Ghislaine Maxwell’s child sex-trafficking trial starts next week. Here’s a breakdown of the allegations against Jeffrey Epstein’s former girlfriend.

Ghislaine maxwell
Ghislaine Maxwell in November 2015. Jared Siskin/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images
  • Jeffrey Epstein associate Ghislaine Maxwell’s federal trial is scheduled to begin on Monday.
  • Prosecutors allege she sexually abused teenagers, sex-trafficked them with Epstein, and lied about her actions.
  • The trial is expected to include evidence about her relationship with Epstein and other “powerful men.”

It was an astonishing sight for a small New Hampshire town. On July 2, 2020, black FBI vans crowded the driveway of a 4,300-square-foot house while helicopters circled overhead. Agents announced themselves as they knocked at the door of the home, which sits on 156 acres of land, then forced their way inside.

They came out with Ghislaine Maxwell, the former girlfriend of the late pedophile financier Jeffrey Epstein, who prosecutors said fled from agents deep into the palatial home where she’d been living under a different name. Federal officers then transported her from Bradford, New Hampshire, to the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn.

Audrey Strauss, who was then the acting US attorney in Manhattan, trumpeted an indictment against Maxwell on sex-trafficking charges.

“Maxwell enticed minor girls, got them to trust her, and then delivered them into the trap that she and Jeffrey Epstein had set,” Strauss said at the time. “She pretended to be a woman they could trust. All the while, she was setting them up to be abused sexually by Epstein and, in some cases, Maxwell herself.”

After more than a year of battles between federal prosecutors and Maxwell’s team of high-powered attorneys over the charges and evidence in the case, the trial date, and Maxwell’s jail conditions, opening arguments for the British socialite’s trial are scheduled to begin on Monday. The trial is expected to last between three and six weeks.

If she’s convicted on all charges, Maxwell, 59, could face a prison sentence of up to 80 years.

Maxwell is currently being tried on six of the eight charges against her

Prosecutors have updated the indictment against Maxwell several times since a federal grand jury first brought charges in 2020. The current, eight-count version of the indictment was filed in March. It alleges that, between 1994 and 2004, Maxwell participated in illegal conduct against girls as young as 14. Some of the charges were brought under the Mann Act, which criminalizes sex trafficking.

Maxwell has pleaded not guilty to all the charges against her. Her lawyers have argued that prosecutors overstated her relationship with Epstein, that she wasn’t aware of his sexual predation, and that she didn’t participate in any sexual misconduct.

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Ghislaine Maxwell sits during jury selection in the trial of Maxwell, Jeffrey Epstein’s associate accused of sex trafficking, in a courtroom sketch in New York City, U.S., November 17, 2021. REUTERS/Jane Rosenberg

Prosecutors have identified four accusers for the purposes of the trial. Annie Farmer is expected to testify under her real name, and three other witnesses are expected to use pseudonyms.

These are the charges prosecutors will try to prove to a jury over the next several weeks:

  • Conspiracy to entice minors to travel to engage in illegal sex acts: The broadest charge against Maxwell involves all four accusers in the case.

    • It alleges she participated in multiple group sexual encounters with Epstein and “Minor Victim-1” between 1994 and 1997 in New York and Florida. It also accuses Maxwell of enticing that same victim from Florida to New York for the purpose of sexually abusing her at Epstein’s Manhattan townhouse.
    • The charge also includes “Minor Victim-2,” alleging Maxwell gave her an unsolicited massage, during which the victim was topless, at Epstein’s vast New Mexico ranch in 1996.
    • For “Minor Victim-3,” the indictment alleges that, sometime between 1994 or 1995, Maxwell encouraged her to fly to London so that Epstein could sexually abuse her.
    • The count also says Maxwell tried to fly “Minor Victim-4” from Florida to another location with Epstein, and that Maxwell knew Epstein would sexually abuse the minor.
  • Enticement of a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts: Prosecutors say that, between 1994 and 1997, Maxwell coerced “Minor Victim-1” to travel from Florida to Manhattan so that Epstein could have sex with the accuser.
  • Conspiracy to transport minors with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity: This charge alleges Maxwell, Epstein, “and others known and unknown” conspired to transport all four accusers to Epstein’s various properties in the US, as well as Maxwell’s London home, for the purpose of illegal sex.
  • Transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity: Similar to the first two counts, prosecutors allege Maxwell arranged for “Minor Victim-1” to fly from Florida to New York so that Epstein could have illegal sex with her.
  • Sex trafficking conspiracy: Prosecutors added this count regarding “Minor Victim-4” in the months after the initial indictment that led to Maxwell’s arrest. They allege that, between 2001 and 2004, Maxwell recruited the underage accuser to have sex with Epstein at his Palm Beach mansion, paid her, and gave her gifts. The charge also alleges that Maxwell and Epstein encouraged “Minor Victim-4” to recruit other girls for paid sex.
  • Sex trafficking of a minor: According to this charge, which also involves “Minor Victim-4,” Maxwell “recruited, enticed, harbored, transported, provided, and obtained” girls under the age of 18 to have paid sex with Epstein.

Maxwell will be tried separately on two perjury charges

In addition to the sex trafficking and conspiracy charges, prosecutors included two perjury charges in the indictment. They claim Maxwell lied in a civil deposition taken for a defamation lawsuit from Virginia Giuffre, who accused both Epstein and Maxwell of sexual misconduct.

In the April 22, 2016, deposition, Maxwell said she didn’t know Epstein had “a scheme to recruit underage girls for sexual massages;” didn’t know of people under the age of 18 who she interacted with on Epstein’s properties; wasn’t aware of sex toys at Epstein’s properties; didn’t participate in orgies with Epstein; and had never given anyone a massage.

Prosecutors say her denials were lies.

“The defendant repeatedly provided false and perjurious statements, under oath, regarding, among other subjects, her role in facilitating the abuse of minor victims by Jeffrey Epstein,” the indictment says.

Virginia Giuffre
Virginia Roberts Giuffre holds a news conference in 2019 outside a Manhattan court where sexual assault claimants invited by a judge addressed a hearing following Epstein’s jailhouse death in New York. Associated Press/Bebeto Matthews

In April, US District Judge Alison Nathan, who’s overseeing the case, ruled in Maxwell’s favor and agreed to sever the perjury charges from the rest of the indictment. She hasn’t yet scheduled a trial for the perjury charges. 

Nathan pointed out that addressing those charges together with the sex-trafficking charges may unfairly deprive Maxwell of some of her lawyers, who are also involved in challenging Giuffre’s lawsuit.

Nathan also ruled the evidence related to the perjury charges might “introduce unrelated allegations of sexual abuse” that might bias the jury. Though Giuffre has accused Maxwell of sexually abusing and trafficking her when she was underage, prosecutors haven’t identified her as a victim for the purpose of the other six criminal charges.

The trial is expected to shed light on Maxwell’s relationship with Epstein and other powerful men

Epstein killed himself in jail in August 2019 while awaiting trial on similar charges brought by members of the same prosecutor’s office.

Maxwell’s trial is expected to make public more evidence about her relationship with Epstein. The two have been linked romantically, professionally, and socially between the 1990s and mid-2010s. The indictment alleges they worked together to groom girls for sex by taking them shopping, offering payments for travel and education, talking with them about sex, and enticing them to take part in sexualized massages.

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Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell in 2005. Joe Schildhorn/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Epstein had landed on authorities’ radar once before. A 2006 law enforcement investigation found he engaged in sexual misconduct with 34 women and underage girls, but the wealthy financier’s team of high-powered lawyers secured a lenient plea deal and sentence for him on a solicitation of prostitution charge. He and Maxwell continued to travel in respected social circles for the following decade. After Epstein’s death, a compensation fund established by his estate identified around 160 people as his victims.

Evidence in Maxwell’s trial may also include details about her relationship with “powerful men,” according to a filing from prosecutors earlier in November. Prosecutors say they told Maxwell’s lawyers that they plan to share several emails that show Maxwell “took steps to please other influential men by providing them access to women she selected for them.”

“During the same time the defendant was taking steps to recruit and groom minor victims for Jeffrey Epstein, she was also using her ability to provide access to women as a form of social currency with other influential men with whom she sought to ingratiate herself,” prosecutors wrote, adding: “These emails make clear that the defendant was willing to serve in such a role, and that she was eager to please wealthy and influential men by providing them with access to women.”