Ms. Maxwell was accused of helping to recruit and groom girls for Mr. Epstein, who killed himself nearly a year ago.
Ghislaine Maxwell, the former girlfriend and longtime associate of the disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein, was arrested Thursday in New Hampshire on criminal charges linked to his alleged sex-trafficking operation, according to a law enforcement official.
Ms. Maxwell was accused in an indictment of recruiting and grooming “multiple” girls, including one as young as 14, for Mr. Epstein, who sexually abused them. She also faces perjury charges.
The arrest came nearly a year after Mr. Epstein was charged in a federal indictment with sexually exploiting and abusing dozens of underage girls at his mansion in Manhattan, his estate in Palm Beach, Fla. and other locations between at least 2002 and 2005.
The indictment said he paid the girls to give him massages while they were nude or topless, in encounters that typically included sex acts.
ADVERTISEMENTMr. Epstein hanged himself in August in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Lower Manhattan, where he was jailed pending trial on the federal sex-trafficking charges.
Ms. Maxwell, a longtime confidante and companion of Mr. Epstein’s, had for years been accused of helping to procure and groom young girls for the financier, including instructing them on how to pleasure Mr. Epstein sexually.
The daughter of the British publishing magnate Robert Maxwell, Ms. Maxwell also helped manage Mr. Epstein’s properties and introduced him to the high-profile celebrities and business executives who would form his social circle.
Civil lawsuits have accused Ms. Maxwell of managing a network of recruiters that Mr. Epstein relied on to entice young and often financially strapped girls and women into his scheme, promising he would help them with their education and careers.
“They were like partners in a business,” Mr. Epstein’s house manager, Janusz Banasiak, said in a deposition.
The new federal indictment, unsealed on Thursday, charged Ms. Maxwell with six counts: enticing minors to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, transportation of a minor with intent to engage in sexual activity, two conspiracy counts related to those charges and two counts of perjury.
The indictment described three instances between 1994 and 1997 of Ms. Maxwell befriending girls, taking them shopping and to the movies. After establishing a rapport with them, Ms. Maxwell would “normalize sexual abuse” by undressing in front of the girls or talking about sexual topics, the indictment claimed.
Mr. Epstein would then abuse the girls in various residences and other locations in New York, New Mexico, Florida and London, according to the indictment.
Jeffrey Pagliuca, who has been a lawyer for Ms. Maxwell, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.