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Jeffrey Epstein Accomplice Ghislaine Maxwell Faces Federal Charges, Including Child Sex Trafficking

This case has been building against Maxwell for years, with dozens of trafficking and sexual abuse survivors speaking out about her participation in Jeffrey Epstein's reported child sex trafficking network.

Header image retrieved from NBCNews.com. Portions of this post were originally reported by The Associated Press, NBC News, and CNN.com.

Ghislaine Maxwell, the British socialite accused of aiding in her former partner Jeffrey Epstein’s sexual abuse of minor girls, faces more federal charges, a new Manhattan federal court indictment filed on Monday reveals.

NBC News reports that a new eight-count indictment accuses Maxwell of grooming and paying a 14-year-old girl to engage in sex acts with billionaire financier and accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein at his home in Palm Beach, Fla., between 2001 and 2004.

Maxwell was already facing six counts tied to Epstein’s alleged sex trafficking network, but the new charges brought today amount to a significant escalation of the case. NBC reports that prosecutors had previously accused Maxwell of facilitating the abuse of three young girls in the mid-1990s. The new indictment adds a fourth victim and accuses Maxwell of enabling Epstein’s abuse into the mid-2000s.

Related: Tips For Fact-Checking Human Trafficking Theories And Stories

The indictment says that Maxwell and others called up the fourth victim to schedule the encounters and paid her hundreds of dollars in cash after each visit.

Maxwell reportedly “sought to normalize inappropriate and abusive conduct by, among other things, discussing sexual topics in front of [the victim] and being present when [the victim] was nude in the massage room of the Palm Beach residence” of Epstein, the indictment says.

When Maxwell was arrested in the summer of 2020, she faced six counts, including conspiracy to entice minors to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, enticement of a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, conspiracy to transport minors with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, and perjury.

She is being held in federal detention in Brooklyn.

Read the rest of the reports about Maxwell by The Guardian and NBC by clicking here or here.

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A bit of review: who was Epstein, and how is he relevant to this case?

This case has been building against Maxwell for years, with dozens of trafficking and sexual abuse survivors speaking out about her participation in Epstein’s reported child sex trafficking network.

Epstein, a convicted sex offender, was found dead by apparent suicide in his cell in federal custody in New York in August 2019, where he was awaiting trial just over a month after his arrest on multiple charges of sex trafficking girls as young as 14.

Related: How Sex Traffickers Operate, A Breakdown According To This Anti-Trafficking Expert

Federal prosecutors in New York unsealed a criminal indictment in July of 2019 charging billionaire Jeffrey Epstein with having operated a sex trafficking ring in which he sexually abused dozens of underage girls, allegations that have circulated around the businessman for years, reports CNN.

According to that indictment, between 2002 and 2005, 66-year-old Epstein ran a trafficking enterprise alongside Maxwell in which he paid hundreds of dollars in cash to rape girls as young as 14 at his Upper East Side home and his estate in Palm Beach, worked with employees and associates to lure the girls to his residences, and paid some of his victims to recruit other girls for him to abuse.

“In this way, Epstein created a vast network of underage victims for him to sexually exploit, often on a daily basis,” Manhattan US Attorney Geoffrey Berman said in a statement at the time of his arrest in July 2019.

Related: The Traffickers, Victims, And Buyers: Here’s How Sex Trafficking Happens

Epstein had been jailed since early July, when he pleaded not guilty to charges by New York federal prosecutors after an indictment accused him of sex trafficking dozens of underage girls, some as young as 14 years old.

News of Epstein’s death came a day after hundreds of pages of court documents were unsealed in New York federal court, alleging new details of sexual abuse claims against Epstein and several associates.

Read the rest of the reports about Epstein by The Associated Press and CNN by clicking here or here.

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Debunking child sex trafficking myths to fight this global issue

The FBI has reported a significant increase in sex trafficking crimes in recent years. In fact, during the fiscal year 2020 alone, the FBI opened 664 human trafficking investigations across the U.S. and arrest 473 human traffickers. As of November 2020, the agency still had 1,800 open trafficking investigations—including child sex trafficking cases.

So how can we help make a dent on such a complex, devastating, and growing global issue?

Related: 9 Surprising Facts About Human Trafficking In The U.S.

Learning about how trafficking really happens can help put conspiracies and myths to rest and help society see how child trafficking usually happens.

For example, one common misconception is that children are kidnapped by strangers. However, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children—a global organization that’s aided the investigation and recovery of thousands of missing kids—reports just the opposite.

According to NCMEC, less than 1% of missing children cases reported in the US in 2020 were non-family abductions. In fact, in a recent Virginia operation where NCMEC helped recover 27 missing children, none of the cases involved a child getting abducted by someone they didn’t know.

The Polaris Project is another excellent resource for learning about other common child sex trafficking myths.

Related: 8 Popular Conspiracy Theories About Sex Trafficking, Debunked

Understanding the realities of what child trafficking is, how it happens, and who is involved is vital when it comes to recovering victims, preventing these crimes, and reporting suspicious behavior when you notice it.

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Porn’s role in child sex trafficking

Truly seeing the issue of child sex trafficking includes not turning a blind eye to the role pornography plays in sex trafficking and exploitation.

From normalizing abuse and sexualizing children to being used as a tool to groom victims, research and survivor accounts show that porn is interwoven in virtually every facet of sex trafficking, and vice versa.

Related: How These 6 Major International Child Exploitation Operations Were Shut Down

Often what consumers believe to be harmless fantasy on a screen is actually the documented abuse of a real sex trafficing victim—a dark secret the porn industry doesn’t want consumers to know about. And the more consumers click, stream, and download porn, the more the demand for sex trafficking—including the exploitation of children—is fueled.

Sure, not all porn is nonconsensualbut some is. And there’s no way for someone browsing on a mainstream porn site to tell the difference. The fight against sex trafficking and the fight against porn are truly one and the same.

While child sex trafficking is a complex issue, the role porn plays in it is undeniable. What many consumers view as a passive, private act can actually contribute to the exploitation of real people—even real kids.

It’s a harsh reality, but a reality still the same. And when you refuse to click, you can help stop the demand for sexual exploitation.