Ghislaine Maxwell finally has been arrested. We’ve all been waiting for this shoe to drop.
The onetime girlfriend and alleged accomplice of late Palm Beach millionaire sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein was charged July 2 with six criminal counts alleging she aided Epstein in his sexual abuse of teenage girls.
New York prosecutors should keep digging in South Florida and other parts of Epstein’s far-flung empire of perversion. We are convinced that he couldn’t have pulled it off without many others enabling his depravity, and no one was closer to him than Maxwell.
The same prosecutors — and Epstein victims who spoke exclusively to Miami Herald reporter Julie Brown for the paper’s award-winning “Perversion of Justice” investigation — said Maxwell was more than just Epstein’s girlfriend. Between 1994 and 1997, they say she was a fixer, facilitator and participant in the scheme Epstein ran to keep Palm Beach high school girls visiting his home with the promise of $200 for a massage, a ruse to sexually abuse them.
Epstein’s waterfront mansion of horrors housed this enterprise, and Maxwell was his accomplice, at times taking part in the sexual abuse of the girls she helped recruit, prosecutors alleged when they unsealed the indictment and arrested her in New Hampshire. They say she “normalized” the abuse by helping put the girls at ease during sex acts. If this is proved in court, she should get hard time.
The door into Epstein’s dark world that closed when he was found dead in a New York jail last year while awaiting trial for new charges of trafficking girls could swing wide open. Maxwell’s arrest offers prosecutors the possibility of an insider’s knowledge of the extent of Epstein’s human trafficking.
Maxwell knows names, times and places. If the feds squeeze her in exchange for some leniency, she might just talk about how, as prosecutors suspect, Epstein loaned out girls to famous friends as he flew them around in private jets. They are culpable, too, and should receive harsh punishment as well, if guilty.
Already the association with Epstein, who used money and influence to move in heady social circles, including the current president, a former president and a British prince, has embarrassed universities that accepted his donations, along with politicians, prominent attorneys and CEOs.
A legal deal brokered by federal prosecutors in Miami that allowed Epstein in 2008 to plead down to charges of soliciting prostitution, instead of sexual assault, eventually caught up with Alex Acosta, then a U.S. attorney. Last year, Acosta, then secretary of Labor resigned under pressure. As the U.S. attorney for the Southern District more than a decade ago, he gifted Epstein with what Herald reporter Brown called “the deal of a lifetime.” Epstein was sentenced to only 13 months in a relatively comfortable jail with work-release privileges and, reportedly, sexual privileges in his office.
British socialite Maxwell started dating Epstein in the ’90s and opened doors to people of influence for him — Britain’s Prince Andrew, among them. The prince is also embroiled in the sex scandal, with one victim alleging she had sex with him at Epstein’s request.
Epstein’s victims still are navigating a winding road to restitution and justice. With Maxwell under arrest, prosecutors should make sure that whatever she knows gets the victims closer to that goal.
Today’s editorial is from The Miami Herald. The views expressed are not necessarily those of this newspaper.