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Jeffrey Epstein associate Ghislaine Maxwell arrested

FILE - In this Nov. 7, 1991, file photo Ghislaine Maxwell, daughter of late British publisher Robert Maxwell, reads a statement in Spanish in which she expressed her family's gratitude to the Spanish authorities, aboard the "Lady Ghislaine" in Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Maxwell, a British socialite who was accused by many women of helping procure underage sex partners for Jeffrey Epstein, was arrested in New Hampshire, the FBI said Thursday, July 2, 2020. (AP Photo/Dominique Mollard, File)

By JIM MUSTIAN and LARRY NEUMEISTER Associated Press

British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell was arrested by the FBI on Thursday on charges she helped procure underage sex partners for financier Jeffrey Epstein.

An indictment made public Thursday said Maxwell, who lived for years with Epstein and was his frequent travel companion on trips around the world, facilitated Epstein’s crimes by “helping Epstein to recruit, groom, and ultimately abuse “ girls as young as 14. It also said she participated in the sexual abuse.

Epstein, 66, killed himself in a federal detention center in New York last summer while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.

Maxwell has, for years, been accused by many women of recruiting them to give Epstein massages, during which they were pressured into sex. Those accusations, until now, never resulted in criminal charges.

Maxwell, 58, was arrested in New Hampshire, where the FBI said it had been keeping tabs on her.

“More 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,” William Sweeney, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s New York office, said at a news conference Thursday afternoon.

The indictment included counts of conspiracy to entice minors to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, enticement of a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, conspiracy to transport minors with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity and two counts of perjury.

“Maxwell lied because the truth, as alleged, was almost unspeakable,” Audrey Strauss, the acting U.S. attorney in Manhattan, said at the press conference.

She called the charges against Maxwell a “prequel” to the charges prosecutors brought last summer against Epstein.

Messages were sent Thursday to several of Maxwell’s attorneys seeking comment. She has previously repeatedly denied wrongdoing and called some of the claims against her “absolute rubbish.”

Among the most sensational accusations was a claim by one Epstein victim, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, that Maxwell arranged for her to have sex with Britain’s Prince Andrew at her London townhouse. Giuffre bolstered her allegations with a picture of her, Andrew and Giuffre that she said was taken at the time.

Andrew denied her story and Maxwell said in one deposition that Giuffre was “totally lying.”

He was not mentioned by name in the indictment, and the charges covered Maxwell’s dealings with Epstein only in the period from 1994 through 1997, a period well before his alleged encounters with Giuffre in 2001.

Strauss said she would “welcome Prince Andrew coming in to talk with us,” but did not answer further questions pertaining to these charges and Andrew.

Brad Edwards, an attorney who represents Giuffre and several other Epstein victims said his clients were relieved by the charges. “Today is a very good day,” he said.

The indictment focused on Epstein’s alleged abuse of three specific girls at his Manhattan mansion and other residences in Palm Beach, Florida; Santa Fe, New Mexico and London.

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