British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell in spotlight after Epstein's apparent suicide

Maxwell is a former longtime member of Jeffrey Epstein's inner circle. He once called her his "best friend."

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By Erik Ortiz

The apparent suicide of Jeffrey Epstein, who was found unresponsive Saturday morning in his federal jail cell, is the latest stunning development in the case against the once-powerful financier on charges of sex trafficking.

His death came hours after the release of 2,000 pages of court documents, part of a related lawsuit, that revealed allegations that Epstein and a former longtime member of his inner circle, British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, ordered a teenage girl to have sex with high-powered men.

The U.S. prosecutor in Manhattan, where Epstein was held pending trial, said Saturday that the investigation into the charges in the indictment against him, including one count of conspiracy, will continue.

One person who could come under a greater focus is Maxwell.

Daughter of the late publishing mogul Robert Maxwell, she was a close friend and confidante of Epstein's after they were first romantically linked in the early 1990s, according to reports.

Her name resurfaced Friday after the release of the cache of court papers relating to a 2015 federal defamation lawsuit filed by Virginia Roberts Giuffre against Maxwell.

Giuffre, now 36, claims in a 2016 deposition in the court filings that Epstein and Maxwell groomed her to become a "sex slave" for high-powered men starting when she was 16.

The suit was settled out of court in 2017. The documents released Friday represent only a portion of the case file and offer limited context in many places.

Maxwell, who has not been charged with a crime, could not be reached for comment. Her lawyer also didn't return a request for comment upon release of the documents Friday.

Previously, in a motion to dismiss the suit, Maxwell's lawyers said Giuffre "produced no evidence substantiating any of her fantastical claims that she had been trafficked by Epstein, or by Maxwell, to any of these men or any others."

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Giuffre said in her deposition that she first met Maxwell in the summer of 2000 while working at the spa at Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida. Giuffre said her father was a maintenance worker at the future president's private club.

Trump socialized with Epstein in the 1990s and early 2000s, but Giuffre testified that she had no sexual contact with Trump and wasn't aware of him ever having relations with the other girls in Epstein's orbit.

Giuffre was reading a massage therapy book, she said, when Maxwell approached her, looking for someone who could give massages.

"I know somebody," Maxwell said, according to Giuffre. "We can train you. We can get you educated. You know, we can help you along the way if you pass the interview. If the guy likes you, then, you know, it will work out for you. You'll travel. You'll make good money."

Giuffre said she eventually met Epstein, and massages turned into sexual acts. She alleged that he and Maxwell also introduced her to other men for sexual encounters.

Giuffre claimed Maxwell directed her to travel and provide sexual services for high-profile men, including politicians, a modeling agent, a money manager, a "foreign president" and "a well-known prime minister."

"There's a whole bunch of them — it's just hard for me to remember," said Giuffre, according to the court filing. "My whole life revolved around just pleasing these men and keeping Ghislaine and Jeffrey happy. Their whole lives revolved around sex."

None of the men identified by Giuffre in the court papers have been charged with a crime or named in any civil suits linked to Epstein.

Maxwell has also been named in some other lawsuits along with Epstein by women alleging they were trafficked for sex.

Epstein's 'best friend'

Maxwell's father, a powerful publisher of British tabloids as well as the New York Daily News, died in 1991 after falling overboard from his yacht.

Ghislaine, who received an elite education that included studying at Oxford, was reportedly the favorite of her father's seven children and the namesake of his yacht, the "Lady Ghislaine."

After Robert Maxwell's death, it was revealed that he had used millions of pounds from his companies' pension funds toward keeping his companies afloat. The companies went into bankruptcy.

Ghislaine Maxwell left England for New York the same year her father died.

There, she became tabloid fodder in her own right. In 2000, the New York Post described how she had an "exquisite moment of triumph and redemption" when she sat in the front row of the Ralph Lauren show during Fashion Week and "all eyes were on her and the man at her side: Britain's Prince Andrew."

"As necks craned to see, as cameras flashed and motor drives whirred, the favorite child of the former New York Daily News owner smiled regally and quietly savored the attention," The Post wrote.

Through her exclusive connections, Maxwell ran in circles that included Epstein, who owned an Upper East Side townhouse and whom she began dating. A former manager of the home described Maxwell in a 2009 deposition as having been Epstein's "main girlfriend" in 1992, reported The Wall Street Journal.

Over the decades, she was photographed with Epstein often, including with Trump, and separately with former talk show host Charlie Rose, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Tesla CEO Elon Musk. In a 2003 Vanity Fair profile, Epstein said Maxwell was not on his payroll but helped to organize his life. He described her simply as his "best friend."

In 2007, Epstein reached a plea agreement with prosecutors in Florida. He served 13 months of an 18-month sentence for two state prostitution charges.

Nine years later, in 2016, Maxwell sold her townhouse in Manhattan for $15 million, The Post reported.

Since Epstein's high-profile arrest this year on the federal sex-trafficking charges, Maxwell has eluded the press.