Lawyer for Jeffrey Epstein's victims responds to latest developments

Newstalk ZB / NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Fri, 3 Jul 2020, 6:10PM
Jeffrey Epstein is dead and now Ghislaine Maxwell could be locked in the jail where died. Photo / Getty Images

Lawyer for Jeffrey Epstein's victims responds to latest developments

Newstalk ZB / NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Fri, 3 Jul 2020, 6:10PM

Jeffrey Epstein's alleged "madam" Ghislaine Maxwell may co-operate in a federal investigation despite the charges against her, prosecutors revealed.

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 a number of Epstein's residences – including his mansions in New York City and Florida.

Prosecutors said investigators found her "hiding" on a 63ha property she bought with cash last December.

Maxwell and her attorney Lawrence Vogelman faced the Concord courtroom via video link shortly after 3.30pm for 20 minutes, after agreeing to a remote hearing.

Magistrate Judge Andrea Johnstone told Maxwell she would be temporarily detained and taken to the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) – where hearings would begin.

The acting US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Audrey Strauss, revealed in a press conference that she wasn't worried about Maxwell's perjury charge when it came to her ability to testify against others.

"In the event that if she even were to become a cooperator, I think we could deal with that," Strauss said.

She will either be held overnight in a local jail or transported immediately back to the Big Apple unless the New Hampshire judge releases her on bail.

If she's brought to New York, she would be transferred to either the Metropolitan Correctional Centre (MCC) in Lower Manhattan or the Metropolitan Detention Centre in Brooklyn, Bloomberg reported, citing legal experts.

The MCC is where Epstein was found dead in his cell before his sex-trafficking trial after being charged with the sex trafficking of minors.

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 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 Maxwell helped Jeffrey Epstein sexually assault and abuse multiple minor girls from 1994 to 1997.

"The indictment against Jeffrey Epstein charged Epstein with sexual abuse from 2002 through 2005," she said 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 Maxwell also participated in the abuse in some cases.

Strauss described how the pair had a "method" in which "typically" 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 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" Strauss said.

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.

She "compounded her crimes by repeatedly lying under oath", Strauss said. "Maxwell lied because the truth as alleged, was almost unspeakable."

"Maxwell enticed minor girls, got them to trust her and then delivered them into the trap that she and Epstein had set for them.

"She pretended to be a woman they could trust. All the while she was setting them up to be sexually abused by Epstein and in some cases by Maxwell herself."

Assistant director of the office, Bill Sweeney, described her as one of the "villains" of the investigation" who had been sought for many months by the agency.

He said they had recently got wind Maxwell had "slithered away to a gorgeous property in New Hampshire [where she was] continuing to live a life of privilege. We moved when we were ready and Ms Maxwell was arrested without incident."