Maxwell says she only hired 'age appropriate adults' for Epstein

©Agence France-Presse

Ghislaine Maxwell -- shown here with the late disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein -- is being held at Brooklyn's high-security Metropolitan Detention Center

New York (AFP) - Accused sex trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell repeatedly denied that she recruited underage girls for her former partner, the disgraced US financier Jeffrey Epstein, in a deposition released Thursday that she had fought to keep secret.

The denials form part of perjury charges brought against the British socialite, who is accused of grooming girls as young as 14 for Epstein, who killed himself in prison last year.

Maxwell -- the daughter of late newspaper baron Robert Maxwell -- denies sex trafficking dozens of minors and is due to go on trial in New York next summer.

Prosecutors also accuse the 58-year-old of lying in testimony she gave in 2016 in a defamation case filed against her by long-time Epstein accuser Virginia Giuffre.

Maxwell's lawyers fought for months to prevent the 465-page document from becoming public, citing sensitive private details, but earlier this week an appeals court ordered that they be unsealed. 

"Stop right there. I never recruited girls," Maxwell says in the deposition.

Elsewhere, she says: "I never had nonconsensual sex with anybody ever, at any time, at anyplace, at any time, with anybody."

Maxwell -- who was intimately involved with Epstein in the 1990s -- testified that her work for him included hiring pool attendants, gardeners, chefs, housekeepers, butlers and chauffeurs for his numerous properties.

She said all staff she hired were "age appropriate adults."

Maxwell also repeatedly tried to evade attorneys' questions by saying she had no recollection of dozens of events put to her.

"I don't recollect anything about a laundry basket of sex toys," she said. 

Maxwell also said that she had "never observed" Epstein having sex with a minor.

"I don't know what you are talking about," she replied when asked whether Epstein ran a pyramid scheme to recruit underage girls to give him sexual massages.

Maxwell faces up to 35 years in prison if convicted in the criminal case, which covers alleged crimes from 1994 to 1997. She is also accused of sometimes participating in the alleged abuse.

Victims say they were farmed out to some of Epstein's wealthy associates.

Giuffre claims she had sex with Britain's Prince Andrew when she was 17 after being procured by Epstein, an allegation the royal has repeatedly and vehemently denied.

Scores of names were redacted in the deposition, in which Maxwell called Giuffre "an absolute total liar."