Ghislaine Maxwell trial: What are the charges and case details?

Who is Ghislaine Maxwell and how was she allegedly involved in sex trafficking with Jeffery Epstein? All the case details you need to know before the trial begins.

 Defense lawyer Bobbi Sternheim points toward Ghislaine Maxwell during a pre-trial hearing on charges of sex trafficking, in a courtroom sketch in New York City, U.S., November 23, 2021 (photo credit: REUTERS/JANE ROSENBERG)
Defense lawyer Bobbi Sternheim points toward Ghislaine Maxwell during a pre-trial hearing on charges of sex trafficking, in a courtroom sketch in New York City, U.S., November 23, 2021

Who is Ghislaine Maxwell?

Ghislaine Maxwell is a 59-year-old French-born British socialite and businesswoman who is best known for her association with deceased convicted child sex-offender and financier Jeffery Epstein. Maxwell was raised in Oxford and served in multiple positions within the publishing empire of her father, Robert Maxwell. She managed a few non-profits and social clubs in addition to her business ventures. She has been accused of sex trafficking of minors alongside alleged co-conspirator Jeffery Epstein.

Maxwell and Epstein are alleged to have had connections with leading politicians and celebrities, some of whom, such as Prince Andrew, have been accused of sexual assault in connection to an alleged child prostitution ring run by the duo. A “black book” contact list, allegedly belonging to Maxwell, has the contact information of dozens of high-profile figures, as well as mysterious women who are recorded by only their first names and a single point of contact. A logbook, allegedly for Epstein’s private jet, has also been leaked to the public and includes the names of high profile figures such as former US president Bill Clinton. 

What is Ghislaine Maxwell’s connection to Jeffery Epstein?

Ghislaine Maxwell’s association with Jeffery Epstein has been disputed by various accounts by employees and colleagues. Most accounts place Maxwell as previously having had a romantic relationship with Epstein, usually being his girlfriend. In addition to her romantic relationship with Epstein, she is alleged to have been his confidant and best friend. Some accounts attribute a second-in-command role to her, in which she managed many of the affairs within Epstein’s life.

What are the charges against Ghislaine Maxwell?

Ghislaine Maxwell was indicted for both inciting a minor to travel and transporting them to engage in criminal sexual activity, and conspiracy to commit both crimes, by the Southern District of New York US Attorney’s Office. She has also been indicted for committing perjury in a sworn deposition, which is to be separate from the other charges and tried in another jury trial.

According to the indictment, Ghislaine was alleged to have groomed under-age girls for sexual abuse and prostitution by Epstein from around and at least during 1994 to 1997. The alleged victims are as young as 14.

Ghislaine Maxwell, longtime associate of accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein (credit: REUTERS)Ghislaine Maxwell, longtime associate of accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein (credit: REUTERS)

Ghislaine is alleged by some accusers of enticing the minors with shopping trips, promises of travel and careers in modeling. 

The indictment details how she endeavored to gain the trust of the minors, only to be sexually abused by both her and Epstein. According to some of her accusers, she facilitated the pimping of the minors to high-profile figures. 

“Ghislaine Maxwell facilitated, aided, and participated in acts of sexual abuse of minors,” Acting US Attorney Audrey Strauss said in the indictment. “Maxwell enticed minor girls, got them to trust her, and then delivered them into the trap that she and Jeffrey Epstein had set. 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.  Today, after many years, Ghislaine Maxwell finally stands charged for her role in these crimes.” 

When does the Ghislaine Maxwell sex-trafficking trial begin?

Ghislaine Maxwell’s trial begins on November 29, 2021, and will be presided over by District Judge Alison J. Nathan

The trial will not be televised, and cameras will not be allowed in the courtroom. The transcript of the court proceedings will not be released in full, and subject to redactions at the request of the government and the defendant. The judge made their ruling ostensibly to avoid providing “sensational and impure” materials to those “craving” them, presumably referring to the news media.

What are the conspiracies surrounding Ghislaine Maxwell and Jeffery Epstein?

Both Ghislaine Maxwell and Jeffery Epstein are surrounded by conspiracy theories. 

Epstein was found dead in his cell on August 10, 2019. Epstein was not on suicide watch at the time, despite having been previously found injured on July 23 from a suicide attempt. There were multiple observation failures at the time by his jailers. According to the chief medical examiner in New York City, Dr. Barbara Sampson, an autopsy identified his death as suicide by hanging. The conditions surrounding his death and his connection to high-profile figures have led to the proliferation of a conspiracy theory that Epstein was murdered, which has been spread by a meme phrase stating that “Epstein didn’t kill himself.” According to a 2019 poll conducted by Business Insider, 45% of Americans do not believe that Epstein killed himself. 

Ghislaine has also been subject to conspiracy theories. Her father, Holocaust survivor and World War II veteran Robert Maxwell was alleged to have connections to multiple intelligence agencies, including the Mossad. He died under uncertain circumstances in a boating accident. Robert was buried in Jerusalem and was reported by The Washington Post as having been eulogized by several Israeli intelligence and political leaders. He was also accused of having committed financial fraud on a massive scale. Due to allegations about Robert’s intelligence community connections, online conspiracy theorists have claimed Ghislaine is also a Mossad agent.