Ghislaine Maxwell: The events that led to the sophisticated socialite being convicted of sex trafficking

Ghislaine Maxwell was once a “sophisticated” and “very impressive” British socialite until her affiliation with disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein led to her detention for sex trafficking.

The daughter of disgraced media tycoon Robert Maxwell, the 60-year-old attempted to start a new life in Manhattan after his death in 1991 and met Epstein the following year.

Mr Maxwell was found drowned after apparently falling from his yacht – called Lady Ghislaine – off the Tenerife coast.

His sons, Ian and Kevin Maxwell, who were on the board of the Maxwell Communication Corporation, were investigated after their father’s death over an alleged conspiracy to defraud the company’s pension fund. Both were cleared of fraud in 1996.

Despite attempts from Maxwell’s defence counsel to distance her from Epstein, a vast array of photographs of the pair in a variety of exotic locations surfaced during her trial – with images of her massaging the convicted sex offender’s feet suggesting a close relationship.

Her trial in a federal court in the Southern District of New York heard the pair bragged about being friends with high-profile figures, including former US president Donald Trump.

With the fortune he made from his financial dealings, Epstein and Maxwell lived a life of luxury jetting around the world and living at the millionaire’s many properties: including a Manhattan town house, his Palm Beach mansion, a ranch in New Mexico and his private island in the US Virgin Islands.

Maxwell’s friends also included royalty. She had known the Duke of York since her days at university and introduced Andrew to her former partner, Epstein.

In a Newsnight interview, Andrew admitted he organised a shooting weekend for the defendant at the Queen’s Sandringham Estate.

In 2000, he was pictured in Thailand attending a “hooker and pimps” party with Maxwell.

But an allegation he had sex with Virginia Roberts on three separate occasions – once allegedly at Maxwell’s Belgravia home – ultimately damaged his reputation.

The defendant was featured in the background of a picture which apparently showed Andrew with his arm around the waist of Ms Roberts, also known as Virginia Giuffre.

The duke categorically denies he had any form of sexual contact or relationship with Ms Roberts.

Epstein was convicted in 2008 of soliciting and procuring a minor for prostitution, and Maxwell was arrested in New Hampshire on July 3 last year.

Her trial heard how she summoned a 14-year-old girl to an orgy, groped another teenager and laid a schoolgirl outfit out for another accuser before a sexualised massage with Epstein because she “thought it would be fun”.

Epstein killed himself in a federal detention centre in New York in August 2019 while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.

In her opening statement to the jury, Lara Pomerantz, United States Assistant Attorney, said of Maxwell: “She preyed on vulnerable young girls, manipulated them and served them up to be sexually abused.

“The defendant was trafficking kids for sex. That is what this trial is all about.”

Defending the socialite, her counsel, Bobbi Sternheim, told the jury: “The charges against Ghislaine Maxwell are for things Jeffrey Epstein did.

“But she is not Jeffrey Epstein.”

Maxwell denied all charges but was ultimately convicted on five of six counts by a jury just after Christmas and her 60th birthday.

Events leading up to Ghislaine Maxwell’s conviction on sex trafficking charges

Socialite Ghislaine Maxwell has enjoyed a life of money and privilege, rubbing shoulders with A-list stars and royalty.

Here is a timeline of the events that led her to a New York courtroom to face sex trafficking charges.

1961 to 1980s

Born not far from Paris, Maxwell spent her childhood at her family’s sprawling mansion, Headington Hill Hall in Oxfordshire.

She attended the exclusive Marlborough College – one of the most expensive public schools in the UK – before studying at Balliol College, Oxford.

After graduation, Maxwell held various posts in her father’s companies and was a prominent figure on the London social scene.


November 5: Maxwell’s father Robert Maxwell dies after falling from his yacht, Lady Ghislaine, near the Canary Islands.


Maxwell reportedly meets financier Jeffrey Epstein for the first time at a party in New York.


The date accuser Jane says she met Maxwell for the first time while sat at a picnic table at a summer arts camp.

The court heard Jane’s sexual contact with Epstein began later that year at the age of 14.

Accuser Kate meets Maxwell for the first time in Paris at the age of 17.

Kate goes to Maxwell’s London townhouse and rubbed Epstein’s shoulders two weeks later.


December: Accuser Annie Farmer meets Epstein while visiting her sister Maria in New York.


April: Annie Farmer visits Epstein’s New Mexico house where Maxwell told her to undress and rubbed her breasts during a massage.

November 11: Epstein’s former pilot David Rodgers makes first record of Jane flying on Epstein’s private plane.


October: Epstein wires 18.3 million dollars to Maxwell.


The Duke of York and Maxwell were seen on holiday with Epstein at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida.

Epstein and Maxwell attend a party at Windsor Castle hosted by the Queen to mark Andrew’s 40th birthday, the Princess Royal’s 50th, the Queen Mother’s 100th and Princess Margaret’s 70th.

December 11: Mr Rodgers makes first record of Virginia Roberts flying on Epstein’s private plane.


Virginia Roberts, also known as Virginia Giuffre, was groomed by Epstein between 2000 and 2002.

She claims she was forced to have sex with Andrew three times in 2001, with the first encounter allegedly taking place in Maxwell’s London townhouse.

Ms Roberts claims to have had sex with Andrew on two more occasions, at Epstein’s New York home and at an “orgy” on his private island in the Caribbean.

She does not go public with her allegations until 2010.

The duke has categorically denied he had any form of sexual contact or relationship with Ms Giuffre.

September 17: Hard drives seized from Epstein’s New York home in 2019 show a computer account linked to Maxwell created an advert for a massage therapist on this date.

Accuser Carolyn meets Virginia Roberts and around two weeks later is taken to meet Epstein for the first time at the age of 14.


March: Carolyn pauses her visits to Epstein after becoming a mother.


Police receive their first complaint about Epstein for sexual abuse of minors and an early FBI investigation identifies around 40 victims.


Despite the growing mountain of evidence against Epstein, US prosecutors bring just one charge of soliciting prostitution from an under-age girl, for which he served just 13 months of an 18-month prison sentence.


Carolyn sues Epstein and is awarded 250,000 dollars.


Following Epstein’s release from jail, the Duke of York is photographed with him in New York’s Central Park.

Further footage emerges years later, reportedly shot on December 6 2010, showing him inside Epstein’s Manhattan mansion, from where he is seen looking out from a large door at the property.


Kate testifies this was the last time she had contact with Epstein.


July 6: Epstein is arrested in New Jersey, accused of trafficking under-age girls for sex.

August 10: Epstein is found dead in his prison cell

Maxwell maintains a low profile, and is rumoured to be staying at the home of a former partner in a small coastal town in Massachusetts.

Five days after Epstein’s death photos emerge of Maxwell apparently dining in a fast food restaurant in Los Angeles, although the pictures are later exposed as fakes.


July 3: Maxwell is arrested in New Hampshire.


April 23: Maxwell appears in court for the first time and is denied bail.

November 29: The trial at a federal court in the Southern District of New York begins.

December 25: Maxwell spends her 60th birthday behind bars, awaiting her fate.

December 29: Maxwell is found guilty on five of the six charges she faced.

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