Ghislaine Maxwell charged with six counts in Epstein sex abuse case
British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell was charged Thursday with six counts relating to the sexual abuse and trafficking of minors in the case of late disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein.
An indictment filed in a New York court showed that the charges include conspiracy to entice minors to travel in order to engage in illegal sex acts, transportation of minors for criminal sexual activity and perjury.
Maxwell, whose whereabouts had been unknown following Epstein’s suicide while awaiting trial last summer, was arrested by FBI officers in New Hampshire on Thursday morning.
Epstein hanged himself in a New York cell in August last year while awaiting trial on charges of trafficking minors for sex and US prosecutors are investigating whether he had any accomplices.
Prince Andrew has provided “zero cooperation” regarding late sex offender Jeffrey Epstein and has yet to respond to an FBI request for an interview, a US prosecutor said Monday.
Andrew denies claims he had sex with a 17-year-old girl procured by Epstein and said in November he was “willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations if required.”
But New York attorney Geoffrey Berman, who is leading an investigation into possible co-conspirators of Epstein’s, said his office and the FBI had not heard from Andrew despite his offer to cooperate.
“To date, Prince Andrew has provided zero cooperation,” Berman told reporters during a news conference outside Epstein’s former New York home where Andrew has admitted staying at in the past.
Buckingham Palace did not immediately respond to request for comment when contacted by AFP.
Queen Elizabeth II’s second son, 59, was forced to step back from royal duties after he faced outrage over an interview with the BBC late last year in which he defended his friendship with disgraced US financier Epstein.
Epstein, 66 committed suicide in a New York jail last summer while awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges.
He was a multi-millionaire hedge fund manager who befriended countless celebrities over the years, including US President Donald Trump.
Epstein was charged with one count of sex trafficking of minors and another of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of minors.
He denied the charges but was facing up to 45 years in jail if found guilty. His death also deprived countless alleged victims of justice.
Dozens of women who say they were abused by Epstein have sued his estate and prosecutors have pledged to pursue any accomplices.
“Jeffrey Epstein couldn’t have done what he did without the assistance of others and I can assure you that our investigation is moving forward,” Berman said Monday.
Epstein’s death fueled several conspiracy theories, mostly speculating that he was murdered to stop him revealing compromising information about some of his wealthy acquaintances.
Epstein was convicted in Florida in 2008 of paying young girls for massages but served just 13 months in jail under a secret plea deal struck with the then state prosecutor.
Prince Andrew was urged Thursday to speak to lawyers representing victims of paedophile Jeffrey Epstein, after the royal announced he was quitting public life because of the scandal.
Queen Elizabeth II’s second son, 59, has faced days of outrage since a television interview in which he defended his friendship with the disgraced US financier.
Andrew denies claims he had sex with a 17-year-old girl procured by Epstein, who was found dead in a New York prison in August while awaiting charges of trafficking minors.
As a growing number of organisations distanced themselves from the royal and his pet projects, he said he was cancelling public engagements because of the backlash.
He said he was “willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations, if required”.
US lawyer Lisa Bloom, who represents five women allegedly assaulted by Epstein, told the BBC the royal should speak to everyone probing the allegations — including her.
“All of the staff who work for Prince Andrew should come and give information and evidence and the documents should be turned over — emails, texts, calendars, phone logs, travel logs — so we can get to the bottom of this,” she said.
She did not rule out approaching the prince directly to secure a sworn statement.
Later, lawyer Gloria Allred, who also represents alleged victims and is Bloom’s mother, urged Andrew to speak to investigators “without delay.”
“The best way for him to begin to repair his damaged reputation would be to sit for an interview as soon as possible,” she told reporters in New York.
‘Much Worse To Come’?
Andrew’s announcement, which he said was approved by his mother and in which he belatedly expressed sympathy for Epstein’s victims, dominated British media for a fifth day.
Several newspapers said the former Royal Navy officer’s reputation was in tatters and speculated about whether he could ever return to formal royal duties.
Tabloid daily The Sun called the statement “a desperate attempt to fix the appalling failures of his TV interview over the Epstein scandal”.
“But if Andrew thinks this will draw a line under it all, he is delusional. His woes, we fear are just beginning,” it added in an editorial.
The Daily Mail said the claims, which have long cast a shadow over his duties, including as a special government trade representative, could do “serious damage” to the royal family.
“As it unravels, there may be much worse to come,” it added.
Andrew’s decision to step down was taken after “crisis talks” between the monarch herself and her eldest son and heir, Prince Charles, several newspapers reported.
But as well as potentially having to be quizzed by US investigators, some cast doubt on some of Andrew’s claims.
They include that he had stayed at the residence of Britain’s consul-general to New York on one of the three occasions when he had allegedly had sex with his accuser.
Another is whether he actually met Epstein several years earlier than he claimed.
The Epstein affair shows no sign of going away, as the BBC is expected to air more revelations from one of his victims in the coming days.
The scandal tops a torrid year for the royal family marked by strained relations with the media and an apparent lack of direction in terms of control of its public image.
In October, Andrew’s nephew Prince Harry was criticised for giving an interview in which he complained about media coverage of his wife, Meghan.
He then announced legal action against several tabloids for breach of privacy and phone-hacking, setting up a potentially explosive court confrontation.
The queen, now 93, described 1992 as her “annus horribilis” after heir to the throne Charles and Andrew separated from their respective wives, and her only daughter, Anne, got divorced.
Her favourite Windsor Castle residence was also partially destroyed by fire.
Commentators said the latest scandal could see a repeat, and that the withdrawal of a senior royal from public life had no precedent since king Edward VIII’s abdication in 1936.
French investigators searched disgraced US financier Jeffrey Epstein’s luxury Paris apartment on Tuesday, deepening a probe into allegations that the sex offender procured young women to abuse in France.
Epstein, who was arrested in New York in July on charges of trafficking underage girls for sex, was found hanged in his New York jail cell on August 10 while awaiting trial over abuses involving girls at his Palm Beach home and on his private island in the Caribbean.
But his ownership of an apartment in the heart of upmarket Paris and allegations from women who say they were abused in France prompted French prosecutors to open their own criminal probe last month.
Epstein’s flat on Avenue Foch near the Champs-Elysees — one of the world’s most exclusive addresses — was scoured for evidence from Monday afternoon to the early morning hours of Tuesday, a source close to the probe told AFP.
A week earlier, investigators searched the nearby headquarters of Karin Models, an agency founded in 1978 by Epstein associate Jean-Luc Brunel, himself accused in American court documents of rape and of procuring young girls for his friend.
Epstein, who at one time counted Bill Clinton, Donald Trump and Britain’s Prince Andrew among his friends, was accused of recruiting teenagers to administer massages which frequently led to abuse and even rape.
‘Sex slave’ –
Last month, the investigation officially spilled over from the US to France when the Paris prosecutor’s office opened its own inquiry into claims of rape and sex abuse, including of minors.
The investigation focuses on potential crimes committed against French victims in France as well as abroad, and on suspects who are French citizens, the Paris prosecutor said.
Three women in France have come forward, including a former Dutch model who says she was drugged and raped by Brunel at a Paris flat in the early 1990s.
In a letter to the chief Paris prosecutor seen by AFP, the former Dutch model, now 46, says she was drugged and raped by Brunel at a Paris flat — situated on the prestigious Avenue Hoche — when she was just above the age of consent.
In the US, Virginia Giuffre filed a suit accusing Epstein of using her as a “sex slave”, in which she also said she had been forced to sleep with well-known politicians and businessmen, including Brunel.
Giuffre alleged Brunel, who specialised in scouting models and was a hugely influential figure in the industry, would bring girls as young as 12 to the United States and pass them on to his friends, including Epstein.
Brunel in 2015 issued a rare statement in which he vehemently denied involvement, “directly or indirectly” in any crimes by Epstein, with whom he fell out in later years.
Long before the Epstein scandal broke, Brunel was accused of rape by several models in a 1988 CBS documentary.
Brunel, now in his 70s, has made no public comment on the latest allegations. He was spotted at a high-society function at the beginning of July but has not been seen since.
He began his career as a model scout who in 1978 was involved in setting up the prestigious Karin Models agency. He then moved to the United States where he co-founded the Miami-based agency MC2.
Epstein pled guilty in 2008 to procuring for prostitution a girl under the age of 18, and served 13 months in prison before being released on probation.
A former model has accused a modelling agent close to US sex crimes suspect Jeffrey Epstein of raping her in 1990, as France pursues its own investigation into alleged offences on its territory.
In a letter sent to Paris Prosecutor Remi Heitz seen by AFP on Saturday, a 46-year-old Dutch woman says Jean-Luc Brunel drugged and raped her at his Paris appartment in the early 1990s, shortly after she turned 18.
French prosecutors opened an inquiry last month into suspected sex trafficking and alleged cases of rape and sexual abuse of women, including minors.
Brunel has emerged as a key figure in the scandal surrounding the US billionaire, who committed suicide in a New York jail last month.
Brunel has been accused in court documents of rape and of procuring young girls for Epstein, charges he has denied in the past.
But since Epstein’s arrest in July — just as he returned from a trip to Paris — Brunel, formerly a high-power model scout, has not been heard from publicly.
In her letter, the former Dutch model said several girls lived in Brunel’s apartment near the Champs-Elysees, where every day “rich businessmen were accompanied by very young girls.”
“The events are beyond the statute of limitations, and my client knows this will not lead to charges against Mr Brunel,” the woman’s lawyer, Anne-Claire Le Jeune, told AFP.
“But she wanted to testify anyway, to help the inquiry move forward,” she said.
It is also investigating claims that Epstein and others participated for years in a vast child sex-trafficking ring.
A French advocacy group for child sex abuse victims, Innocence En Danger (Innocence at Risk), has said 10 people had offered witness statements alleging sex crimes committed against minors in France.
According to the Parisian newspaper, Paris police last week questioned two other women who said they had been sexually assaulted by Brunel. These alleged offences happened too long ago for prosecution.
Four years ago, Brunel was accused in a civil lawsuit of rape and procuring young girls for the US financier.
Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who filed the suit, accused Epstein of using her as a “sex slave”. She said she had been forced to have sex with well-known politicians and businessmen, including Brunel.
She also alleged that Brunel would bring girls as young as 12 to the United States and pass them on to his friends, including Epstein. Brunel fiercely denied the allegations.
Britain’s Prince Andrew insisted on Saturday that “at no stage” during his friendship with convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein did he “witness… any behaviour of the sort that subsequently led to his arrest”.
The prince, Queen Elizabeth II’s second son, is under heavy fire over his relationship with the disgraced US financier, and admitted in a statement on Saturday that “it was a mistake and an error to see him after his release in 2010”.
“At no stage during the limited time I spent with him did I see, witness or suspect any behaviour of the sort that subsequently led to his arrest and conviction.”
Epstein was found dead in his cell earlier this month, and the prince was once more drawn into the story after a video was released purporting to show him at the criminal’s home in 2010.
Epstein had pleaded guilty in 2008 to procuring for prostitution a girl under the age of 18 and served 13 months in prison before being released on probation.
“I was mistaken to think that what I thought I knew of him was evidently not the real person, given what we now know,” said Andrew.
“This is a difficult time for everyone involved and I am at a loss to be able to understand or explain Mr Epstein’s lifestyle,” he added.
The video was the latest in a string of revelations about Prince Andrew’s friendship with Epstein in British tabloids.
The Mail on Monday said the prince had hosted Epstein at Balmoral, Queen Elizabeth II’s home in Scotland, in 1999 at a time when the monarch may have been in residence.
He also reportedly hosted Epstein at Sandringham, another royal residence in eastern England, a year later.
Epstein died in a federal jail in Manhattan on August 10 as he awaited trial charged with one count of sex trafficking of minors and one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of minors.
A coroner ruled that he committed suicide by hanging.
Over the years, the financier hobnobbed with politicians, socialites and celebrities, including Donald Trump before he was president, and Bill Clinton.
Virginia Giuffre — previously Virginia Roberts — one of Epstein’s alleged victims, has testified that she was forced to have sex with Prince Andrew in London when she was 17. She said she had sex with him again in New York and on Epstein’s private island in the Caribbean.
But the allegations were struck from the record by a US judge in 2015, who said the “lurid details” were not needed to decide a civil case concerning Epstein.
Buckingham Palace has repeatedly and strenuously denied the claims, calling them “false and without foundation”.
The prince said he deplored “the exploitation of any human being and would not condone, participate in, or encourage any such behaviour.”
US Attorney General Bill Barr announced the replacement of the head of federal prisons Monday in the wake of the shock jail-cell suicide of as he faced child sex trafficking charges.
Barr said he was appointing Kathleen Hawk Sawyer as director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, replacing Hugh Hurwitz who served as acting director for the past 15 months.
Hawk Sawyer, a veteran prison psychologist, has served as the director of the bureau before: she was appointed to the position in 1992 by Barr, who was attorney general at the time, and held the job until 2003.
Her appointment comes nine days after Epstein, a financier who circulated in powerful political circles, killed himself in the New York Metropolitan Correctional Center while he was supposedly under close monitoring following an earlier suicide attempt.
Epstein, 66, had been charged with sex trafficking of minors, a case that grew out of reports that he had been treated extremely lightly when he was arrested in Florida in 2006 for sex acts with underage girls.
In that case, he ultimately pleaded guilty to a state charge of soliciting prostitution with a minor and was sentenced to 18 months in jail — most of which was spent outside the prison on a work-release program.
His suicide on August 10 sparked outrage that he was again escaping justice, and his friendships over the years with influential people such as President Donald Trump and former president Bill Clinton fueled numerous conspiracy theories.
But a New York coroner ruled that Epstein hung himself in his cell.
Citing “serious irregularities,” Barr quickly reassigned the warden of the New York prison and two guards were placed on leave.
It was the second high-profile prison death in the federal system in one year.
In October 2018, notorious Boston gangster James “Whitey” Bulger was beaten to death at a prison in West Virginia, one day after he was transferred to the high-security facility to serve the remainder of his life sentence.
An alleged victim of paedophile financier Jeffrey Epstein sued for damages Wednesday as reports claimed his guards were asleep before the disgraced tycoon died from an apparent suicide in prison.
Two employees of the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York failed to check on Epstein for three hours and then falsified prison logs to cover up their error, the New York Times reported.
The staff members were meant to be inspecting Epstein’s cell every 30 minutes but dozed off, several unnamed law enforcement and prison officials familiar with the matter told the newspaper.
The revelations came a day after the warden of the high-security facility was temporarily reassigned and two guards put on administrative leave by the Bureau of Prisons, pending an investigation.
Epstein, 66, was found dead in his cell on Saturday morning. The FBI and Justice Department are probing how he managed to apparently take his own life just weeks after an earlier reported suicide attempt.
US newspapers reported that he had apparently been taken off suicide watch and left without a cellmate, against protocol, while the guards were working overtime due to major staff shortages at the jail.
The multi-millionaire, who hobnobbed with numerous politicians and celebrities over the years, was awaiting trial charged with one count of sex trafficking of minors and one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of minors.
His death came a day after a court released documents in which one of his alleged victims said Epstein used her as a “sex slave” and that she was forced to have sex with well-known politicians and businessmen.
Another woman, who says she was raped by Epstein as a teenager, sued his estate and former girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell under a New York law that came into effect on Wednesday.
Jennifer Araoz wrote a column in the New York Times saying she was filing a lawsuit under the Child Victims Act against Epstein, British-born socialite Maxwell and other accomplices.
Maxwell’s recent whereabouts had been unknown but Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper reported Wednesday that she had been living in a mansion in Manchester-by-the-sea in Massachusetts.
Araoz, now 32, filed the lawsuit in a state court in Manhattan, according to US media. The New York Post said the accomplices were three unidentified women.
“I’m angry he won’t have to personally answer to me in the court of law. But my quest for justice is just getting started,” she wrote in the New York Times.
The new law extends the statute of limitations for victims of childhood sex abuse and is expected to trigger a wave of cases against Epstein and accused abusers in separate cases.
Even though Epstein’s death ended his criminal prosecution, US Attorney General Bill Barr has said prosecutors would pursue cases against anyone else involved in his alleged crimes.
FBI agents raided Epstein’s private Caribbean island on Little St. James in the US Virgin Islands on Monday.
According to prosecutors he sexually exploited dozens of underage teens, some as young as 14, at his homes in Manhattan and Palm Beach, Florida, between 2002 and 2005.
He denied the charges but faced up to 45 years in jail if found guilty.
Epstein was convicted in Florida in 2008 of paying young girls for massages but served just 13 months in jail under a secret plea deal struck with the then state prosecutor.
The warden of the New York prison where convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein apparently committed suicide has been temporarily reassigned and two guards put on leave, the Justice Department said Tuesday.
Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said the two guards placed on administrative leave by the Bureau of Prisons had been assigned to Epstein’s unit at the Metropolitan Correction Center.
“Additional actions may be taken as the circumstances warrant,” Kupec said in a statement.
Epstein, 66, was found dead in his cell on Saturday morning and US authorities have pledged to conduct a full investigation into his death, which has been classified as an apparent suicide.
The multi-millionaire, who hobnobbed with numerous politicians and celebrities over the years, was awaiting trial on federal charges he trafficked underage girls for sex.
Two French government ministers called Monday for an investigation into the alleged child sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein saying a US inquiry had exposed links between the disgraced financier and France.
Epstein, whose suicide in jail over the weekend has outraged his alleged victims, owned an apartment near the Arc de Triomphe in Paris and had been in the city just before his arrest in New York last month.
“The American investigation has turned up links with France,” Equality Minister Marlene Schiappa said in a joint statement with French child welfare minister Adrien Taquet.
They did not provide details of the alleged links, though a source in Schiappa’s office referred to numerous trips by Epstein to France.
“Epstein’s death must not deprive his victims of justice,” the ministers said.
Their call drew a rebuke from French Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet, who said in a message sent to AFP that it was not up to the government to decide whether to investigate Epstein’s activities in France.
“(Legal) proceedings are not decided on by the government,” she said, noting that since 2013 it is forbidden in France for a justice minister to give prosecutors instructions relating to individual investigations.
Alleged French victims
A French advocacy group for child sex abuse victims, Innocence En Danger (Youths at Risk), has also asked French prosecutors to open an inquiry.
Citing a “trustworthy source”, it said, “several victims of the prostitution network created by Jeffrey Epstein and his accomplices were French citizens”.
“For the moment we haven’t had a response from the prosecutor’s office,” Homayra Sellier, the group’s president, told AFP on Monday.
Epstein, 66, was accused of raping and sexually exploiting dozens of young girls for years, and of also providing teenage victims for friends and acquaintances.
According to US media reports, he kept a “little black book” with the names of over 100 “recruits” from areas where he had residences, including New York and Palm Beach, Florida, as well as Paris.
Prosecutors believe he orchestrated a network of students who were lined up by other young women and then forced to satisfy the hedge fund billionaire’s wishes.
He was facing charges of sex trafficking of minors and of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of minors, which would have carried a maximum of 45 years in prison.
Epstein had pleaded not guilty, but his request for bail had been refused.