BY: JAMES HILL AND AARON KATERSKY, ABC NEWS
(NEW YORK) — Ghislaine Maxwell, a British socialite and longtime companion of the infamous sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, pleaded not guilty to federal sex trafficking charges in a video appearance before a federal judge in New York on Tuesday.
U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan set a trial date for July 12, 2021. The hearing is still ongoing.
Maxwell, 58, is the Oxford-educated daughter of Robert Maxwell, the larger than life publishing baron whose rags-to-riches story captivated England. She lived an extravagant life among the British elite until her father’s business empire collapsed in the wake of his death. She fled to New York looking for a fresh start and was soon seen in the company of the mysterious multimillionaire Epstein.
In a letter to a Florida state prosecutor related to Epstein’s 2008 guilty plea, Epstein’s attorneys describe his relationship with Maxwell as one of two “long-term intimate relationships” Epstein had in adulthood. Maxwell has asserted in court filings that she entered Epstein’s employ in 1999, where she remained, despite the eventual end of their romantic relationship, until at least 2006.
Maxwell is now facing a reckoning for her alleged role in facilitating Epstein’s sexual abuse of young women. She was arrested by federal authorities in New Hampshire earlier this month and is facing a six-count federal indictment alleging that she conspired with Epstein in a multi-state sex trafficking scheme involving three unnamed minor victims between 1994 and 1997. Prosecutors contend Maxwell not only “befriended” and later “enticed and groomed multiple minor girls to engage in sex acts with Epstein, through a variety of means and methods,” but was also, at times, “present for and involved” in the abuse herself.
Maxwell has repeatedly denied those allegations, both in court filings and in a sworn deposition, claiming through her attorneys to have “had no involvement in or knowledge of Epstein’s alleged misconduct.” But several of Epstein’s alleged victims tell an entirely different story, one that often places Maxwell in a role that was central to their abuse. Maxwell has been named as a defendant in five lawsuits from alleged Epstein victims, and in at least three others, alleged victims identify her as one of Epstein’s primary “recruiters.”
According to Brad Edwards, an attorney who represents several of Epstein’s alleged victims, Maxwell’s role in Epstein’s story is clear.
“Ghislaine Maxwell created Jeffrey Epstein,” Edwards told ABC News. “She helped to create the monster that we later understood him to be.”
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