Epstein confidant Ghislaine Maxwell faces new sex trafficking charges

The new indictment accuses Maxwell of grooming and paying a 14-year-old girl to engage in sex acts with Jeffrey Epstein at his Florida home from 2001 to 2004.

Federal prosecutors on Monday expanded the criminal case against Ghislaine Maxwell, Jeffrey Epstein’s longtime confidant, charging her for the first time with sex trafficking.

The new eight-count indictment accuses Maxwell of grooming and paying a 14-year-old girl to engage in sex acts with Epstein at his home in Palm Beach, Florida, from 2001 to 2004.

Maxwell was already facing six counts tied to Epstein’s alleged sex trafficking network. The new charges are a significant escalation.

Prosecutors had accused Maxwell of facilitating the abuse of three young girls in the mid-1990s. The new indictment adds a fourth alleged victim and accuses Maxwell of enabling Epstein’s abuse into the mid-2000s.

The indictment says Maxwell and others called up the victim to schedule the encounters and paid her hundreds of dollars in cash after each visit.

Maxwell “sought to normalize inappropriate and abusive conduct by, among other things, discussing sexual topics in front of [the victim] and being present when [the victim] was nude in the massage room of the Palm Beach residence” of Epstein, the indictment says.

Maxwell’s attorneys did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Maxwell was arrested at a remote New Hampshire mansion in July. Prosecutors say she played a key role in Epstein’s abuse of underage girls, helping to groom the victims and encouraging them to accept his offers of financial assistance. She also participated in some of the abuse herself, according to the original indictment.

She pleaded not guilty to the charges in the original indictment, which included conspiracy to entice minors and conspiracy to transport minors, but not sex trafficking. The two additional charges are sex trafficking conspiracy and sex trafficking of a minor.

Maxwell is locked up at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, New York, just across the river from the federal prison in Manhattan where Epstein died by suicide in August 2019 while he was awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.