October 22, 20209:06 AM ET
Updated at 10:10 a.m. ET
Ghislaine Maxwell’s answers to questions about the sex-trafficking operation she allegedly ran with the late Jeffrey Epstein were made public Thursday, as a federal court released Maxwell’s 2016 deposition. The transcript is more than 400 pages long, but it has been redacted to protect the privacy of some people it mentions.
The transcript is finally being unsealed after a back-and-forth legal battle between Maxwell and Virginia Giuffre, who has accused Maxwell, Epstein and others of sexually abusing her when she was a minor. Court documents allege that Maxwell procured young girls for the late Epstein to have sex with – and that the pair also ordered girls and young women to have sex with rich and powerful men.
NPR is sifting through the transcript, which you can read here:
The documents’ release comes after months of anticipation — as well as doubts over whether the transcript would contain any bombshells. In addition to redactions that remove names and other details, federal prosecutors have filed two criminal counts against Maxwell for allegedly lying during the deposition.
Repeated questions about minors
Many of the questions Maxwell was asked in the deposition revolve around the ages of the girls and young women she allegedly hired to give massages to Epstein and other adults that prosecutors say were sexual in nature.
“How old was the youngest female you ever hired to work for Jeffrey?” she was asked by Giuffre’s lead attorney, Sigrid McCawley.
“I have not any idea exactly of the youngest adult employee that I hired for Jeffrey,” Maxwell said.
McCawley replied, “When you say adult employee, did you ever hire someone that was under the age of 18?”
“Never,” Maxwell said.
To another question, asking if she ever invited minors to Epstein’s home in Palm Beach, Maxwell said she has friends who have children, and she likely invited them.
McCawley then turned to Giuffre, asking if Maxwell had invited her to come to Epstein’s house when Giuffre was under the age of 18. At the time, Giuffre was known by her maiden name, Roberts.
“Virginia Roberts held herself out as a masseuse and invited herself to come and give a massage,” Maxwell said.
Maxwell said she did not recall the first time she met Giuffre, who has said they met while she was a teenager working at Mar-a-Lago, the club owned by President Trump.
In the questioning that followed, Maxwell said Giuffre’s mother drove her to Epstein’s house – and she said she spoke to Giuffre’s mother outside for the entire time Giuffre was inside.
“Virginia lied 100 percent” about what happened that day, Maxwell said, calling Giuffre “an awful fantasist.”
Perjury charges against Maxwell
One perjury count against Maxwell refers to her saying under oath that she wasn’t aware of anyone she interacted with at Epstein’s properties who was under 18, besides the plaintiff. When asked whether he had a scheme to recruit underage girls for sexual massages, she said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
In the second perjury county, prosecutors quoted Maxwell saying that in the 1990s and 2000s, she “wasn’t aware that he was having sexual activities with anyone when I was with him other than myself.” Prosecutors said these statements were not truthful.
The transcript shows that the very first question to Maxwell from McCawley sought to establish her role in Epstein’s orbit.
“When did you first recruit a female to work for Mr. Epstein?” Maxwell was asked – immediately drawing an objection from her attorneys. Maxwell eventually answered the question, but she seemed to prefer to focus on semantics.
“First of all, can you please clarify the question,” she said. “I don’t understand what you mean by female, I don’t understand what you mean by recruit. Please be more clear and specific about what you are suggesting.”
After more back-and-forth, she acknowledged, “I was somebody who hired a number of people to work for Mr. Epstein and hiring is one of my functions.”
Maxwell then said the first time she hired a female to work for Epstein was “sometime in 1992” – and the woman was around age 40 or 50, she said. Maxwell said her work for Epstein “lessened considerably” starting in 2002 or 2003. But she also said she continued working for him through at least 2008 or 2009.
How we got here
U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska ordered the documents released back in July. That month, the two sides began arguing over which redactions should be made – and they were still going over revisions on Wednesday, just ahead of the deadline. Early Thursday, Preska said that after reviewing the suggested changes, she approved Giuffre’s proposed redactions and ordered “limited additional redactions.”
The public release includes other materials related to Maxwell’s deposition – but it does not include the transcript of a separate deposition by a man identified only as “John Doe #1.” The judge has given that man and another John Doe 14 days to consider making formal objections.
Maxwell, 58, was arrested in July and charged on several counts related to sex trafficking minors and perjury. She has pleaded not guilty in that case. She has previously denied the allegations against her, including under sworn testimony.
The transcript reflects hours of interviews conducted with Maxwell after Giuffre brought a 2015 defamation suit against her. Maxwell had accused Giuffre of lying when she alleged Epstein and Maxwell sexually abused and exploited her. Maxwell’s attorneys have cited her ongoing criminal case as a chief reason to suppress the transcript of her deposition.
Maxwell appealed to a higher court to try to keep the transcript secret, but earlier this week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit affirmed Preska’s ruling from July, saying the lower court was correct to reject “meritless arguments” from Maxwell.
For years, accusations against Maxwell and Epstein were obscured by legal maneuvers — most famously, a controversial nonprosecution agreement Epstein reached in 2007 with federal prosecutors in Florida. That plea deal with then-U.S. Attorney Alex Acosta led to state charges against Epstein, but it also prevented him and any co-conspirators from being prosecuted for federal sex crimes in southern Florida.
Epstein never faced a federal trial over the crimes of which he was accused. About a month after his arrest on sex-trafficking charges in 2019, he died after being found unresponsive in his jail cell in Manhattan. His death at age 66 was ruled a suicide.
Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell, shown here in 2005, allegedly ran a sex-trafficking operation together.
Patrick McMullan/Patrick McMullan via Getty Image