Now, after a life full of scandal and luxury, Maxwell’s trial will set in the United States.
Starting Monday, New York prosecutors will say she was sipping cocktails with the likes of Prince Andrew, Bill Clinton and Donald Trump Maxwell, 59, was secretly instigating Epstein’s crimes with girls as young as 14.
Key question for the jurors: Was Maxwell an unwitting pawn to manipulate Epstein or an opportunist who knows all about his sex crimes?
Ian Maxwell says his sister is being attacked by a US criminal justice system bent on holding someone responsible for Epstein’s crimes.
“She’s paying a heavy price, a price in blood for that,” he told The Associated Press.
Ghislaine Maxwell grew up in Headington Hill Hall, a 51-room English country mansion where politicians, business tycoons, and newspaper editors attended lavish parties punctuated by trumpeters and fireworks. BBC photos from that time show Gislan as a child with a kid-sized plate of food, twirling in a party dress, learning how to be a major networker.
Her father, born Jan Ludvik Hoch, was one of nine children of Yiddish-speaking parents in a village in what is now southwestern Ukraine. To escape the Holocaust, he eventually joined the British Army, rose to the rank of captain and turned himself into Robert Maxwell.
After the war, Maxwell built on his military ties to buy the rights to German scientific journals, and the beginnings of a publishing empire that eventually included the Daily Mirror, one of Britain’s largest tabloids, as well as the New York Daily News and writers. Macmillan Publisher.
Along the way, he married, had nine children and was twice elected to Parliament. He also gained a reputation for outrageous behavior and bullying of his subordinates.
Ghislaine was Maxwell’s youngest child, born on Christmas Day 1961. Her brother Michael was severely damaged in the brain in a car accident just days later at the age of 15, although he lived for another seven years.
Her mother, Elizabeth Maxwell, wrote in her memoirs that she and Robert were so focused on their afflicted son that their infant daughter was overlooked. Ghislaine was so neglectful that at the age of three she stood before her mother and said, “Mama, I exist!”
“I was devastated,” Elizabeth Maxwell wrote in her book, A Mind of My Own: My Life with Robert Maxwell. Spoiled, I’m the only one of my kids who can really say that. ”
MORE: Ghislaine Maxwell calls Prince Andrew’s accuser a ‘terrible fantasy’
While studying history at Oxford in the early 1980s, Ghislaine Maxwell began building relationships of her own, including Prince Andrew, who later invited her and Epstein to Windsor Castle and Sandringham, a country estate of Queen Elizabeth II.
After graduation she worked with her father in various roles. In 1991, when she was 29, she became his envoy to the United States after he bought the Daily News amid efforts to compete with media mogul – and New York Post owner – Rupert Murdoch.
Later that year, Robert Maxwell fell off his yacht – Lady Ghislaine – in the Canary Islands and died in what some considered an accident and others a suicide. Investors would discover that his fortune was an illusion: He transferred hundreds of millions of pounds from his corporate pension funds to prop up his empire.
Shortly after her father’s death, Ghislaine Maxwell was photographed sitting next to Epstein during a memorial at the Plaza Hotel.
John Sweeney, a longtime British journalist and author of the podcast “Hunting Ghislaine,” told the Associated Press that he believes “after the monster’s death, I found a second monster.”
“Robert Maxwell stole hundreds of millions of pounds from people who were counting on his good word; Jeffrey Epstein turned out to be a darker character, a worse human being,” Sweeney said.
Ian Maxwell said his sister’s relationship with Epstein developed after the family advised her to stay in the United States because Maxwell’s name was “in the dirt” at home. He said that in the midst of the family’s financial and reputation problems, she had to make her own way in New York and make new friends.
Watch: 2019 news coverage of Jeffrey Epstein’s death
One of those was with Epstein, a teacher at one point who built his fortune on the back of contacts such as the former CEO of the parent company of lingerie retailer Victoria’s Secret.
Ian Maxwell said, “My dad was a tough guy – you know, alpha male, really. And when you have that kind of experience, we all, all brothers and sisters have had to deal with that somehow.” “Ghislaine was no exception. But then it’s clear, ‘Well, you know, he dies, and then you move on to the next rich guy.'” “I just don’t buy that.”
In sworn testimony in a previous civil case, Ghislaine Maxwell admitted she was romantically involved with Epstein, but said she later became his employee, tasking with things like hiring staff for his six homes.
During his testimony in April 2016, Maxwell said: “I have hired assistants, architects, interior designers, cooks, cleaners, gardeners, pool handlers, and pilots. A professional massage therapist for Jeffrey. As far as I’m concerned, everyone who came to his house was a professional massage therapist for Jeffrey. An adult professional.
But in 2005, Epstein was arrested in Palm Beach, Florida, and accused of hiring several underage girls—many students at a local high school—to perform sexual acts. He pleaded guilty to the charge of procuring a person under the age of 18 to engage in prostitution and spent 13 months in prison.
This was followed by years of civil lawsuits, in which women accused Epstein and Maxwell of sexual assault. New York prosecutors revived the case and accused Epstein of sex trafficking in 2019, but he killed himself in prison before facing trial.
WATCH: News coverage of Maxwell’s arrest in 2020
The indictment against Maxwell is based on accusations from four women who say she recruited them to provide Epstein massages that turned into sexual assault. One of them was only 14 years old at the time. Maxwell occasionally engaged in sexual encounters and was involved in paying at least one defendant, prosecutors allege.
Annie Farmer claims she was 16 when she was tricked into visiting Epstein’s ranch in New Mexico under the guise of attending an event for college students. But when I arrived, there were no other students. She said Maxwell tried to clean her up by taking her to the movies and shopping, and giving her unwanted massages while the teen was topless.
The Associated Press does not identify people who say they have been victims of sexual assault unless they come forward publicly. Although not identified by name in court documents, Farmer described her experience in interviews with ABC and The New York Times. When Maxwell – a national of the US, UK and France – asked for bail, Farmer asked the judge to deny it, calling her a “psychopath”.
“I don’t believe that … any of the women I exploited would achieve justice if they were released on bail,” Farmer wrote in a letter to the court. “She has lived a life of privilege, abusing her position of power to live outside the rules. Fleeing the country in order to escape again would be consistent with her long history of antisocial behaviour.”
Virginia Joffrey, who has brought a related civil case against Britain’s Prince Andrew but is not part of the criminal case, described Maxwell as the “Mary Poppins” character who made young girls feel comfortable while luring them into Epstein’s network.
Geoffrey claims that she was 17 years old when she was flown to London to have sex with Andrew at Maxwell’s house. Further confrontations with Andrew occurred at Epstein’s homes in Manhattan and the US Virgin Islands, according to her lawsuit. Andrew denies the allegations.
WATCH: Jeffrey Epstein’s accusers express outrage in New York court
Prosecutors say Maxwell hid after Epstein’s suicide, moved into a gated New Hampshire home she bought for $1 million — with a husband her lawyers refused to identify publicly — and wrapped her cell phone in foil to ward off hacking.
Her attorneys said in court papers that Maxwell was protecting herself from the press, an idea that U.S. District Judge Alison J. Nathan.
Nathan has repeatedly denied that Maxwell was released on bail, considering that the risk of her escaping was too great. The judge’s decision left Maxwell isolated in the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, confined to a small cell equipped with a toilet and a concrete bed. Ian Maxwell said prison was preventing his sister from getting a fair trial.
Ghislaine Maxwell has remained mostly silent about Epstein’s allegations for nearly two decades, but in a 2016 report in a civil case, she said she learned of the allegations against him “as well as everyone else, like the rest of the world, when it was made public. In newspapers.”
She said she had never seen Epstein get a massage from anyone under 18 and that no one had ever complained to her about asking Epstein to have sex.
“Never,” she said.
With Epstein gone and no clear records of the alleged incidents two decades earlier, the trial will likely hinge on the women’s allegations and Maxwell’s denial.
The jury will soon decide who to believe.
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