Ghislaine Maxwell: From Socialite To Jeffrey Epstein’s Alleged Co-Conspirator
“Her victims live with the trauma inflicted upon them years ago,” an FBI official says.
AP Photo/John Minchillo, File
In this July 2, 2020, file photo, Audrey Strauss, acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, points to a photo of Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell during a news conference in New York.
Ghislaine Maxwell is facing decades behind bars for the role she allegedly played in procuring underage girls for her ex-boyfriend, the late convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein — accusations she has denied. Maxwell’s trial began on November 29. Here is a timeline detailing the 59-year-old British socialite’s association with Epstein through the years as well as the events leading up to her trial over a quarter century after the two first met.
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Dec. 29, 2021 – Jan. 5, 2022
After five days of jury deliberations, Maxwell was found guilty on Dec. 29 of five of six counts related to the role she played in conspiring with Epstein to traffic and sexually abuse underage girls. She was acquitted of enticing a minor to travel across state lines to engage in an illegal sexual act.
“The road to justice has been far too long. But, today, justice has been done,” Damian Williams, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement. “I want to commend the bravery of the girls — now grown women — who stepped out of the shadows and into the courtroom.”
Maxwell faces up to 65 years behind bars when she is sentenced.
In a potential complication in the case, on Jan. 5, the disgraced British socialite’s legal team wrote in a letter to U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan that there were “incontrovertible grounds” for their client to receive a new trial after one of the 18 selected jurors recently claimed he was a sexual abuse survivor, Reuters reported.
According to the outlet, Maxwell’s lawyers must formally request a new trial before Jan. 19. Prosecutors have until Feb. 2 to respond.
Possibly further complicating the matter, The New York Times has reported that a second juror, who wished to remain anonymous, described in an interview being sexually abused as a child.
Maxwell has an upcoming still-unscheduled separate trial in connection to two perjury counts for allegedly making false statements during a deposition concerning Epstein for a civil case.
Dec. 13 - Dec. 17, 2021
The defense opened its case on Dec. 16, and a family spokesperson told The Telegraph that it’s “unlikely” Maxwell will take the stand because she is “too fragile.”
The judge denied the “unprecedented request” Maxwell’s team made for some defense witnesses to be allowed to remain anonymous in order to make them more comfortable testifying in court.
Cimberly Espinosa, the first witness the defendant’s lawyers called to the stand, testified that while working as Maxwell’s executive assistant in New York between around 1996 and 2002 she “never” saw her boss or Epstein act inappropriately with minors, The New York Times reported. “I highly respected her and looked up to her very much, and I learned a lot from her,” Espinosa said, adding Maxwell “treated me fair, and it was fun.”
An expert for the defense, Elizabeth Loftus, a professor at the University of California, Irvine, gave testimony about false memories and how they are formed in what appeared to be an attempt to cast doubt on Maxwell’s accusers. “One thing we know about memory is that it doesn’t work like a recording device,” she explained.
On Dec. 17, day 12 of the trial, Maxwell’s lawyers requested more time to locate witnesses because their “client’s life is on the line.” In response, Judge Alison Nathan refused to delay the case, saying, “I have a rule: You have your next witness or you rest.” According to The Independent, of the 35 witnesses the defense had planned to call to the stand, only a fraction of them actually will.
Maxwell's defense team rested its case after she declined to testify at the sex trafficking conspiracy trial, the Associated Press reported.
Dec. 6 – Dec. 10, 2021
Annie Farmer, the fourth accuser in Maxwell’s sex-trafficking trial, took the stand on Dec. 10. She recalled for the court that she was 16 when, during one alleged incident, Maxwell undressed her. “She pulled the sheet down and exposed my breasts and started rubbing on my chest and on my upper breasts,” Farmer claimed, according to The New York Times. “I was surprised. I wanted so badly to get off of the [massage] table.” Farmer, now 42, said she first met Epstein as an Arizona high school student in late 1995 when he flew her to New York City, where her sister worked for him. In spring 1996, Farmer said, he again bought her a plane ticket, this time to visit him at his New Mexico ranch and she met Maxwell for the first time.
On Dec. 9, the judge, Alison J. Nathan, ruled Epstein’s book of contacts that allegedly included the names of girls he used for massages could be introduced at Maxwell’s trial.
On Dec. 7, The New York Post reported that one of Maxwell’s four accusers, only identified on the stand as Carolyn, told the court she was 14 when Maxwell allegedly fondled her breasts and told her she had “a great body for Mr. Epstein and his friends.” Carolyn testified that over the next four years she gave Epstein “over 100” massages at his Palm Beach mansion and “something sexual happened every single time.”
During the week’s proceedings, Maxwell’s lawyers attempted to portray her accusers as focused on making a profit.“[Epstein’s] accusers have shaken the money tree and millions of dollars have fallen their way,” defense attorney Bobbi Sternheim claimed in an opening statement, The New York Times reported. “Ghislaine has been inserted in those stories as they reframed their stories for a payday.”
Nov. 29 - Dec. 3, 2021
In opening statements, Maxwell’s lawyers said prosecutors were making their client into a “scapegoat” following Epstein’s death. Prosecutors countered that Maxwell had helped to create a “pyramid scheme of abuse.”
Testimony in the case began with Larry Visoski, Epstein’s private plane pilot. Visoski recalled meeting one of Epstein’s accusers — identified in court under the pseudonym “Jane,” also referred to as Minor Victim-1 in a federal indictment — but he could not recall ever witnessing sexual activity aboard the aircraft.
When Jane took the stand, she told the court she first met Maxwell and Epstein at age 14 in 1994 at a camp where he was a benefactor. She and her mother then met Epstein on a separate occasion and he offered to be the teenager’s mentor. “My mom was so enamored with the idea that these wealthy, affluent people took an interest in me,” she recalled. Jane said she then began going to Epstein’s residence, where Maxwell allegedly befriended her and made her feel special. The situation “changed when the abuse started happening,” she said, claiming Maxwell would sometimes be involved in the alleged abuse, CNN reported. “It seemed very casual, like it was very normal, like it was not big deal,” the witness said of the alleged years-long abuse. “It made me feel confused because that did not feel normal to me.” The witness confirmed to prosecutors that as part of a $5 million settlement with the Epstein Victim Compensation Program she dropped a lawsuit against Maxwell in 2020.
Jane’s former boyfriend, identified in court as “Matt,” testified that Jane had told him about a “godfather” or “uncle” who financially supported her and her family and she said the “money wasn’t f***ing free,” according to CNN. Matt also noted Jane had talked about a woman who was around at the time and later identified her as Maxwell following the defendant’s arrest in 2019.
The house manager of Epstein’s mansion in Palm Beach, Florida, shared details on the stand from an instruction manual of rules Maxwell allegedly gave him to follow around 2001 or 2002. “Remember that you see nothing, hear nothing, say nothing except to answer a question directed at you. Respect their privacy,” Alessi, who worked for Epstein from 1991 through 2002, read from the manual. He called the rules “degrading” and “unbelievable.” Alessi recalled meeting Jane on multiple occasions as well as “many, many, many females” who came to the residence over the years.
November 29, 2021
Maxwell’s jury trial is scheduled to start in the Manhattan courtroom of US District Court Judge Alison J. Nathan. The defendant has been held at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn since authorities took her into custody in summer 2020.
In a superseding indictment, New York prosecutors filed two additional charges against Maxwell — sex trafficking conspiracy and sex trafficking — in connection to a fourth juvenile accuser who was 14 when the alleged crimes started in 2001 and ran through 2004. Maxwell’s previous six charges included conspiring to entice minors to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, and transporting a minor for the purposes of criminal sexual activity for allegedly “helping Epstein to recruit, groom, and ultimately abuse victims known to Maxwell and Epstein to be under the age of 18” between 1994 and 1997, an indictment states. Maxwell’s defense team has said she “vigorously denies the charges, intends to fight them, and is entitled to the presumption of innocence.”
January 27, 2021
Over 100 legal documents were made public detailing Maxwell’s alleged involvement in grooming young girls for Epstein. “Maxwell [directed] a room full of underage girls to kiss, dance, and touch one another in a sexual way for defendant and Epstein to watch,” a witness claimed in the documents, according to the Independent. Another document claims that “ample evidence in this case establishes that not only did [Maxwell] recruit underage girls for massage and sexual activities with Epstein, but that she participated in calling the girls; getting other people to bring girls; talking to the girls; taking massages from and leaving messages about the girls; and scheduling the girls to come over.” Another released document states the defendant said she distanced herself from the billionaire because she “ceased to be happy in the job” and “ceased to be happy spending time with Mr. Epstein.”
July 2, 2020
FBI agents located and arrested Maxwell in the Northeast. “Most recently, the defendant appears to have been hiding on a 156-acre property acquired in an all-cash purchase in December 2019 (through a carefully anonymized LLC) in Bradford, New Hampshire, an area to which she has no other known connections,” a detention memo obtained by ABC News reads. William F. Sweeney Jr., assistant director in charge of the FBI's New York Field Office, said the accused madam had been “continuing to live a life of privilege while her victims live with the trauma inflicted upon them years ago.” Since her arrest, the court has denied Maxwell’s repeated requests for bail, saying she is a flight risk because of her substantial assets.
August 10, 2019
Epstein died by suicide at age 66 in his Manhattan prison cell while awaiting trial for sex trafficking charges. Maxwell later claimed she became a scapegoat for the convicted pedophile after prosecutors needed someone to take the fall and “baselessly caricatured” her “as a villain of near-mythical proportions,” her defense lawyers wrote in court papers. “One does not need to engage in complex analysis to understand what has happened here: the government has sought to substitute our client for Jeffrey Epstein, even if it means stretching — and ultimately exceeding — the bounds of the law,” the lawyers continued. “The government’s sudden zeal to prosecute Ms. Maxwell for alleged conduct with Epstein in the 1990s — conduct for which the government never even charged Epstein — follows a history that is both highly unusual and deeply troubling.”
According to a financial report, Maxwell secretly married 45-year-old tech millionaire Scott Borgerson. She then put around $22.5 million worth of her assets into a trust he controlled.
Epstein accuser Virginia Roberts Giuffre filed a civil lawsuit against Maxwell for defamation, accusing her of calling her a liar. Giuffre had alleged Maxwell introduced her to Epstein under the guise the then-teenager working at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, would be paid to be his part-time masseuse. According to Giuffre, Maxwell played a key role in allegedly procuring her for Epstein, who, she claimed, sexually abused her. Maxwell denied the allegations, but she and Giuffre settled the suit two years later, in 2017. Details of the settlement were never made public. In court papers, Giuffre also alleged she was passed on to Prince Andrew because of her involvement with Epstein, allegations the royal has vehemently denied.
Vicky Ward wrote in a March 2003 Vanity Fair article that Epstein called Maxwell his “best friend” in an interview. The writer noted that although Epstein said Maxwell was not on his payroll, she appeared to be in charge of organizing his life.
Ghislaine and Epstein reportedly met and dated for a time after she relocated from England to New York following the death of her disgraced media mogul father, Robert Maxwell. “In particular, between in or about 1994 and in or about 1997, Maxwell was in an intimate relationship with Epstein and was also paid by Epstein to manage his various properties,” Maxwell’s indictment states.