She spent decades rubbing shoulders with British royals and US presidents.
Now British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell is set to stand trial in a New York courtroom on sex trafficking charges, and faces decades behind bars if convicted. The trial is set to beging on Monday, 29 November.
Ms Maxwell, the daughter of the late media mogul Robert Maxwell, told a 2016 deposition that she met Jeffrey Epstein, then a wealthy financier, in 1991 through a mutual friend.
During the 1990s the couple socialised with Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, as well as Prince Andrew, with Ms Maxwell flying on Epstein’s private jets and staying at his homes, before settling in a $5m New York townhouse.
Federal prosecutors allege that Ms Maxwell first helped Epstein in his sexual exploitation of underage girls in 1994, with Annie Farmer, then 16, alleging she was lured to Epstein’s ranch in New Mexico.
She stated in court papers that Ms Maxwell insisted on giving her a massage before Mr Epstein tried to physically restrain and sexually assault her in a bedroom at the property.
Ms Farmer sued Epstein’s estate and Ms Maxwell, eventually accepting a compensation offer from the Epstein Victims’ Compensation Fund, and dropped her allegations as part of that settlement.
But she has alleged that Ms Maxwell “was a really important part of the grooming process”, and that the couple “worked as a team”.
The allegations against Epstein continued to mount and in 2005, a 14-year-old girl contacted police saying that she had been sexually assaulted at his home in Palm Beach, Florida.
Epstein was arrested in 2006 and charged by a grand jury with one count of solicitation of a prostitute and he eventually took a controversial plea deal in state court to prevent federal charges.
After pleading guilty to one count of solicitation of prostitution and one charge of solicitation of a minor, Epstein served 13 months in Palm Beach County Jail.
Ms Maxwell told the 2016 deposition that after Epstein was jailed she continued to occasionally work at his properties and kept her ties with him.
“I’m a very loyal person and Jeffrey was very good to me when my father passed away,” she said in the 2016 deposition.
“I felt that it was a very thoughtful, nice thing for me to do to help in a very limited fashion.”
In 2009, Virginia Giuffre sued Epstein claiming that Ms Maxwell had recruited her when she was a teenager working at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.
She settled her lawsuit with Epstein after claiming that she was made a “sex slave” for years by by he and Ms Maxwell.
Her allegations though resurfaced in 2015, when further victims of Epstein filed cases against him, and she claimed that Ms Maxwell had directed her on three occasions to have sex with Prince Andrew.
Ms Giuffre has now filed a civil case against the royal in a New York court, and he has strongly denied all the allegations made against him.
In July 2019, Epstein was arrested by law enforcement when he arrived on a private jet in New Jersey from France and he was charged with sex trafficking and sex trafficking conspiracy.
Just months later, in August, Epstein was found dead in a Manhattan prison cell while he awaited trial, with a medical examiner ruling the 66-year-old’s death suicide.
Attention then turned to Ms Maxwell, who had a personal fortune of $20m as well as British, French and US passports, and who had disappeared.
Almost exactly one year after Epstein’s arrest the FBI raided a remote estate in New Hampshire, where Ms Maxwell was found living.
She had “slithered away to a gorgeous property in New Hampshire, continuing to live a life of privilege while her victims continue to live with the trauma inflicted upon them years ago,” said Bill Sweeney, the assistant director of the FBI’s New York Field Office, as he confirmed her arrest.
Prosecutors say that Ms Maxwell refused to answer the door to agents, who were forced to break it down and take her into custody.
Federal prosecutors have charged her with conspiracy and enticing minors to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, and the transportation of minors to engage in criminal sexual activity for allegedly grooming and recruiting underage girls from 1994 through 1997.
She is also being charged with sex trafficking of a minor from 2001 to 2004, in addition to one count of sex trafficking conspiracy.
Ms Maxwell has pleaded not guilty to all charges and been denied bail on multiple occasions as Judge Alison Nathan views her as a flight risk.
Her defence team has argued that Ms Maxwell is being tried as a replacement for Epstein, which prosecutors have denied.
In court filings the prosecutors state that the “victims were sexually abused as minors as a direct result of Ghislaine Maxwell’s actions, and they have carried the trauma from these events for their entire adult lives. They deserve to see her brought to justice at a trial.”
In March, Prosecutors filed an additional indictment with an additional underage victim added to the charges, which caused the trial to be put back until 29 November.
After more than a year in prison, Ms Maxwell will get the chance to rebut the allegations against her in a Lower Manhattan courtroom and try to avoid effectively spending the rest of her life under lock and key.