herald

Sunday 26 January 2020

FBI probes Maxwell over 'facilitation' of Epstein sex crimes

Ghislaine Maxwell was an associate of Jeffrey Epstein
Ghislaine Maxwell was an associate of Jeffrey Epstein

The FBI is investigating British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell and several other people linked to Jeffrey Epstein, according to two law enforcement sources familiar with the investigation.

They said a principal focus of the FBI's investigation is Ms Maxwell, a long-time associate of the paedophile financier, and other "people who facilitated" his allegedly illegal behaviour.

Ms Maxwell has not been accused of criminal wrongdoing. Her lawyers did not respond to a request for comment.

Hotline

The FBI is also following up on many leads received from women who contacted a hotline set up in the wake of Epstein's arrest in July, the sources said.

One of the sources said the probe remains at an early stage.

The sources declined to identify the people they are looking at apart from Ms Maxwell.

However, they said the FBI has no current plans to interview Britain's Prince Andrew, a friend of Epstein's who stepped down from his public duties last month because of his "ill-judged" association with the money manager.

A spokeswoman for the FBI declined to comment.

Epstein's suicide in August, at age 66, came a little over a month after he was arrested and charged with trafficking dozens of underage girls as young as 14 from at least 2002 to 2005. Prosecutors said he recruited girls to give him massages, which became sexual.

He had pleaded not guilty.

After Epstein's arrest, the FBI urged anyone who had been victimised or had additional information to call a hotline.

The sources said they had received numerous tips from the hotline.

Virginia Giuffre, one of Epstein's alleged victims, has said in a civil lawsuit that Ms Maxwell recruited her into Epstein's circle, which led to her being forced to have sex with the British prince. Andrew denies this, as does Ms Maxwell.

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