US sex offender Jeffrey Epstein’s former girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell said she never witnessed “inappropriate underage activities” by him, according to transcripts of a 2016 deposition.
The deposition was made in a now-settled civil defamation lawsuit brought by one of the late financier’s accusers, Virginia Giuffre.
Ms Maxwell had long fought to keep the testimony secret.
She will go on trial in a criminal case next year and has pleaded not guilty.
She is accused of helping Epstein traffic and sexually abuse underage girls and of perjury for having denied involvement in any such scheme when she gave her deposition under oath.
The 58 year old has been in custody since her arrest in July. If convicted, she could be sentenced to up to 35 years in prison.
What does the deposition say?
Transcripts of the deposition were released on Thursday under the orders of US District Judge Loretta Preska.
Ms Maxwell had fought to keep the documents under wraps. Her lawyers argued that releasing it would violate her constitutional right against self-incrimination and could impede her right to a fair trial next year. They said she had believed the deposition would remain confidential.
In the transcripts, Ms Maxwell repeatedly denies hiring anyone under the age of 18 for Epstein.
“I never saw any inappropriate underage activities with Jeffrey ever,” she said.
“All the time that I have been in the house I have never seen, heard, nor witnessed, nor have reported to me that any activities took place, that people were in distress, either reported to me by the staff or anyone else,” she said.
Ms Giuffre alleges that Ms Maxwell recruited her, and says Epstein kept her as a “sex slave” with Maxwell’s assistance.
Referring directly to Ms Giuffre, Ms Maxwell said: “I never ever at any single time at any point ever at all participated in anything with Virginia and Jeffrey. And for the record, she is an absolute total liar.”
Asked if she trained Ms Giuffre to recruit other women to perform sexual massages, Ms Maxwell said: “It′s absurd and her entire story is one giant tissue of lies.”
Ms Maxwell said she had “no idea” how old Ms Giuffre was when she met Epstein.
Who is Ghislaine Maxwell?
Ms Maxwell is the daughter of the late disgraced UK newspaper tycoon Robert Maxwell, his ninth and youngest child.
Born on Christmas Day in 1961 outside Paris, Ms Maxwell is Oxford-educated and is said to speak several languages,
A well-connected socialite, she is said to have introduced Epstein to many of her wealthy and powerful friends, including Bill Clinton and Prince Andrew.
Friends said that although Ms Maxwell and Epstein’s romantic relationship lasted only a few years, she continued to work with him long afterward, the Washington Post reports.
“She had an upbringing and taste and knew how to run a house and a boat and how to entertain,” an acquaintance was quoted by the UK’s Daily Telegraph as saying. “You can’t buy that. You can’t buy access, either.”
In a Vanity Fair profile published in 2003, Epstein said Ms Maxwell was not a paid employee, but rather his “best friend”.
In court documents, former employees at the Epstein mansion in Palm Beach describe her as the house manager, who oversaw the staff, handled finances and served as social co-ordinator, the Post reports.
What are the charges she faces?
Prosecutors allege that between 1994 and 1997, Ms Maxwell helped Epstein groom girls as young as 14. They have said that they expect “one or more victims” to testify.
Four of the charges Ms Maxwell faces relate to the years 1994-97 when she was, according to the indictment, among Epstein’s closest associates and also in an “intimate relationship” with him. The other two charges are allegations of perjury in 2016.
The indictment says Ms Maxwell “assisted, facilitated, and contributed to Epstein’s abuse of minor girls by, among other things, helping Epstein to recruit, groom and ultimately abuse victims known to Maxwell and Epstein to be under the age of 18”. BBC News