Epstein’s death renews focus on Ghislaine Maxwell, accused of recruiting and grooming underage girls for sexual abuse

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The death of Jeffrey Epstein over the weekend has put renewed focus on the British socialite and heiress Ghislaine Maxwell, who has been accused in civil court documents of conspiring with the disgraced financier to recruit and groom underage girls for sexual abuse.

Maxwell, 57, the daughter of the late press baron Robert Maxwell, has repeatedly and vehemently denied allegations of involvement in a sextrafficking network run by Epstein, who was awaiting trial in a New York prison when he died.

Before his death, Epstein denied federal charges of sex trafficking involving minors which could have led to a 45-year prison sentence. However he faced a mountain of evidence, including testimony from alleged victims and documents obtained by prosecutors indicating an elaborate trafficking ring.

Meanwhile, Two French government ministers called on Monday for an investigation into the activities in France of Jeffrey Epstein, the US financier found dead in an apparent suicide while being held on sex-trafficking charges.

A number of Epstein’s accusers have identified Maxwell as playing a central role in arranging the abuse of his victims. The most recent accusations were contained in more than 2,000 pages of court documents unsealed last week in connection to a civil case that one of Epstein’s accusers, Virginia Giuffre, filed against Maxwell back in 2015.

Giuffre has previously accused Maxwell of recruiting her to work as Epstein’s masseuse aged 15, when she was a locker room attendant at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in south Florida. When Maxwell accused her of lying, Giuffre brought the defamation suit, which was settled shortly before trial in 2017.

In documents unsealed on Friday, just hours before Epstein was found dead in his cell, Giuffre’s lawyers accused Maxwell of “acting as a madam” for the financier, alleging that “multiple witnesses” had testified that she was responsible for “recruiting, maintaining, harbouring and trafficking girls for Epstein”.

Maxwell has never been criminally charged, and has always denied wrongdoing. Maxwell’s lawyers have not responded to requests for comment.

According to Giuffre, now 35, and other women who claim they were abused by Epstein when they were underage in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Maxwell’s responsibilities included finding and grooming girls to provide the financier – and his wealthy friends – with massages and sexual acts. Giuffre has alleged that one of the figures she was coerced into sexual encounters with was Prince Andrew. Buckingham Palace has repeatedly denied the claims, saying “any suggestion of impropriety with underage minors is categorically untrue”.

Via The Guardian Print Edition / France 24

Additional Report and Photo via Wikify India

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