Defiant Ghislaine Maxwell has rounded on her accusers, insisting that her portrayal as a ‘cartoon caricature of a villain’ is utterly false.
Friends say that the 58-year-old socialite, who is scheduled to appear before a judge in New York on Tuesday to be formally charged with procuring girls as young as 14 for Jeffrey Epstein – the serial paedophile and her former boyfriend – ‘is no Cruella de Vil’.
Referring to the glamorous but evil character from the Disney film One Hundred And One Dalmatians, one friend told The Mail on Sunday: ‘This cartoon caricature of a villain she is being painted as is utterly untrue and false.
‘This is a real human being with real feelings.’
Ghislaine Maxwell, 58, has rounded on her accusers, insisting that her portrayal as a ‘cartoon caricature of a villain’ is utterly false
Breaking a year-long silence since Epstein’s death, sources close to Maxwell have gone on the offensive to put her side of the story.
After a year during which she was neither seen nor heard, her allies now reveal how she intends to salvage her liberty and reputation against claims that she supplied depraved Epstein with young girls.
Maxwell’s allies have told The Mail on Sunday that she:
- Is not the person who introduced billionaire Epstein to Prince Andrew;
- Fears dying of Covid-19 while in prison;
- Insists she and Epstein had not met in person for 15 years;
- Weeps over friends who have lost jobs because of their association with her;
- Has not had a haircut in a year and is being moved ‘from cell-to-cell’ for her own safety.
Maxwell is scheduled to appear before a judge in New York on Tuesday to be formally charged with procuring girls as young as 14 for Jeffrey Epstein – the serial paedophile and her former boyfriend
The daughter of the late newspaper tycoon Robert Maxwell will make global headlines on Tuesday when she appears in court via remote link from her New York jail cell.
She will be formally charged with sex offences between 1994 and 1997 and will plead not guilty to them all. Her lawyers will argue for her release from the high-security Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn on £4 million bail, arguing that her life is in danger from coronavirus and ‘multiple and credible’ death threats.
Maxwell, who is a long-time friend of Prince Andrew and who saw him most recently in 2019, was arrested at her £800,000 New Hampshire hideaway on July 2.
Prosecutor Audrey Strauss condemned her as ‘playing a critical role in finding and grooming victims’, while scores of Epstein’s victims claim that she acted as his ‘madam’, often driving from his £20 million mansion in Palm Beach, Florida, to nearby trailer parks to ‘procure’ vulnerable young girls for the paedophile.
But last night a source close to Maxwell hit back, saying: ‘Ghislaine is no Cruella de Vil. She is being portrayed as this evil character and a cartoon-like villain but she is nothing like that. She is a real person and is determined to prove her innocence despite the fact that she has been characterised as some sort of monster.’
Maxwell insists that her romance with Epstein ended in 2001 and that she did not see him in person after 2005 when she was photographed with him at a party.
At the time, she was dating billionaire Gateway computer founder Ted Waitt.
A source close to Maxwell hit back, saying: ‘Ghislaine is no Cruella de Vil’. Pictured: The character played by Glenn Close in the 1996 film 101 Dalmatians
‘The reality is that Ghislaine’s relationship with Epstein ended in 2001,’ says the friend. ‘Starting in late 2002, early 2003, she was dating Ted and she loved him deeply. Epstein kept trying to woo her back but she wasn’t interested.’
However, the friend adds, Maxwell continued to work for the twisted tycoon. ‘She hired Epstein’s pool guys, the IT guys.
‘She managed his household. They weren’t that close. It was a professional relationship.’
When Epstein negotiated an infamous plea deal, pleading guilty to two child sex prostitution charges in 2008 and serving just 13 months in prison – most on day release – Maxwell did not visit him in jail, friends insist.
Maxwell claims she is not the person who introduced billionaire Epstein to Prince Andrew (pictured above with Lady Lynn de Rothschild in Sydney)
Bail documents filed by Maxwell’s lawyers last week reveal that she believes she is covered by a clause in that plea deal that protects any ‘potential co-conspirators’ from prosecution.
The friend says: ‘Ghislaine never visited him in jail. People say the reason she did all these terrible things was for money, that she was a poor as a church mouse, but that’s not true. She was with Ted until 2011 and he’s worth three times what Epstein was worth.’
Maxwell also denies that she introduced her close friend Prince Andrew to Epstein, something her friends say ‘has been written in stone but is plain wrong’.
In fact, friends claim the introduction was made by glamorous socialite Lynn Forester de Rothschild in 1999 at a birthday party she threw for her British billionaire husband, Sir Evelyn de Rothschild, in the Hamptons, the exclusive beach resort outside New York.
‘Ghislaine wasn’t at that party. Lynn introduced Andrew to Epstein,’ says the friend. ‘It was all about the money with Andrew and Epstein. Just wait and see. There is a lot more to come out.’
In a 26-page court document filed in New York on Friday, Maxwell’s lawyers say her life is at risk in jail. It says: ‘The open season declared on Ms Maxwell after Epstein’s death has come with an even darker cost – she has been the target of alarming physical threats, even death threats.’
Noting a recent outbreak of Covid-19 at the prison which has struck down more than 50 prisoners and staff, the document adds: ‘Ms Maxwell is at significant risk of contracting Covid-19 if she is detained and she will not be able to meaningfully participate in her defence.’
Calls to Maxwell from lawyers and friends have ‘taken hours’ to reach her, it continues.
Friends say that Ms Maxwell adopted a cat and puppy during the year after Epstein’s suicide when she disappeared from public view. ‘She wasn’t on the run. Her team were in constant touch with her and in constant touch with authorities,’ the friend insists.
‘She was keeping a low-profile because every friend who is associated with her has been hurt. People have lost jobs, their kids have been bullied. That’s what hurts her the most. She doesn’t cry for herself but when her innocent friends are condemned merely by association with her, that breaks her heart.
‘Her family, her sisters and brothers are 100 per cent loyal. She is speaking only to family and her legal team. She became a recluse because it was too painful to watch those she loved suffer.
Socialite Maxwell, above in 2013, the daughter of the late British publishing magnate Robert Maxwell, is the former girlfriend and long-time close associate of Epstein
‘She is a kind person who loves animals. She’s adopted a cat and a mutt during the last year. She is a loving, kind person who has done none of the things she has been charged with.’
The words will enrage Maxwell’s many accusers and some will view the intervention of her friends as a cynical move. One of Epstein’s alleged victims, Virginia Roberts, has accused Maxwell of being ‘worse than Jeffrey’ and claims she used her English accent and charm to ‘ensnare’ vulnerable girls.
But sources close to Maxwell are critical of investigators. ‘Ghislaine’s legal team called the day after Epstein was arrested offering to co-operate fully,’ claims one.
‘Their calls were repeatedly ignored. She has never sought to flee. She wants her day in court. Her reputation is destroyed but she is determined to prove her innocence.’
In the bail documents, lawyers for Maxwell insist that ‘had the government alerted her counsel that she was about to be arrested, we would have arranged for Ms Maxwell’s prompt, voluntary surrender.
‘Instead, the government arrested Ms Maxwell without warning… thus ensuring that she would be in federal custody on the one-year anniversary of Epstein’s arrest’.
She’s ‘moved from cell to cell to stop someone trying to kill her’
Ghislaine Maxwell is being constantly moved from ‘cell to cell’ because prison authorities fear that someone will try to kill her.
The 58-year-old spent the first 24 hours after arriving at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, New York, last Monday in paper clothing to prevent her harming herself.
But insiders say the concern is now that someone will try to murder her.
‘Jeffrey Epstein died behind bars and they [the authorities] are terrified someone will try to kill Ghislaine,’ said a source.
‘She was initially given paper clothes to wear because she was a suicide risk but is now wearing a prison regulation khaki shirt and trousers.’
The source also revealed that her hair is longer and that she is far from the perfectly groomed socialite seen in photographs.
‘She has not had a hair cut in a year and there have been no manicures or pedicures,’ the source added.
‘She was in deep shock at first, but she is getting better each day. She is not a whiner or complainer.
She is also someone who isn’t posh or prissy. She is being moved from cell to cell and sometimes has a cellmate, sometimes not. They [the authorities] are terrified someone will try to kill her so they keep moving her around.
Ghislaine Maxwell (pictured with Jeffrey Epstein in 2005) is being constantly moved from ‘cell to cell’ because prison authorities fear that someone will try to kill her
‘Conditions are terrible at the jail and there’s an outbreak of Covid which could kill her. It’s impossible for her to talk to her lawyers or family in a timely way.
‘How can she prepare a defence when the lawyers can’t even get hold of her?’
The Mail on Sunday has obtained a copy of the 51-page prison ‘orientation’ handbook handed to all inmates, including Maxwell, when they are officially booked in.
The prison day starts at 6am with inmates ordered that ‘beds must be made by 7.30am’.
They are restricted to one pair of trainers ‘per year’ along with ‘one radio or MP3 player’.
Today her breakfast choices will be ‘grits, wholewheat toast and fruit’ .
Meanwhile, phone calls are limited to 15 minutes with a maximum of 300 minutes per month.
Like other prisoners, Maxwell could be searched by guards at any time ‘if there is suspicion of contraband or weapons’.
She is also banned from having any ‘nude or sexually suggestive’ photos.
Terrified and injured, her cat went missing for days after FBI raid
A massive ‘cat-hunt’ was launched after Ghislaine Maxwell’s terrified pet ran off injured when 60 armed FBI agents and police used a battering ram to smash down her door.
Maxwell was with her rescue cat at her £800,000 New Hampshire property at 8.20am on July 2 when the door was bashed down.
A source familiar with the FBI operation said: ‘All hell broke loose. The door was smashed in along with half the front wall. The cat was injured and terrified out of its wits and took off into the woods.’
As Maxwell was hauled off in handcuffs to Merrimack County jail, her pet was forced to fend for itself in the 156-acre woods around her home – the area is filled with bears and porcupines.
The property where Maxwell was arrested by the FBI seen in an aerial photograph in Bradford, New Hampshire
‘In the middle of everything else, a major mission was launched to save this poor animal which had been hurt and was out there trying to avoid being eaten by a bear,’ said a source.
‘There were security people and highly paid lawyers out there looking in the woods. No-one wanted any harm to come to this poor creature.’
The search went on for four days before the cat was finally discovered. The animal has been treated and is doing well.
‘The irony is, the front door was unlocked so there was no reason to smash it down with a battering ram and cause so much chaos and damage. It was overkill and the poor cat was an innocent victim.’
Maxwell was with her rescue cat at her £800,000 New Hampshire property at 8.20am on July 2 when the door was bashed down
Maxwell, who had not been seen in public since Epstein killed himself in a New York jail after being charged with multiple child sex offenses, bought the stunning home in Bradford, New Hampshire, in an all-cash deal last December.
It is in the name of Granite LLC and, unlike her London property, has not been put up as part of her bail surety.
On Friday Maxwell’s lawyers said six friends and family members have offered to put up $5 million for her to get bail, which includes her mews home in London’s Belgravia, worth more than £3 million.
The mews home is where the infamous picture of Prince Andrew with Virginia Roberts was taken in 2001, on the night she says she was first forced to have sex with the Prince.
Maxwell was arrested at the luxurious mountain top home – dubbed Tuckedaway – outside tiny Bradford, New Hampshire
Andrew vehemently denies all claims and said in his Newsnight interview he did not recall ever meeting Ms Roberts and was at a Pizza Express in Woking on the night in question.
Maxwell has offered to rent a home in New York if granted bail at Tuesday’s hearing and to pay for private security.
Her lawyers argue she never tried to flee during the past 12 months and never left the country despite having UK, US and French passports.
She will wear an ankle tag and be monitored round the clock if she is allowed out of jail.