NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) - Ghislaine Maxwell, a British socialite who was accused by many women of helping procure underage sex partners for Jeffrey Epstein, was arrested Thursday in New Hampshire, the FBI said.
Maxwell, who lived for years with Epstein and was his frequent travel companion on trips around the world, was taken into custody around 8:30 a.m., said FBI spokesman Marty Feely.
"Today we announce the arrest of one of the villains," said William Sweeney, Jr., FBI assistant director in charge. "We have been discreetly keeping tabs on Maxwell's whereabouts and 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 with the trauma inflicted on them years ago."
Maxwell was arrested without incident and faces six counts for her alleged role in the sexual abuse of girls as young as 14.
Prosecutors announced the indictment in New York.
"Maxwell enticed minor girls, got them to trust her, then delivered them into the trap that she and Epstein had set for them," Audrey Strauss, acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said Thursday. "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."
The indictment say Maxwell, Epstein's former girlfriend, would befriend the victims by taking them shopping or to the movies, and that in some instances, Maxwell was present for - and participated in - the sexual abuse of minor victims.
"Maxwell's presence as an adult woman helped put the victims at ease," Strauss said.
The indictment describes events between 1994 and 1997, taking place at Epstein's homes in Manhattan, Florida and New Mexico, as well as at Maxwell's home in London. The daughter of a famous British tycoon, Maxwell is also charged with perjury.
"Maxwell lied because the truth as alleged was almost unspeakable," Strauss said.
Among the most sensational accusations was a claim by one Epstein victim, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, that Maxwell arranged for her to have sex with Britain's Prince Andrew at her London townhouse. Giuffre bolstered her allegations with a picture of her, Andrew and Giuffre that she said was taken at the time.
Andrew denied her story.
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.
Maxwell has previously denied any wrongdoing.
Epstein killed himself at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in lower Manhattan last summer while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges. Some of the crimes allegedly took place at his Upper East Side home.
Maxwell is expected to be arraigned in a Manhattan federal court, likely next week.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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