Who is Ghislaine Maxwell, the woman accused of procuring young girls for Jeffery Epstein?
'Through her, he was able to move in these rarefied circles,' says reporter Daniel Bates
This article was originally published on Aug. 16, 2019. On July 2, 2020, Ghislaine Maxwell was taken into FBI custody. According to the agency's 17-page indictment, Maxwell is accused of helping convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein "to recruit, groom and ultimately abuse" girls as young as 14 in the mid-1990s.
After accused sex trafficker Jeffery Epstein died by suicide in a New York City jail last weekend, both prosecutors and the public have turned their attention to his associates.
U.S. Attorney General William Barr, speaking to reporters on Monday, said Epstein's co-conspirators "should not rest easy."
Two days later, one of Epstein's accusers sued his estate, as well as people she alleges helped his trafficking operation.
One of those people is Ghislaine Maxwell, a British socialite and Epstein's former girlfriend. Maxwell is accused of procuring young girls for Epstein, promising them that he is wealthy benefactor who will help advance their careers.
Freelance writer Daniel Bates has been reporting on Epstein's associates.
He told Day 6 host Brent Bambury that Maxwell is a mysterious figure who introduced Epstein to the higher echelons of New York's society.
Here's part of their conversation.
New documents were unsealed in court last week. What was in those documents that might put the spotlight back on Ghislaine Maxwell?
There was 2,000 pages of documents spread over a number of filings with the court and there were lots and lots of depositions outlining Ghislaine Maxwell's alleged involvement in this.
Essentially, they painted the portrait of someone who was deeply involved in this alleged abuse — administering it, arranging for girls to come.
A former housekeeper of Epstein's house in Palm Beach described her as the madame of the house. So it really puts things back on Ghislaine and it shows that she was allegedly utterly central to this sex trafficking operation.
And how did that relationship with Epstein evolve? How did she become so central?
It's curious. I mean, she moved to America, I think in the early 1990s, around about the time her father, Robert Maxwell, died. [He] ... fell off his boat in the Canary Islands under mysterious circumstances.
They [Maxwell and Epstein] became friends and then they became lovers, and then they remained very, very close. And it seems like this alleged operation that they ran sort of grew out of that.
And there's a lot of mystery as to what was the exact nature of their relationship. If the allegations are to be believed, then there was clearly a sexual element, but there may have been a financial element as well.
But it's very murky as to what bound them together. But what's clear, again according to the allegations in the depositions, is that they essentially formed a kind of sex trafficking enterprise to recruit underage girls.
Ghislaine would recruit women, or recruit recruiters, who would then recruit other young girls, and that's how it sort of worked, all in the service of this guy's sexual needs.
Epstein was a middle-class person from the outer boroughs of New York City. She comes from this well-known family in the U.K. As you mentioned Robert Maxwell was her father — enormous wealth and then eventually enormous corruption attached to that family.
What do you think we should know about her background? What strikes you about her upbringing and background?
What's interesting for me about her upbringing is the similarities between Jeffrey Epstein and her dad. When her father died, she lost a wealthy, shadowy, larger-than-life benefactor. He was also her sort of patron and protector.
She was his favourite daughter. He named the boat that he fell off "Lady Ghislaine."
From there, she moves on to Jeffrey Epstein who she seems to kind of remake into a kind of version of her father. But before he met Ghislaine, his tastes were not refined. He did not have elegant furnishings or anything like that.
I think she kind of granted him this sort of access into the upper echelons of society and, through her, he was able to move in these rarefied circles.
In exchange, she sort of got an equivalent, a partner. So there's a very, very strong parallel between, I think, the role Epstein played in her life and the role that her father did.
I would expect some of the co-conspirators will be indicted. I think the pressure from the top is so intense on this one that they're going to have to move.- Daniel Bates
Here's this well-educated, well-connected person with lots of connections to influential people. Why risk it all by allegedly being involved in illegal activities?
It's a very, very good question. It seems like, in some ways, a real waste of someone who could have done immense good for the world.
I mean, she seems like a fantastic networker. People I've spoken to who've met her said she's very, very good with people. She's obviously very persuasive.
Those powers of persuasion, if they were deployed for something good, could have done great good for the world. Instead they're used for these supposedly nefarious, horrible ends.
So I don't know. It's baffling to me as to why she would take this path.
We heard Attorney General Barr talk about how the co-conspirators of Jeffrey Epstein should not rest easy. If Ghislaine Maxwell has so many accusers, why do you think the police haven't charged her yet?
I think that they're probably still in a bit of a state of shock about the fact that Jeffrey Epstein is dead, right, and I think they're still figuring out what to do.
The whole case and the whole prosecution was geared toward him. And I think now it's going to take some time before they're able to pivot and potentially indict someone else. And you know, I would imagine the pressure coming down from Bill Barr is immense.
I would expect some of the co-conspirators will be indicted. I think the pressure from the top is so intense on this one that they're going to have to move. But it's going to take a bit of time.
This Q&A has been edited for length and clarity. To hear the full interview with Daniel Bates, download our podcast or click 'Listen' above.