Jul 2, 2020
Announcement Transcript of Charges Against Ghislaine Maxwell in New York: Jeffrey Epstein Associate Arrested
On July 2, New York officials announced charges against Ghislaine Maxwell, who was arrested by the FBI. Prosecutors allege Maxwell helped Jeffrey Epstein traffic and abuse underage girls. Read the transcript of the announcement & press conference here.
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Audrey Strauss: (00:00)
Morning. My name is Audrey Strauss. I’m the acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Today, we announced charges against Ghislaine Maxwell for helping Jeffrey Epstein sexually exploit and abuse multiple minor girls from the period of 1994 through 1997. Maxwell has been taken into custody early this morning in New Hampshire, and will be presented this afternoon before a Magistrate Judge in the District of New Hampshire.
Audrey Strauss: (00:38)
You will recall that the indictment against Jeffrey Epstein that we filed in July 2019 charged Epstein with sexual abuse of young girls from 2002 through 2005. This case against Ghislaine Maxwell is the prequel to the earlier case that we brought against Jeffrey Epstein. As alleged, starting in 1994 until at least 1997, Maxwell had a personal and professional relationship with Jeffrey Epstein.
Audrey Strauss: (01:49)
Maxwell was among Epstein’s closest associates, and helped him exploit girls who were as young as 14 years old. Maxwell played a critical role in helping Epstein to identify, befriend and groom minor victims for abuse. In some cases, Maxwell participated in the abuse herself. As alleged, Maxwell and Epstein had a method. Typically, they would befriend these young girls by asking them questions about their lives, pretending to be taking an interest in them. They would take them to the movies and treat them to shopping trips. Maxwell would encourage these young girls to accept offers from Epstein to pay for their travel and their education, making these young victims feel indebted to Jeffrey Epstein.
Audrey Strauss: (02:48)
After developing a rapport with the victims, Maxwell then tried to normalize sexual abuse with a minor victim through a process as known as Grooming. For example, Maxwell would discuss sexual topics with the victim, and undress in front of the victim, or be present for sex acts involving the minor victims and Epstein. Maxwell’s presence as an adult woman helped put the victims at ease. As Maxwell and Epstein intended, this grooming process left the minor victims susceptible to sexual abuse. That abuse included sexualized massages during which the minor victim was fully or partially nude. These sexualized massages developed into sexual encounters, for which Maxwell in some instances was present and participated.
Audrey Strauss: (03:49)
Maxwell and Epstein worked together to entice these minor victims to travel to Epstein’s residences, depicted on the other chart at the front of the room: his residence in New York City on the Upper East Side, as well Palm Beach, Florida, and Santa Fe, New Mexico. Some of the acts of abuse also took place in Maxwell’s residence in London, England. In addition to allegedly enabling and participating in the sexual abuse of young victims, Maxwell compounded her crimes by repeatedly lying in 2016 when she was questioned under oath. We have charged those lies in two perjury counts.
Audrey Strauss: (04:42)
Maxwell lied because the truth, as alleged, was almost unspeakable. Maxwell enticed minor girls, got them to trust her, then delivered them into the trap that she and Epstein had set for them. She pretended to be a woman they could trust, all the while she was setting them up to be sexually abused by Epstein, and in some cases, by Maxwell herself. Today, after many years, Ghislaine Maxwell finally stands charged for her role in these crimes.
Audrey Strauss: (05:27)
These charges to be announced today, are the latest result of our investigation into Epstein, and the people around him who facilitated his abuse of minor victims. That investigation remains ongoing. My office and the FBI remain committed to doing all within our ability to bring justice to individuals who enabled, facilitated and participated in the acts of abuse. Combating the exploitation of children is a priority of our office. We are committed to pursuing and prosecuting those who exploit and abuse minors in this case, and in every case. To that end, I want to say to anyone who is watching or hears about this prosecution, if you believe you are a victim of Jeffrey Epstein or Ghislaine Maxwell, or anyone else who helped them, regardless of when it occurred, or have information about the conduct alleged in the indictment unsealed today, please let us know.
Audrey Strauss: (06:31)
You can reach the FBI and have access to Victim and Witness Services by calling us at 1-800-CALLFBI. To my left is William Sweeney, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s field office. Also to my left is Commissioner Dermot Shea, and Chief of Detectives, Rodney Harrison. I want to thank them and their teams for their dedication and professionalism in seeing this investigation through to the end.
Audrey Strauss: (07:04)
I also want to acknowledge and thank the career prosecutors of my office, who are handling the investigation and prosecution of this case: Alex Ross Miller, Maurene Comey, and Alison Moe. I want to also thank their chiefs, Russell Capone, and Edward Diskant, the Chiefs of the Public Corruption Unit. Finally, I want to thank and commend the brave women who are willing to come forward decades after their abuse, and tell us what happened to them, without whom these charges could not have been brought today. We thank them for their courage, and we are proud to stand here on their behalf in bringing this case.
Audrey Strauss: (07:47)
I now want to invite up our good friend, Assistant Director Bill Sweeney.
Bill Sweeney: (08:02)
Thank you. Thank you, Audrey. Almost one year ago when our offices stood before you and announced the arrest of Jeffrey Epstein, I stated that preserving the innocence of children is among the most important responsibilities we carry as adults. Too often, adults in our society have turned a blind eye to the type of criminal behavior that we announced back then, and announce again today. The villains in these outrageous crimes are the adult perpetrators, not the youth who are our neighbors, our students, vulnerable foster children, and teens seeking support.
Bill Sweeney: (08:37)
Today, we announced the arrest of one of the villains in this investigation. Early this morning, Ghislaine Maxwell was arrested in Bradford, New Hampshire by FBI Special Agents and NYPD detectives from the FBI and NYPD Crimes Against Children Task Force. Our team from New York was assisted by Special Agents assigned to our Boston, Newark, New Haven, and Albany field offices. We have been discretely keeping tabs on Maxwell’s whereabouts as we work this investigation. More recently, we learned she had slithered away to a gorgeous property in New Hampshire continuing to live a life of privilege, while her victims live the trauma inflicted upon them years ago. We moved when we were ready, and Ms. Maxwell was arrested without incident.
Bill Sweeney: (09:21)
Like Epstein, Ms. Maxwell chose to blatantly disregard the law and her responsibility as an adult, using whatever means she had at her disposal to lure vulnerable youth into behavior they should never have been exposed, and which creates lasting harm. We allege that from at least 1994 through at least 1997, Ms. Maxwell assisted Jeffrey Epstein’s abuse of minor girls by helping to recruit, entice, groom and abuse children under the age of 18. She befriended the innocent, attempted to normalize sexual abuse, and worked to put victims at ease, aware the entire time of the abuse that would follow. When questioned about her conduct in 2016, we allege Ms. Maxwell lied under oath.
Bill Sweeney: (10:07)
I’d like to take a moment again to speak directly to the victims. There never was, nor shall there be, an excuse for the criminal behavior you were subjected to. We know that your quest for justice has been met with great disappointment, and that reliving these events is traumatic. When we met you, we told you that in the eyes of the FBI you come first. I would like to thank you for the trust you placed in our investigative teams as we work to hold the adult perpetrators accountable.
Bill Sweeney: (10:34)
For the many victims of other adult perpetrators who may be listening, or get word of today’s announcement, the example set by the women involved in this investigation has been a powerful one. They persevered against the rich and the connected, and they did so without a badge, a gun, or a subpoena, and they stood together. I have no doubt the bravery exhibited by the women in this investigation has empowered others to speak up about the crimes that they have been subjected to. If you are listening today and are the victim of child sex trafficking, please call 1-800-CALLFBI or contact us online at tips.fbi.gov.
Bill Sweeney: (11:14)
If you are an adult who believes a child or a teen is being exploited, or believe a child or a teen has exhibited signs of exploitation, please contact law enforcement. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s website is a great resource for information about the indicators of sex trafficking. Take a few minutes to educate yourself. Click on the Issue section of that website. Take a moment to learn how to spot the vulnerable, and protect them. The website is missingkids.org.
Bill Sweeney: (11:46)
Finally, I want to extend my sincere thanks to the Task Force in New York, the leadership and the prosecutors of the Southern District of New York. You have quietly and professionally executed your mission as public servants, advocating for the most vulnerable in society and holding perpetrators accountable regardless of their perceived wealth, connections, or the passage of time. Thank you for putting the victims first.
Bill Sweeney: (12:11)
I’m going to turn it over to Commissioner Shea.
Dermot F. Shea: (12:20)
Good afternoon, everyone. Audrey and Bill, thank you for the opportunity to speak here today. I’ll echo really their words. In my view, we are here for one reason today, and one reason only: for the victims, for the survivors of these heinous crimes. I will remind everyone that although we are talking about periods of time 20 or close to 30 years in the past, for the victims, the survivors of these sexual assaults, these crimes are as fresh today, and the impact that they caused on their psyche as they were then. I want to take a special moment to thank Chief Rodney Harrison and the men and women of the New York City Police Department that worked on this case hand in hand with Bill Sweeney’s Special Agents. Thank you.
Audrey Strauss: (13:06)
Okay, I’ll take questions. We’ll take questions.
Speaker 4: (13:09)
Audrey, quick question on the investigation. How long have you been tracking Ms. Maxwell, and when was this indictment originally filed? If you could just kind of give us a sense of what it was like to track her, or if at any point you lost track of her. What was going on with [inaudible 00:13:27]?
Audrey Strauss: (13:27)
I think that Bill Sweeney has given you a sense of that. An eye was being kept, and information was being collected, and then the indictment was just recently voted and filed. That was when we were able and prepared to move to arrest her.
Audrey Strauss: (14:00)
I’m not going to comment on anyone’s status in this investigation, but I will say that we would welcome Prince Andrew coming in to talk with us. We would like to have the benefit of his statement.
Speaker 5: (14:14)
Audrey Strauss: (14:18)
Yeah, I have no further comment beyond what I just said, which is that our doors remain open as we’ve previously said, and we would welcome him coming in and giving us an opportunity to hear his statement.
Audrey Strauss: (14:31)
Speaker 6: (14:36)
Why now? Why [inaudible 00:14:37]?
Audrey Strauss: (14:36)
We were working hard on this investigation this past year. It’s not easy to put together a case that goes back that far, but it was nothing other than we did the investigation and we were ready at this time to proceed.
Speaker 7: (14:57)
How long was she in New Hampshire?
Audrey Strauss: (14:57)
I couldn’t hear your question.
Speaker 7: (14:57)
How long has she been in New Hampshire?
Audrey Strauss: (15:00)
I’m not going to comment on that. I’m not going to comment on that.
Speaker 7: (15:03)
Where were all [inaudible 00:15:04] arrested? Is that her home? Was it someone else’s home?
Audrey Strauss: (15:08)
That’s who I will not comment on. That’s where we found her this morning.
Speaker 8: (15:14)
In making the decision to charge, you reached back to an era to the mid-90s. Is there any physical evidence, or is it merely the word of the women [inaudible 00:15:26]?
Audrey Strauss: (15:27)
Again, I won’t comment beyond the scope of the indictment. You can read the indictment and see the kind of allegations we made, and therefore the evidence that we will bring forward to prove those you can kind of figure out. But I’m not going to comment on the specific evidence in the case. That will be seen in the event that she goes to trial.
Speaker 9: (15:46)
Audrey, in the original indictment against Epstein and the allegations from the 2000s, [inaudible 00:15:52], can you speak to why there’s not overlap [inaudible 00:15:55]?
Audrey Strauss: (15:55)
That, I cannot speak to. You just see one indictment covers this one period, and the other covers the other. Whatever is not said, is not something I can speak to. It’s beyond the four corners of the indictment.
Speaker 10: (16:05)
Did the firing of Geoffrey Berman affect at all the timing of this arrest?
Audrey Strauss: (16:12)
Not at all. Not at all.
Speaker 11: (16:23)
Audrey, will your office be seeking to have Ms. Maxwell’s [inaudible 00:16:24] before trial? If so, [inaudible 00:16:24]?
Audrey Strauss: (16:28)
We will be seeking detention, and we are sensitive to that concern. Certainly, we’ll be in dialogue with the Bureau of Prisons about it.
Speaker 12: (16:38)
Speaker 13: (16:39)
The perjury charges, do you think will undermine her ability to use her testimony against [inaudible 00:16:45]? What do you think about that?
Audrey Strauss: (16:51)
This sometimes happens where there are perjury charges, and people can go on from there and become cooperators, if that’s what you’re asking. So, I’m not concerned about that in the event that she were to become a cooperator. I think that we can deal with that.
Speaker 13: (17:05)
Audrey, [crosstalk 00:17:05] besides New Hampshire?
Speaker 12: (17:05)
That’s it. Thank you everybody.
Speaker 13: (17:05)
Has she been tracked on [crosstalk 00:17:05]-
Audrey Strauss: (17:05)
Yeah, I’m not going to speak to that. We’re not going to talk about that.
Speaker 13: (17:14)
Audrey Strauss: (17:14)
Speaker 13: (17:19)
[inaudible 00:17:19] indictment yet?