Former Jeffrey Epstein companion Ghislaine Maxwell arrested

Ghislaine Maxwell, the former companion of Jeffrey Epstein, was arrested by the FBI in New Hampshire on Thursday morning.

Maxwell, 58, was charged by the Southern District of New York, which did not stop investigating Epstein's associates after his death, with conspiring to entice minors to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, perjury and other offenses.

From at least 1994 to 1997, Maxwell assisted, facilitated and contributed to Epstein's alleged abuse of minor girls, the six-count indictment claimed.

Federal prosecutors in New York alleged Maxwell helped Epstein recruit, groom and ultimately abuse girls as young as 14. In some cases, she allegedly befriended the girls, took them shopping and to the movies before turning them over to Epstein for alleged abuse at his properties in New York City, New Mexico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, prosecutors said.

"She pretended to be a woman they could trust," Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said at a news conference Thursday. "Today, after many years, Ghislaine Maxwell finally stands charged for her role in these crimes."

The perjury charges stem from statements Maxwell made in civil depositions, according to the complaint.

Attorneys who represent Maxwell in civil lawsuits filed by women who allege Epstein abused them didn't immediately return messages to ABC News for comment. Maxwell previously denied any wrongdoing.

She was arrested in Bradford, New Hampshire, without incident. Later in the afternoon, Maxwell appeared virtually before a federal magistrate and waived her right to a detention hearing in New Hampshire, clearing the way for her transfer to New York, where she'll be temporarily detained.

Prosecutors will request that Maxwell remain behind bars pending court hearings since she has "a strong incentive" to flee, according to a detention memo obtained by ABC News. The detention memo said that in the last three years, Maxwell has taken at least 15 international flights, and she has three passports, large sums of money and many international connections.

"The strength of the Government's evidence and the substantial prison term the defendant would face upon conviction all create a strong incentive for the defendant to flee," the memo said.

The memo also claimed Maxwell used several tactics to hide from the public and authorities after Epstein was indicted last year. She moved locations at least twice, changed her primary phone number and e-mail address and ordered packages for delivery using a different name on the shipping label, according to prosecutors.

"Most recently, the defendant appears to have been hiding on a 156-acre property acquired in an all-cash purchase in December 2019 (through a carefully anonymized LLC) in Bradford, New Hampshire, an area to which she has no other known connections," the memo said.

If convicted on the charges, Maxwell faces up to 35 years in prison, according to prosecutors.

Epstein's alleged victims expressed gratitude to investigators for their work.

Jennifer Araoz, who has alleged Epstein abused her, said in a statement that she was able "to take a breath of relief."

"For years, I feared Epstein and his ring. Maxwell was the center of that sex trafficking ring. Now that the ring has been taken down, I know that I can't be hurt anymore," she said in a statement.

Brad Edwards, a Fort Lauderdale attorney who now represents more than 50 women who claim they were abused by Epstein, said in a statement his clients were pleased by news of Maxwell's arrest.

"They are also thankful for the determination that the SDNY prosecutors have demonstrated throughout their investigation. Today brings us one step closer to justice," he said in a statement.

Maxwell's arrest comes almost exactly a year after the arrest of Epstein, who died by suicide in the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Lower Manhattan in August 2019.

ABC News' James Hill contributed to this report.
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