Several of the women featured in Netflix's new docuseries, Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich, recall meeting Epstein's longtime girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell, alleging that she was a key figure in the sex trafficking ring he was accused of running and even participated in the abuse herself. Both she and Epstein denied the allegations against them, and following Epstein's death in 2019, the case was thrown out. But there are still several outstanding civil lawsuits filed by Epstein's accusers against Maxwell, who has vanished from the public eye.
A British socialite, Maxwell was born in 1961 to Robert Maxwell, a newspaper tycoon who died in a mysterious yacht incident in 1991. After her father's death, Maxwell moved to New York City, where she met Epstein and introduced him to his network of high profile connections, per CNN. The pair reportedly split in the 1990s, but court documents allege that during their relationship, Maxwell managed a network of recruiters and helped devise a playbook for how to target minors for Epstein to sexually abuse. Per The New York Times, recruiters were allegedly told to target young, financially desperate women, and to promise furthering their education and careers in exchange for paid massages that then turned sexual.
Epstein accuser Sarah Ransome claimed to the Times that Maxwell "orchestrated the whole thing for Jeffrey," and a source further alleged to Vanity Fair that Maxwell once described the victims as "nothing" and "trash."
As a result, Maxwell has been the subject of several civil lawsuits, both before and after Epstein's 2019 prison suicide. Virginia Guiffre filed a civil lawsuit against Maxwell in 2015, alleging that she and Epstein recruited her for their sex trafficking ring as a teen while she was working at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort. Guiffre also sued Maxwell for slander after Maxwell reportedly called the claims "untrue" and "obvious lies." The lawsuit was settled in 2017.
In 2017, Ransome filed a suit that alleged Maxwell hired her to give Epstein massages, and later coerced and threatened her into sexually pleasing Epstein. The suit was settled in 2018 under undisclosed terms.
On April 16, 2019, Maria Farmer alleged that she and her sister Annie were assaulted by both Epstein and Maxwell in separate locations in 1996. Annie went on to formally sue Maxwell and Epstein's estate in November 2019, accusing them of rape and battery.
Jennifer Araoz also filed a lawsuit in August 2019, alleging that Maxwell provided "organizational support to Epstein's sex trafficking ring" by hiring recruiters and scheduling appointments with underage girls, per CNN. Araoz's lawsuit also accuses Maxwell of "intimidating potential witnesses to Epstein's sex trafficking operation."
Both Araoz and Farmer's lawsuits are still ongoing, on top of several other "Jane Doe" cases, but it seems Maxwell has been laying low since Epstein's death. In January 2020, Araoz's attorney told ABC News that they have "thus far been unable to find [Maxwell] for the purposes of serving her with the complaint.”
In March 2020, Maxwell attempted to sue Epstein's estate herself, seeking reimbursement of her ongoing legal fees and personal security costs. As of May 22, she was granted a temporary reprieve from having to respond to questions in one of the Jane Doe civil lawsuits, simply because it could interfere with the finalization of Farmer's lawsuit. It's unclear what will become of Maxwell's numerous cases. She continues to deny any and all involvement with Epstein's alleged sex trafficking ring and has never been criminally charged. Her current whereabouts are unknown.