Ghislaine Maxwell, who is charged with assisting accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, is scheduled to go on trial on Nov. 29. Social media posts are circulating a photo that falsely claims to show Chief Justice John Roberts in an affectionate pose with Maxwell. The photo actually shows Maxwell with a French modeling agent facing sexual assault charges.
Ghislaine Maxwell, an associate of accused sex trafficker Jeffery Epstein, was arrested last year and charged with “enticing a minor to travel to engage in criminal sexual activity, transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity” and conspiracy and perjury.
Maxwell is being held without bail ahead of her federal trial, which is set to begin Nov. 29 in New York City.
In the latest bogus claim, posts circulating on social media purports to show Maxwell in an affectionate pose with John Roberts, the chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.
A Facebook post shows two photos side-by-side: Maxwell with an unidentified man and Roberts’ photo from the Supreme Court website. The caption reads, “That’s right Roberts we got yer number now. Tick ~ Tock!”
But Roberts isn’t the man pictured with Maxwell, nor does the image show that he was linked to Maxwell or Epstein.
The photo originated in an article on July 3, 2020, on the French news website 20 minutes. The caption on the photo reads: “French agent Jean-Luc Brunel and Ghislaine Maxwell on Jeffrey Epstein’s island in the mid-2000s. – Photos provided to ‘20 Minutes.’”
Brunel was a French modeling agent who was arrested by French authorities in December 2020 as part of the investigation into Epstein. Virginia Giuffre, one of Epstein’s and Maxwell’s accusers, said in a court filing that Brunel would offer modeling work to young girls, then take them to the U.S. so he could “farm them out to his friends, especially Epstein,” Reuters reported. Brunel was imprisoned in Paris on charges of multiple attacks on Giuffre and another woman, The U.S. Sun reported on Sept. 16.
According to Newsweek, the claim that Roberts was linked to Maxwell or Epstein began after then-President Donald Trump and QAnon-supporting attorney Lin Wood “posted a series of tweets attacking Chief Justice John Roberts in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to throw out yet another bid to overturn the election results.”
Maxwell is reportedly under close watch by guards, in light of Epstein’s death by suicide while in federal custody in 2019. On Nov. 22, Maxwell’s family appealed to the United Nations for help to get her released on bail.
Allen, Peter and Aliki Kraterou. “Epstein pal Jean-Luc Brunel ‘who shared Prince Andrew sex slave Virginia Roberts’ is charged with raping a teenager.” The U.S. Sun. 16 Sep 2021.
Berry, Phillippe. “When Ghislaine Maxwell was alongside Jeffrey Epstein, Frenchman Jean-Luc Brunel was never far away.” 20 minutes. Updated 19 Dec 2020.
Cohen, Luc. “Ghislaine Maxwell sex crimes trial highlights conditions at Brooklyn jail.” Reuters. 18 Nov 2021.
Department of Justice. U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of New York. “Ghislaine Maxwell Charged In Manhattan Federal Court For Conspiring With Jeffrey Epstein To Sexually Abuse Minors.” Press Release. 2 Jul 2020.
Fichera, Angelo. “False Claim Targets Gates Using Epstein Connection.” FactCheck.org. 6 May 2021.
Fichera, Angelo. “Photo Manipulated to Show Schiff With Epstein.” FactCheck.org. 6 May 2021.
Li, David K. “Ghislaine Maxwell’s family appeals to United Nations for help getting her out on bail.” NBC News. 23 Nov 2021.
Palmer, Ewan. “Fact Check: Does Photo Show Chief Justice John Roberts on Jeffrey Epstein’s Private Island?” Newsweek. 18 Dec 2020.
Quinn, Caitlin. “Social Media Posts Spread False Claim About Fauci’s Wife.” FactCheck.org. 10 Jul 2020.
Reuters. “French modeling agent Jean-Luc Brunel, who knew Jeffrey Epstein, is detained.” 17 Dec 2020.
Spencer, Saranac Hale. “Chris Wallace Pictured With Clooney, Not Epstein.” FactCheck.org. 5 Oct 2020.
Supreme Court of the United States. “Current Members.” Supremecourt.gov. Accessed 23 Nov 2021.
Willsher, Kim. “France detains modelling agent in Jeffrey Epstein inquiry.” The Guardian. 17 Dec 2020.
This article was written by Brea Jones during her time as an NABJ/Facebook Fact-Checking Fellow at the University of Pennslyvania’s publication Factcheck.org.