The current LCI columnist publishes a fascinating account of the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell, sentenced to 20 years in the United States for sex trafficking of minors and her romantic relationship with the depraved billionaire Jeffrey Epstein.
Why this book on the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell?
Initially because there was a French dimension to the Epstein affair. He was arrested on his return from a Paris-New York flight, he had an apartment on avenue Foch, we then realized that he was very close to the French modeling agent Jean-Luc Brunel, and it was while doing this survey for the American channel CBS News that I met Ghislaine Maxwell. She interested me, I wanted to understand how this woman who had had everything, who was the heiress of an empire could find herself accused of pedophilia, and arouse this incredible hatred.
Who is Ghislaine Maxwell?
She is the daughter of British tycoon Robert Maxwell, who drowned in 1992 when he fell from his yacht, which was also called the Lady Ghislaine, while his group was ruined. Her brothers send her to New York where she finds herself in the business world, with many French connections: all the French people who succeeded in New York at the time did so with Ghislaine Maxwell.
Et Jeffrey Epstein ?
At the time of his splendor, he was one of the most important financiers in New York, at the head of an immense fortune, who managed even larger fortunes to make tax optimization. He started from nothing, he was a math teacher, and he conquered Wall Street, through hard work and intelligence. It has become essential for all those billionaires who are in this same circuit, with an apartment in Manhattan and a summer residence in Palm Beach, Florida, like Donald Trump. He is also a sublime type, a mixture of Clint Eastwood and Robert Redford, who is always with very young and very pretty girls.
How do they meet?
We don’t really know. Epstein had gone to London before Maxwell’s death, to do business with him, and he had introduced Ghislaine to him. Their first public photo is taken at a ceremony in New York in memory of Maxwell, which shows that they are already head over heels in love with each other. This is undoubtedly where this couple was born, in this moment of great vulnerability. He then bought a lot of things from her, paid 27 million dollars in ten years. For the prosecutors, it is the price of the girls that she provided him. I think it’s something else, related to business in Epstein and his father.
How do they become a couple of sexual predators?
We are in the 90s where top models like Cindy Crawford or Naomi Campbell are absolute stars, where all the pretty girls want to become models, where the agencies were all powerful and where all the rich guys want to have a top model on their arm . Gorgeous girls came from all over the world, and no one asked them for ID. There, in the Maxwell Epstein couple, something goes wrong. The couple have sex with other girls, still young, who aren’t just one-night stands. Some will stay for months, years with them. And at some point, Ghislaine will start looking for girls, approaching them on the street, either for weekend sex parties, to introduce them to Jeffrey Epstein.
How do we get to this trial?
#Metoo happened in there: these girls saying they were abused by rich and powerful men, before, nobody listens to them. After #Metoo, they become very interesting for lawyers and prosecutors. Epstein was first arrested and convicted in 2008 for soliciting underage prostitutes. He then hired as a lawyer Kenneth Star, the former prosecutor who had led the investigation against Bill Clinton in the Lewinsky case, and who then had no qualms about defending Epstein accused of pedophilia. This shows what was then the perversion of American justice by money, with shark lawyers at 1000 dollars an hour.
Prince Andrew and Virginia, the 17-year-old accuser
Prince Andrew, third child of Queen Elizabeth II was implicated in the Epstein-Maxwell scandal, by Virginia, 17, who claims to have been delivered to him three times, for orgies with other minors. “He is a teenage friend of Ghislaine, who introduces him to Jeffrey Epstein. Andrew loves this couple very much, and English protocol is no longer there in Epstein’s homes in the Virgin Islands. He is someone who is in a straitjacket, and who suddenly finds himself free, with pretty girls around. And when Epstein is released from prison, after being accused of prostitution of minors, Andrew is sleeping at home.”
“Virginia had decided to go to trial, and Andrew always said she was a liar. And six months ago, in total silence, they sat around a table to sign an agreement which at this day remains confidential. It is rumored that it would be about 15 million dollars, and that Andrew was therefore stripped of his title of royal highness “
What’s changing in 2019?
What changes is that girls decide to break non-disclosure agreements, which are very common in the United States. All the rich people who hire someone make them sign this. And when you are accused by a girl, you sign an agreement for her to give up talking and going to trial, for very large sums of money. Girls have broken these agreements, making another calculation: I break because the traumas are still in my head, but I become famous, I will tell on Netflix, write a book with a lawyer. It’s very brave for these girls to speak out, in a society where fame is so important. But it also allows them to earn money.
Does money really buy everything?
This element of wealth works both ways. We have crimes committed in silk, around magnificent swimming pools, between powerful people, and there is a code of silence for everyone. These girls did not go to the police, nor did their parents, who had sometimes agreed to Epstein offering them a house. Epstein also gave huge amounts of money to the Palm Beach police.
He committed suicide in prison in 2019. How is Ghislaine judged?
I went to this trial with a very preconceived idea of his guilt, and I came out of it telling myself that nothing is simple. She’s not guilty of everything, but that doesn’t excuse sex crimes. Very few girls testified, only four, for facts committed after 2009 when her affair with Epstein ended between 2001 and 2004. During the investigation, Ghislaine keeps saying that the main accuser is a liar, but when she has the opportunity to speak, she refuses. The case is not over. She appealed, and says today she wishes she had never met Epstein.
“I was threatened a lot while investigating the French aspect than the American affair”
The Epstein-Maxwell affair is far from having revealed all its secrets, believes Laurence Haïm. Especially on its French component. “There is a very important French businessman, still at large, who was completely associated with this little band. Virginia affirms that she was offered to him in Saint-Tropez, during Beyonce’s birthday. She was a minor and Epstein would have offered Virgina to this French businessman.”
Another terrible suspicion: “Epstein would have said that he would have brought twelve-year-old girls from a French family, saying openly, still according to Virginia, that it was good because in France people needed money, so it was easy. We never knew if it was true or not.” Some seem in any case to have things to hide: “Working on the French investigation, I was much more threatened than while working on the American investigation. Yes, threatened. It was not necessary to tell, it was not necessary not give the names, we had to be careful”. Example ? “At one point I tell my editor on my phone what I found on the Brunel section, and ten minutes later my phone rang and I was threatened by the name of this person. would ever come out.”
A fear seems to be shared: “What I really appreciated about the French investigation was finding the names of French people who had taken Epstein’s plane, begging me not to put their names in the book, and other French people who for example happen to travel around the world several times with Epstein and Prince Andrew on the plane and who say that they have only seen Jeffrey Epstein once in a cocktail We don’t know her anymore, we’ve never been friends with her, and they threaten me: you have no interest in putting my name in your book.”
“Be careful, getting on Epstein’s private plane does not mean we raped someone. The family and the 12-year-old girls, I don’t know if that’s true because I think Epstein loved brag. On the other hand, where I’m sure it’s true is that they offered Virginia to a French industrialist in Saint Tropez. I’m sure of that.”
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