Jeffrey Epstein's longtime confidant and former girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell was arrested Thursday and is facing multiple sex abuse charges stemming from an alleged sex trafficking conspiracy involving underage girls.
In a six-count indictment unsealed after her arrest, prosecutors allege Maxwell enticed minors to travel to Epstein's multiple residences-- including a multi-story apartment on Manhattan's Upper East Side, his residence in Palm Beach, Fla., his ranch in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and to Maxwell's house in London-- to engage in illegal sex acts
Prosecutors say that from 1994 to at least 1997 Maxwell -- who dated Epstein while the alleged abuses were taking place -- "assisted, facilitated, and contributed to Jeffrey Epstein's abuse of minor girls by, among other things, helping Epstein to recruit, groom, and ultimately abuse victims" whom they knew were under the age of 18.
Maxwell allegedly attempted to befriend the girls, some who were as young as 14, by "asking the victims about their lives, their schools, and their families."
Prosecutors allege that both Maxwell and Epstein spent time with the girls, taking them on outings to the movies or shopping trips in an attempt to court them and gain their trust.
Maxwell, 58, would also "try to normalize sexual abuse" by discussing sexual topics, undressing in front of the victims, or being present during sexual encounters between the girls and Epstein, which "helped put the victims at ease because an adult woman was present."
Maxwell allegedly initiated massages on Epstein to groom at least three girls, and encourage them to perform sexualized massages on him as well, an act of foreplay before Epstein sexually abused the minors sometimes using sex toys and other objects, the indictment said.
Prosecutors said Maxwell, working as Epstein's associate, "facilitated" his access to young girls because she knew he had a "preference for underage girls," and that the pair lauded money, the opportunity to travel and educational opportunities over the victims as an incentive to the sexual encounters.
Maxwell was charged with two counts of perjury, after testifying to a grand jury, among other things, that she never gave Epstein or an underage victim a massage, and that she was unaware that the disgraced financier possessed or used sex toys during sexual activities.
Several victims have come forward alleging that Maxwell acted as a "madame" and connected them with high profile men to engage in illicit sexual activities. One victim says Maxwell shuffled her across the world to have sex with Britain's Prince Andrew, claims both Maxwell and Andrew deny.
Maxwell is facing up to 35 years in prison if convicted on the charges.