Ghislaine Maxwell Arrested: Who Is Jeffrey Epstein's Former Girlfriend and Confidante?

Ghislaine Maxwell, the one-time girlfriend of Jeffrey Epstein accused of involvement in his alleged sexual crimes, was arrested by the FBI on Thursday, according to a report from News 4 New York. She was reportedly booked on charges related to the late, disgraced financier in New Hampshire and is expected to appear in a federal court on Thursday.

While there are a lot of people involved or implicated in the scandals surrounding Epstein — from employees to friends — one of the most important figures is Maxwell. Now, the public is trying to piece together an idea of who Maxwell is. The 58-year-old hails from France, and is the daughter of British publishing tycoon Robert Maxwell, who was accused of fraud in his time. A long-time socialite, Maxwell is often noted for her connections in high places over the last several decades. According to a report by The Times, she and Epstein first met in the early 1990s at a New York party.

There are reports that their relationship was romantic, though it is unclear. Former employees of Epstein's household described Maxwell as his "main girlfriend," according to a report by The Wall Street Journal. In another report by The Evening Standard, she was called an "aggressive assistant," but also the "Lady of the House." A report by New York Magazine last year referred to her as his madam.

Epstein himself called Maxwell "my best friend" in a 2003 profile by Vanity Fair. The interviewer, Vicky Ward, noted that Maxwell seemed "to organize much of his life," though it is unclear whether he ever hired her in any official capacity.

Whatever, the case, Maxwell is now in the spotlight for her alleged involvement in sex trafficking of underage girls at Epstein's behest. According to new court documents obtained by CNN in 2019, Virginia Roberts Giuffre implicated Maxwell in her allegations against Epstein. In a 2015 defamation case, she claimed that Epstein kept her as a "sex slave," with Maxwell's help. In those same documents, another woman testified to the abuse by both Epstein and Maxell.

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That case was settled in 2017, but it rose to prominence again when the case against Epstein made headlines. At the time, Maxwell's lawyers tried to portray Giuffre as an unreliable narrator, claiming that her entire story must be false because of errors with some dates and numbers in it. In August, Giuffre's attorney David Boies told reporters that her newly unsealed lawsuit "exposed for prosecutors, and now the public, the scope and scale and ugliness of the Epstein/Maxwell sex trafficking ring."

Maxwell began to cut ties with Epstein around 2008 when he was convicted of soliciting a minor for prostitution. He served 13 months in jail for the crime, and when he emerged he and Maxwell attended social functions separately. Maxwell retreated from public life starting in 2015. She has not commented publicly on Epstein's passing.