Revealed: how Ghislaine Maxwell fought those who accused her over Jeffrey Epstein

Socialite’s lawyers combed through life of billionaire’s alleged abuse victim when she was sued for libel

The lengths to which Ghislaine Maxwell went to contest allegations that she conspired with Jeffrey Epstein to groom underage girls for sex is laid bare in an analysis of hundreds of pages of legal documents unsealed this month.

The documents form part of a defamation action brought four years ago by Virginia Giuffre, who alleged that the British socialite was instrumental in grooming her to become one of his underage “sex slaves”, allegations Maxwell has previously denied. Giuffre accused Maxwell of libelling her by calling her a liar in public.

The most explosive claims made in the documents, which centre on powerful individuals with whom Giuffre says she was forced to have sex, produced lurid headlines following Epstein’s death on 10 August.

Now, lawyers for the alleged victims have switched attention to the financier’s associates, including Maxwell, whose whereabouts are now the subject of intense speculation after a photo of her at a burger bar in Hollywood, apparently taken last Monday, was published by newspapers.

As speculation mounts about her relationship with Epstein, whose death was officially recorded on Friday as a suicide, the documents provide an insight into the tactics Maxwell employed against the woman who took legal action against her. Maxwell’s team sought to have Giuffre’s claim struck out, and the case ultimately ended in a settlement.

The court papers reveal that Maxwell’s defence team combed over Giuffre’s personal relationships, medical history, work and education. Giuffre’s legal team say that the views of law enforcement officials were misrepresented while incriminating testimonies from key staff in Epstein’s mansion and other witnesses were ignored or dismissed.

Prince Andrew and Virginia Giuffre in 2001 at Ghislaine Maxwell’s house in London.
Prince Andrew and Virginia Giuffre in 2001 at Ghislaine Maxwell’s house in London. Photograph: Rex/Shutterstock

Giuffre’s employment records – as a waitress and working at an animal hospital – were requested and then submitted to court in a bid to prove she could not have been Epstein’s “sex slave” because she was “gainfully employed”. Her school attendance records were also submitted to the US court hearing the case in an effort to contest her claims about when she was at Epstein’s mansion.

Maxwell’s lawyers claimed that the police had found no evidence against Maxwell when they carried out their original investigation into Epstein more than a decade ago. They stated that Detective Joseph Recarey, who led the investigation, had “failed to uncover any evidence that Ms Maxwell was involved in sexual abuse of minors, sexual trafficking or production or possession of child pornography”.

But Giuffre’s lawyers asserted in court documents: “Detective Recarey knew that Maxwell was involved in the illegal sexual activities at Epstein’s house. He wanted to speak to her, but Maxwell did not return his calls.”

They also pointed to testimony from Alfredo Rodriguez, Epstein’s butler, who said that “Maxwell kept a list of the local girls who were giving massages at her desk, and that Maxwell kept nude photos of girls on her computer”. And they claimed: “It is an undisputed fact that [housekeeper] Juan Alessi testified that Defendant [Maxwell] was one of the people who procured some of the over 100 girls he witnessed visit Epstein.”

Computers containing the alleged photographs were apparently removed before Epstein’s home was raided. “Recarey testified that when the search warrant was executed, the house had been sanitized and the computers removed from the home,” the legal papers claim.

Testimonies dismissed by Maxwell’s lawyers included that of Tony Figueroa, Giuffre’s former boyfriend. Figueroa had testified that “Maxwell personally requested that he find and bring girls to Epstein for sex.”

A butler for a close friend of Maxwell also said he had witnessed, first-hand, “a 15-year-old Swedish girl crying and shaking because Defendant [Maxwell] was attempting to force her to have sex with Epstein and she refused”, according to the documents. The papers allege: “This is a fraction of the testimony that will be elicited at trial about Defendant’s involvement in the sexual abuse and trafficking of Ms Giuffre.”

The documents suggest a central plank of Maxwell’s defence was to emphasise that Giuffre had sought out the media for money and had formed a victims’ charity to attract publicity – claims Giuffre’s lawyers rejected, arguing it was the media who approached her. Maxwell’s lawyers also suggested the fact Giuffre had “lied to and cheated on” her high school boyfriend was all “relevant in this defamation case concerning her reputation, purported damage to such reputation, and whether she was a known liar”.

Their efforts to distance Maxwell from Giuffre were undermined by the production of flight logs revealing that Maxwell had shared at least 23 flights with the teenager.


Jamie Doward

The GuardianTramp

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