Ghislaine Maxwell facing new sex trafficking charges in US court case

30 March 2021, 06:43 | Updated: 3 April 2021, 06:53

Ghislaine Maxwell is facing new sex trafficking charges
Ghislaine Maxwell is facing new sex trafficking charges. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Ghislaine Maxwell is facing new sex trafficking charges in the US as prosecutors expand their case against the former girlfriend of Jeffrey Epstein.

A fourth alleged victim has been added to the case, while the new charges include sex trafficking conspiracy and sex trafficking of a minor.

The 59-year-old previously pleaded not guilty to the charge of helping disgraced financier Epstein recruit and groom three teenage girls for sex between 1994 and 1997, and the separate charge of lying about her role.

However, the prosecution has added new charges - in a rewritten indictment returned by a grand jury in Manhattan federal court - that allege the conspiracy occurred between 1994 and 2004.

The fourth alleged victim is a girl who has claimed to have suffered abuse at the hands of Epstein between 2001 and 2004 at his property in Palm Beach, Florida, starting when she was just 14 years old.

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Prosecutors said Maxwell groomed the girl to engage in sex acts with Epstein, who killed himself at a Manhattan federal jail in August 2019, in multiple ways.

These included giving the girl lingerie, handing her hundreds of dollars in cash and encouraging her to recruit other young females to provide "sexualised massages" to Epstein.

The previous indictment, returned after Maxwell's arrest in July, had limited her alleged crimes to a three-year period in the 1990s.

Earlier this year, the 59-year-old's lawyers challenged the charges against her, saying they were obtained unjustly and did not properly allege crimes.

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They said the indictment also violated an agreement federal prosecutors made 12 years ago not to charge Epstein or those who worked for him.

In a letter to a judge on Monday, prosecutors acknowledged the rewritten indictment may require defence lawyers to supplement their arguments to dismiss charges.

However, the government also promised not to bring another rewritten indictment against her if lawyers do not request to postpone a trial scheduled for 12 July.

Maxwell has been kept in a federal jail without release after a judge rejected bail packages three times, the last of which included offers to renounce her citizenships in the UK and France, to be kept in place by armed guards and to post $28.5 million (£20.7 million) in assets.

She has appealed against the bail rejections.

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