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Ghislaine Maxwell arrested for grooming girls as young as 14 for Jeffrey Epstein

GHISLAINE MAXWELL, a British socialite and ex-girlfriend of convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, has been arrested by the FBI for ‘her role in the sexual exploitation and abuse’ of girls as young as 14.

Maxwell (pictured), the daughter of late British media magnate Robert Maxwell, was detained in New Hampshire today.

Speaking at a press conference this evening, New York southern district prosecutor Audrey Strauss said: ‘[Maxwell] was among his [Epstein’s] closest associates and helped him exploit girls that were as young as 14 years old.

‘Maxwell played a critical role in helping identify, groom victims for abuse.

‘In some cases Maxwell participated in the abuse herself.

‘Maxwell would discuss sexual acts with the victim, discuss sex acts, undress or be present.

‘Her presence as an adult woman helps put the victim at ease.’

Disgraced: The late financier Jeffrey Epstein

Maxwell is accused of luring the girls by asking them about their lives, schools and families and taking them shopping or to movies.

After Maxwell won the girls’ trust, the indictment alleges, she would try to ‘normalize sexual abuse’ by discussing sexual topics or by undressing in front of them or being present when they were undressed.

The indictment alleges that Maxwell was well aware of Epstein’s preference for minor girls and that he intended to sexually abuse them.

Epstein’s alleged abuse included touching their genitals, placing sex toys on their genitals and having the girls touch Epstein while he masturbated.

Maxwell also encouraged the young girls to massage Epstein, and in some cases, the victims were partially or fully nude during the massages, according to the indictment.

Maxwell has previously denied any wrongdoing or knowledge of sexual misconduct by the disgraced financier, who took his own life in prison last year while awaiting trial on sex trafficking and conspiracy charges.

One of Epstein’s alleged victims, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, claims that Maxwell arranged for her to have sex with the Duke of York at the socialite’s London townhouse.

Ms Giuffre has claimed she was trafficked by Epstein and alleges the duke had sex with her on three separate occasions, including when she was 17 — still a minor under US law.

Prince Andrew, who categorically denies he had any form of sexual contact or relationship with Ms Giuffre, stepped down from royal life last year after a disastrous Newsnight interview about his relationship with Epstein.

He has faced repeated calls to talk to the FBI and US prosecutors still investigating Epstein, while a row emerged in June over the duke’s availability to answer questions about the disgraced financier.

The duke’s legal team said that Andrew had made three offers to give a witness statement to investigators.

Denial: Prince Andrew is adamant he has done nothing wrong, despite being pictured with Virginia Roberts, aged 17, and Maxell in 2001

In a statement on Twitter, the attorney’s office said: ‘There will be a press conference today at noon to announce charges against Ghislaine Maxwell for her role in the sexual exploitation and abuse of multiple minor girls by Jeffrey Epstein.’

An indictment made public on today said Maxwell facilitated Epstein’s crimes by ‘helping Epstein to recruit, groom, and ultimately abuse’ girls as young as 14.

The socialite faces counts of conspiracy to entice minors to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, enticement of a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, conspiracy to transport minors with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, and transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity.

She also faces two counts of perjury, while the indictment says Maxwell repeatedly lied when questioned about her conduct.

Maxwel lived with Epstein for years and was his frequent travel companion on trips around the world.

Travelling companion: Maxwell accompanied Epstein on many trips

She has previously repeatedly denied wrongdoing and called some of the claims against her ‘absolute rubbish’.

Maxwell was described in a lawsuit by another Epstein victim, Sarah Ransome, as the ‘highest-ranking employee’ of Epstein’s alleged sex trafficking enterprise.

She oversaw and trained recruiters, developed recruiting plans and helped conceal the activity from law enforcement, the lawsuit alleged.