July 11, 2019

USA: Epstein Longtime Partner, Ghislaine Maxwell, Daughter Of British Media Baron, A British Socialite, Has Been Accused Of Recruiting Underage Women For Epstein And Training Them To Be Sex Slaves.

Wall Street Journal (WSJ)
written by Nicole Hong and Rebecca Davis O’Brien
Thursday July 11, 2019

Ghislaine Maxwell, daughter of a British media baron, was a fixture for years in Manhattan’s social scene, often written about in tabloids for her close ties to British royalty and to a mysterious financier named Jeffrey Epstein.

But Mr. Epstein’s arrest last week on sex-trafficking charges has brought renewed attention to her alleged role as one of his top aides.

Ms. Maxwell, 57 years old, has been accused by three women in affidavits and other court filings of recruiting young women for Mr. Epstein and training them for sex. Two of the women have alleged that Ms. Maxwell, together with Mr. Epstein, sexually assaulted them, according to the filings.

The accusations were made as early as 2009 in lawsuits covering conduct that allegedly occurred from the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s. Together with the federal indictment in New York against Mr. Epstein, the civil cases describe an enterprise centered on procuring and sexually exploiting young women, and intimidating them into silence.

One accuser in a 2017 lawsuit called Ms. Maxwell “the highest-ranking employee” of that alleged enterprise, a role in which she was said to have had managed Mr. Epstein’s household and his sex life.

Ms. Maxwell, who has been named in several lawsuits claiming she played a prominent role in the alleged sex-trafficking scheme, has previously denied through a spokesman any wrongdoing.

Ms. Maxwell hasn’t been charged. A spokesman for the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office, which brought the new charges against Mr. Epstein, declined to comment.

Mr. Epstein was arrested Saturday night on an indictment that carries two charges related to federal sex-trafficking. Prosecutors allege he lured dozens of underage girls to his homes in New York and Florida to perform naked massages that steadily progressed to sex, for which the girls were paid hundreds of dollars.

Mr. Epstein has pleaded not guilty. His lawyers referred questions about Ms. Maxwell to a lawyer for Ms. Maxwell. That lawyer, Jeffrey Pagliuca, didn’t respond to requests for comment. Three other lawyers for Ms. Maxwell didn’t respond by email or phone to requests to comment for this article.

The indictment comes more than a decade after Mr. Epstein reached a deal with authorities in Florida in which he pleaded guilty to two prostitution-related state charges in exchange for prosecutors promising not to charge him federally. As part of the nonprosecution agreement in 2007, federal prosecutors in Miami also agreed not to bring criminal charges against any possible co-conspirators of Mr. Epstein. The agreement named four women as potential co-conspirators and didn’t include Ms. Maxwell.

Ms. Maxwell is a daughter of British media tycoon Robert Maxwell, who died in 1991 after falling off his yacht, which was named the “Lady Ghislaine.” A few years later, the first public reports of Ms. Maxwell’s romantic relationship with Mr. Epstein surfaced in tabloids. In a 2009 deposition, a former house manager for Mr. Epstein testified that Ms. Maxwell was his “main girlfriend” starting around 1992.

Mr. Epstein in 1995 renamed a company he had in Palm Beach, Fla., to Ghislaine Corp., which was dissolved in 1998, according to Florida state records. Mr. Epstein called Ms. Maxwell his “best friend” in a 2003 interview with Vanity Fair.

Ms. Maxwell lived in Manhattan until at least 2016 and formed a nonprofit called TerraMar Project, whose purpose is to “raise awareness and spread knowledge regarding the high seas,” she wrote in a 2018 court filing.

In depositions taken in 2009 and 2010 as part of civil lawsuits against Mr. Epstein, household employees said Ms. Maxwell was a central figure in Mr. Epstein’s private life. Several said Ms. Maxwell hired, supervised, and fired household staff, while directing the visits of dozens of "massage therapists”—typically young women.

Juan Alessi, who said in one of the depositions that he served as the Palm Beach house manager from around 1992 through 2002, described a basket of sex toys in Ms. Maxwell’s bathroom closet. He said he would find them around when he cleaned up after visits from the young women.

Ms. Maxwell asked Mr. Alessi to make a list of massage parlors and massage schools in the area, he testified, then asked him to drive her to the locations, where she collected business cards.

Mr. Alessi said in his deposition he left the household on bad terms at the end of 2002, and clashed often with Ms. Maxwell.

More information about Ms. Maxwell’s relationship with Mr. Epstein is expected to be publicly revealed in the coming weeks. Last week, before Mr. Epstein’s arrest, a federal appeals court in New York ordered the unsealing of up to 2,000 pages of court documents that had been kept private as part of a lawsuit against Ms. Maxwell that was settled in 2017. Ms. Maxwell had fought to keep the records sealed, and a lawyer for Ms. Maxwell said in a court filing Wednesday her legal team intends to petition the court for a rehearing.

That lawsuit was brought in 2015 by Virginia Giuffre, who has alleged for years that Ms. Maxwell recruited her to be sexually exploited by Mr. Epstein when she was a minor. She has said Ms. Maxwell first approached her in 2000 around her 17th birthday while she was working as a changing-room assistant at Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, which was then and remains owned by President Trump.

Ms. Giuffre first accused Ms. Maxwell in a 2009 lawsuit she brought against Mr. Epstein. According to the lawsuit, during her first visit to Mr. Epstein’s home in Palm Beach, he lay naked on a massage table while Ms. Maxwell took off her own shirt and allegedly rubbed her breasts across Ms. Giuffre’s body. The lawsuit says Ms. Giuffre then was ordered to remove her clothing, after which Mr. Epstein and Ms. Maxwell allegedly sexually assaulted her. She said she was paid hundreds of dollars afterward.

Ms. Giuffre said she agreed to Mr. Epstein’s request for her to quit her job and massage him full-time, alleging she was regularly sexually abused and was paid to engage in sexual activity with Mr. Epstein’s friends, including royalty, politicians and businessmen.

Ms. Giuffre’s 2009 lawsuit was settled out of court.

“No amount of money can compensate victims of sex trafficking for what they have suffered,” said David Boies, a lawyer for Ms. Giuffre and at least two other women who have publicly accused Ms. Maxwell. “In addition to the money recovered for victims, our civil lawsuits developed an extensive evidentiary record of Epstein’s sex trafficking, and Maxwell’s and others’ participation in it. …”

Two former house managers of Mr. Epstein testified in 2009 depositions that Ms. Maxwell kept collections of nude photographs, some depicting young women in sex acts.

In an affidavit filed in April as part of a defamation lawsuit, another woman, Maria Farmer, said she met Ms. Maxwell and Mr. Epstein around 1995 at an art show when she was a graduate student. Mr. Epstein hired her to help him acquire art, she said, but she ultimately “manned” the front door of his New York mansion and kept records of visitors.

Mr. Epstein arranged for her to work on an art project at the Ohio mansion of his longtime business associate Leslie Wexner, the billionaire chief executive of Victoria’s Secret’s parent company. While there in 1996, Ms. Farmer alleges Ms. Maxwell and Mr. Epstein sexually assaulted her. Ms. Farmer said she fled the room and, upon returning to New York, reported the incident to the New York Police Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation.

A spokesman for the FBI declined to comment. A spokeswoman for the NYPD said the agency “takes sexual assault and rape cases extremely seriously, and urges anyone who has been a victim to file a police report so we can conduct a comprehensive investigation, and offer support and services to survivors.”

A spokesman for Mr. Wexner said he “completely severed ties” with Mr. Epstein nearly 12 years ago.

Sarah Ransome, who sued Mr. Epstein, Ms. Maxwell and others in 2017 alleges in her lawsuit that Ms. Maxwell instructed her how to massage Mr. Epstein using the techniques he preferred and ordered her to have sex with Mr. Epstein.

Ms. Ransome said she was recruited in 2006, when Ms. Maxwell allegedly told her that Mr. Epstein could use his connections to get Ms. Ransome into college, but only if she agreed to provide him with massages. Ms. Maxwell and Mr. Epstein used verbal threats to coerce her into sexual compliance, Ms. Ransome alleged. She hasn’t said she was underage at the time.

Ms. Ransome also accused Ms. Maxwell and Mr. Epstein of helping to conceal the operation from law enforcement by requiring subordinates to sign confidentiality agreements, refrain from speaking to law enforcement and destroy evidence.

In response to the lawsuit, a lawyer for Ms. Maxwell wrote in a March 2018 filing that Ms. Ransome voluntarily entered a sexual relationship with Mr. Epstein as an adult and was never forced to continue against her will. Lawyers for Mr. Epstein wrote in a November 2017 filing that Ms. Ransome was not a victim of sex-trafficking and that the relationship was between consensual adults. The lawsuit settled late last year.
The Miami Herald
written by Marta Oliver Craviotto, Emily Michot, and Julie K. Brown
Wednesday July 3, 2019

A New York federal appeals court on Wednesday ordered the unsealing of up to 2,000 pages of judicial documents that are expected to show evidence relating to whether New York financier Jeffrey Epstein and his partner, Ghislaine Maxwell, were recruiting underage girls and young women as part of an international sex trafficking operation.

The decision comes two days after the Miami Herald urged the court to issue a ruling in the civil case in the wake of last week’s Justice Department announcement in the federal criminal case that it would not void Epstein’s controversial 2008 non-prosecution agreement.

Using others as recruiters, Epstein lured underage girls to his waterfront estate in Palm Beach from 1997 to 2006 under the guise that he was hiring them to give him massages. He sexually abused them, the girls told authorities, then paid them to recruit other girls, mostly 13 to 16 years old. Epstein, now 66, was never federally prosecuted, having received immunity in exchange for pleading guilty to lesser charges in state court in 2008.

Maxwell, 57, the daughter of the late publishing magnate Robert Maxwell, has never been charged with a crime and has denied allegations that she acted as a “madam’’ of the operation. She nevertheless fought to keep the records in the New York civil case sealed.

In addition to the Miami Herald, assorted other news organizations, including The New York Times and The Washington Post, filed a brief asking the court to release the documents. Social media blogger Michael Cernovich and Epstein’s attorney, Alan Dershowitz, also sought unsealing of some of the records.

The New York case, filed in 2015, was brought by Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who claims that she was trafficked by Epstein and Maxwell to wealthy and powerful politicians, lawyers, academics and government leaders when she was underage. Giuffre sued Maxwell for defamation after Maxwell publicly denounced her as a liar.

The case was settled in Giuffre’s favor in 2017, several sources have told the Herald. Nearly all the documents filed in connection with the case, however, were sealed. The Herald was unsuccessful in reaching Maxwell’s lawyer, Ty Gee, for comment Wednesday.

The Herald, as part of a November investigation called “Perversion of Justice,” went to court to unseal all the records in January. A lower court ruled against the newspaper, and the appeals court heard arguments by the Herald, Cernovich and Dershowitz in March.

Giuffre’s attorney, David Boies, said the appeals court reaffirmed basic legal principles involving an open judiciary.

“The most important point is the court is saying that facts that are brought out in court proceedings that go to improper and, in some cases, unlawful conduct should not be concealed from the public,’’ Boies said.

“The court is saying the public has a right to know what the evidence is in cases involving the public interest. Cases of sexual abuse and sex trafficking are cases in which the public has an obvious and compelling interest.’’

In its decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that a lower district court erred when it issued a blanket sealing of the case, which essentially allowed all the parties to file everything under wraps.

“The District Court failed to review the documents individually and produce ‘specific, on‐the‐record findings that sealing is necessary to preserve higher values.’ Instead, the District Court made generalized statements about the record as a whole. This ... was legal error,’’ said Judge Jose A. Cabranes, writing for the three-member panel.

The court, in a 2-1 decision, said the portion of the case involving summary judgment materials (167 documents, 2,000 pages) should be unsealed forthwith, except for minor redactions. The balance of the case history — involving perhaps thousands of additional pages — will be reviewed by the lower court. In her dissent, Judge Rosemary Pooler concurred with unsealing the documents, but disagreed with how they should be reviewed.

Cabranes said that the public’s right to access outweighs the privacy rights of individuals seeking to keep information secret. However, he also cautioned the press to “exercise restraint in covering potentially defamatory allegations,’’ pointing out that documents in court records should not necessarily be considered fact.

“When faithfully observing its best traditions, the print and electronic media ‘contributes to public understanding of the rule of law’ and ‘validates [its] claim of functioning as surrogates for the public.’ At the same time, the media does the public a profound disservice when it reports on parties’ allegations uncritically,’’ he wrote.

The decision could still be appealed by two unnamed individuals who are concerned that their names will be released in connection with the case.

The court’s determination comes as the victims continue to wage another legal battle in federal court. Last week, in a 35-page filing, federal prosecutors in Georgia declared that they would not set aside Epstein’s federal non-prosecution agreement, dealing a blow to victims who wanted it nullified.

The Herald, in its letter to the New York appeals court, said the Georgia filing means the Justice Department has no intention of allowing Epstein’s victims and the public to examine the facts of Epstein’s case and reach their own conclusions. Herald attorney Sanford L. Bohrer said the Georgia filing shows that it is even more important that the appeals court act to unseal the New York case.

In February, a federal judge in Florida, Kenneth A. Marra, ruled that the government violated the Crime Victims’ Rights Act when it failed to inform Epstein’s victims that prosecutors had disposed of the case. He ordered prosecutors and lawyers for the victims to come up with a possible remedy. The victims’ lawyers are expected to file their response next week. Epstein, who is an intervenor in the case, is also expected to file arguments.

The Herald’s investigation detailed how federal prosecutors, led by then-Miami U.S. Attorney Alexander Acosta, worked together with Epstein’s high-powered legal team to give him and an undisclosed number of other people federal immunity for crimes committed against underage girls.

“We continue to believe that justice was not well served by the secrecy cloaking nearly every aspect of Mr. Epstein’s alleged sex crimes,” said Casey Frank, the Miami Herald’s senior editor for investigations. “We are all better off when allegations as serious as those against Mr. Epstein are held up to the light rather than buried.”

Giuffre has claimed that Epstein and Maxwell forced her to have sex with a number of powerful, politically connected men, among them Prince Andrew and Dershowitz. Both have vehemently denied the allegations. Dershowitz says that there are documents in the Maxwell file that will prove that Giuffre has wrongly accused him.

“When the materials are unsealed, the public will see the evidence in my accuser’s own words that prove I was framed to get money, and that I am totally innocent, as I have consistently asserted since the day I was falsely accused,’’ Dershowitz said in a statement.

“My false accuser’s lawyers will try to spin this, but no amount of self-serving spin can deny the reality of her own written admissions.’’

Giuffre filed a defamation lawsuit in New York federal court against Dershowitz in April, claiming that the famed Harvard law professor has falsely said in public statements that Giuffre lied for financial gain. That case, which Dershowitz wants dismissed, is still pending.

Acosta, who is now President Donald Trump’s labor secretary, has said the deal was a fair one because it ensured that Epstein, who agreed to plead guilty to state charges, would serve some time in a county jail and required that he register as a sex offender. Epstein served 13 months in the Palm Beach County stockade, receiving liberal work release privileges despite rules that barred work release for sex offenders.
UPDATE 7/11/19 at 4:59pm: I added tweet below.
UPDATE 7/11/19 at 6:02pm: I added tweets below.

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