Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged “madam” Ghislaine Maxwell could be locked up in the same jail where the disgraced billionaire killed himself.
On Thursday, Maxwell, 58, faced a New York City judge remotely after prosecutors accused her of building a rapport with girls as young as 14 before allegedly helping Epstein to sexually exploit them.
Earlier, she was arrested in New Hampshire for allegedly luring girls as young as 14 years old to a number of Epstein’s residences – including his mansions in New York City and Florida.
Prosecutors said investigators found her “hiding” on a 156-acre property she bought in cash back in December 2019.
Maxwell and her attorney Lawrence Vogelman faced the Concord courtroom via video link shortly after 3.30 pm for 20-minutes, after agreeing to a remote hearing.
Magistrate Judge Andrea Johnstone told Maxwell she would be temporarily detained and “transported to the charging district” – the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) – where hearings would begin accordingly.
She will either be held overnight in a local jail or transported immediately back to the Big Apple unless the New Hampshire judge there releases her on bail.
If she’s brought to New York, she would be transferred to either the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in Lower Manhattan or the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, Bloomberg reported, citing legal experts.
The MCC is where Epstein was found hanging in his cell ahead of his sex-trafficking trial after being charged with the sex trafficking of minors.
Ms Maxwell, 58, lived with Epstein for years and was his former girlfriend. 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.
Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Audrey Strauss, said Ms Maxwell’s arrest came after she allegedly helped Jeffrey Epstein sexually assault and abuse multiple minor girls from 1994 to 1997.
“You will recall that the indictment against Jeffrey Epstein charged Epstein with sexual abuse from 2002 through 2005,” she said in a press conference on Thursday. “This case against Ghislaine Maxwell is the prequel to the earlier case.”
“Starting in 1994 until at least 1997, Maxwell had a personal and professional relationship with Jeffrey Epstein. Maxwell was among Epstein’s closest associates and helped him exploit girls who were as young as 14 years old.”
“Maxwell played a critical role in helping Epstein to identify, befriend and groom minor victims for abuse,” she said adding that Ms Maxwell also particpated in the abuse in some cases.
Ms Strauss described how the pair had a “method” in which “typically” Ms Maxwell would befriend young women by taking them to the movies and shopping, encouraging them to accept Epstein’s offers of travel.
“After developing a rapport with the victims Maxwell then tried to normalise sexual abuse with a minor victim through a process known as grooming.”
She alleged Ms Maxwell would discuss sexual topics with the women and undress in front of them, helping to put them at ease and leaving them “susceptible to sexual abuse”. This abuse included sexualised massages and sexual encounters which she “sometimes participated in” Ms Strauss said.
Ms Strauss said the couple “worked together” to entice victims to travel to Epstein’s homes in New York city, Santa Fe, New Mexico and Palm Beach, Florida. Some of the abuse is also alleged to have taken place at Maxwell’s home in London.
Prince Andrew has previously spoken about his fondness for Ms Maxwell, saying he had been introduced to Epstein by her.
He said Epstein attended a lavish Windsor ball, the Dance of the Decades, which celebrated four royal birthday’s as Ms Maxwell’s “plus one”.
He also shocked the world by giving an interview to Newsnight in which he described Epstein’s conduct as “unbecoming”. When host Emily Maitlis pointed out he was a “sex offender”, Prince Andrew later condemned his actions but was forced to step back from royal duties following backlash over his comments.
US prosecutors want to speak to the prince about his relationship with Epstein but have accused him of being uncooperative.
His legal team have denied this and blamed US agencies for leaking information to the media and undermining trust in the process.