minor victim was undressed, and/or being present for sex acts involving the minor victim and Epstein,” the indictment states, adding that Maxwell allegedly sometimes participated in the sex abuse herself.
Maxwell has long denied wrongdoing.
Jeffrey S. Pagliuca, who has served as Maxwell's lawyer, did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.
FBI New York Assistant Director in Charge Bill Sweeney said at Thursday's press conference that authorities "had been discretely keeping tabs on Maxwell's whereabouts, and recently we learned she had slithered away to a gorgeous property in New Hampshire, continuing to live a life of privilege while her victims live with the trauma inflicted upon them years ago."
Sweeney said Maxwell was arrested without incident.
Maxwell’s arrest comes almost exactly a year after Epstein, a registered sex offender, was arrested on sex crimes charges accusing him of abusing dozens of underage girls. In August 2019, Epstein died by suicide while in jail.
If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual abuse, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.