At Ghislaine Maxwell’s criminal trial—where the former girlfriend of Jeffrey Epstein was convicted on five counts related to child sex-trafficking—a victim named Carolyn testified that a second woman also arranged for her to be molested by the perverted multimillionaire.
Sarah Kellen, a former assistant to Epstein, scheduled some of her “massage” appointments at his Palm Beach lair, sent for cars to pick her up and once took nude photographs of her for the pedophile, Carolyn said. “[Kellen] called and said she was calling in regards to Mr. Epstein,” she testified, “and that I would get paid $500 to $600 if she could take pictures of me.”
Kellen “knew what was going on,” Carolyn later added. “She was older than me, so she was an adult. She knew what was happening.”
Indeed, Kellen was part of Epstein’s inner circle for more than a decade and named among four “potential co-conspirators” in the financier’s lenient plea deal in Florida in 2008. That year, multiple teenage victims, including Carolyn, filed lawsuits against Epstein as well as Kellen, with one complaint describing Kellen as his “lieutenant” who “served as both his scheduler and a recruiter/procurer of the girls.”
Now, in the wake of Maxwell’s guilty verdict, Kellen is one of Epstein’s longtime associates who could still face a criminal indictment.
Asked why Kellen wasn’t charged alongside Maxwell, victims’ attorney Brad Edwards said, “I think that’s probably phrased more accurately as why she wasn’t charged yet.”
“The way that I see it is: Sarah has been given dozens if not hundreds of chances to potentially reposition herself in this narrative,” Edwards told The Daily Beast. “You’re either on the side of the victims or the other side, which is the side of the bad guys.”
Kellen and her representatives declined to comment for this story.
Throughout Maxwell’s trial in Manhattan federal court, Kellen was mentioned dozens of times as a key employee in Epstein’s world, one who answered phones at his Florida mansion, scheduled his massages, called his pilots to arrange flights on his private jets, and sent packages to Carolyn. Prosecutors entered a handful of photographs of her into evidence—one showing her in Epstein’s embrace as they stood before a private plane, two of her smiling next to Maxwell, and a fourth posing at what appears to be one of Epstein’s properties.
In closing arguments, the defense tried to shift blame to Kellen when it came to Carolyn’s accusations of abuse. “Now, the government wants you to believe that because Ghislaine Maxwell traveled to Palm Beach … and helped to manage Epstein’s properties, she was the one orchestrating massages, despite the fact that you’ve seen no proof of that, no message pads, no phone records, nothing,” lawyer Laura Menninger told jurors. “You’ve seen Sarah Kellen was there.”
Despite her name haunting the proceedings, Kellen wasn’t called to testify and the government didn’t grant her immunity. The defense, at a Dec. 18 conference, identified Kellen as one of several witnesses they were unable to call because they would have invoked their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
The Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to comment on why Kellen, now 42, wasn’t granted immunity to testify against Maxwell.
“There came a point in time when Ghislaine got smarter and started putting buffers up and one of the buffers she put in place was Sarah.”
But Kellen could have another chance to cooperate should Maxwell be granted a retrial. Last week, the socialite’s lawyers asked for a do-over after a juror gave a flurry of media interviews detailing how he shared his own experience with child sexual abuse during deliberations to sway other skeptical jurors. The juror, identified by his first and middle names Scotty David, reportedly did not disclose this on his jury questionnaire, raising questions about whether the panel that found Maxwell guilty was impartial.
One month after Epstein’s death in August 2019, Kellen came forward as a victim herself. Her spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler has said that she was 22 when Epstein and Maxwell recruited her as an assistant for the British heiress. At the time, she’d been “cast out of the Jehovah’s Witness community in which she had been born and raised” and divorced by a man she married at age 17, Schmaler said. “Very soon after Sarah was brought into Epstein’s world,” she added, “he began to sexually abuse her, and this abuse went on for years.”
“Sarah was targeted by Epstein and Maxwell when she, like many of their victims, was extremely vulnerable—struggling financially and emotionally,” Schmaler said in statements provided to the media. The spokeswoman added that Kellen was “sexually and psychologically abused by Epstein and Maxwell.”
“She was one of dozens of assistants who worked for Epstein and Maxwell over the years,” Schmaler said. “One of her many duties included scheduling various appointments for them—including massages. At no time did Sarah recruit young girls for Epstein or Maxwell.”
In March 2020, a woman whose story is strikingly similar to Kellen’s filed a lawsuit against Epstein’s estate under the pseudonym Jane Doe, alleging she “was a naïve and uniquely vulnerable 22-year old when Epstein and Maxwell first preyed upon her.”
The complaint said Epstein exploited Doe “over the course of many years” and that he knew she was “an extremely emotionally vulnerable young woman who, at the time she met him, had been entirely abandoned by her community, friends, and family which enabled him to seduce her into his world of horrific abuse.”
“Every aspect of her life was controlled by Epstein,” the suit alleged. “He dominated her psychologically. Jane Doe was constantly emotionally bullied and coerced by Epstein, including being required to submit to his constant sexual abuse.”
The complaint added that Doe’s “name and reputation has been ruined,” and “she is virtually bankrupt, having been forced to spend most of her resources defending herself against false accusations, all of which stem from Epstein’s crimes.”
In a filing last July, Doe’s lawyer Daniel Kaiser said that despite the abuse Doe suffered, “there are some who have mercilessly disparaged Jane Doe and even threatened her with death.” (Kaiser did not return a message seeking comment.)
“I was a human baton and Sarah had the biggest hand in passing me along to Ghislaine.”
Court papers reveal Doe submitted a claim to the Epstein Victims’ Compensation Program but didn’t receive a settlement offer or otherwise accept one. At a hearing last August, Kaiser said Doe’s claim “was not successful” and that the program’s administrator “was very explicit with me on the phone how politics, you know, restrained her and entered into what she did or didn’t do with my client.”
Records show that weeks before Maxwell’s trial kicked off on Nov. 29, Doe settled her lawsuit with Epstein’s estate.
Edwards said that Kellen applied to the victims’ compensation fund but still hasn’t come forward to help other victims of the financier’s sexual pyramid scheme.
“She’s been given ample opportunity to help victims and flat out refused,” Edwards told us. “If she told the truth and provided evidence, then it would destroy Ghislaine. There is no help whatsoever that she could ever provide Ghislaine.”
According to Edwards, Kellen has “more evidence and information of who the bad guys all were and what their conduct was that would assist the prosecutors, that would assist all of the victims, and that would help to bring closure to hundreds if not a thousand victims.”
In the Maxwell prosecution, Kellen could have made the choice to “cooperate with the government completely, tell them everything that you know, and assist in the prosecution of their case without having any deal on the table—but just knowing it’s the right thing to do and hope that the level of substantial assistance that you provide is great enough where they will show lenience or mercy.”
Had she done so, Edwards said, he knows victims who would have come to court and asked prosecutors to show “extraordinary leniency” for finally helping them.
Edwards views Kellen as someone positioned one rung under Maxwell in the Epstein trafficking operation. “There came a point in time when Ghislaine got smarter and started putting buffers up and one of the buffers she put in place was Sarah.”
“Sarah is the easiest person to get whether she testifies or not, and yet she’s holding out hope that somebody will forget about her,” Edwards added. “To me, the best way for her to be forgotten is to be remembered as the person who grew a conscience at some point in time and turned around and helped.”
Edwards said that while Kellen has never aided victims’ civil lawsuits, he plans to file new ones and she will soon have an opportunity “to figure out where she wants to be aligned—either with the victims or against them.”
“While she wants to stake out some middle ground, there just isn’t one,” he said.
For her part, Kellen has never spoken publicly about her time in Epstein’s orbit. In 2013, she married 38-year-old NASCAR driver Brian Vickers, whose Instagram page showed the couple traveling in Italy, Greece, Austria and Japan, and whose racing website says he supports a group called Families Against Cult Teachings and Abuses.
Records show the couple has homes in Miami Beach, Florida, and Manhattan, New York. When a reporter approached her outside her $4-million luxury pad in December 2020, Kellen said, “I’ve been made out to be such a monster—but it’s not true. I’m a victim of Jeffrey Epstein.” She added, “I was raped and abused weekly.”
As The Daily Beast previously reported, multiple survivors of Epstein’s trafficking operation have filed lawsuits in recent years naming Kellen as one assistant who would summon them to the sex-offender’s bedroom to be sexually abused.
And, almost two decades ago, Palm Beach police nearly charged Kellen in connection to Epstein’s sex crimes. A review of a 2006 probable cause affidavit indicates that cops were prepared to charge her with two different felonies: four counts of first-degree unlawful sexual activity with a minor, and one count of lewd and lascivious molestation.
The affidavit said that when young victims arrived at Epstein’s Florida home, they were first introduced to Kellen, “Epstein’s assistant, who in turn would record their telephone numbers and name.” Victims described following Kellen upstairs to a massage room, where she’d set up a table with sheets and oils and informed them Epstein would be in soon.
Kellen also called the girls to book them for “massage” appointments when Epstein was in town, during which they were molested or raped and afterward handed a few hundred dollars.
At Maxwell’s trial, Carolyn said she visited Epstein’s mansion starting when she was 14 in 2001 until she turned 18 and became “too old” for him. She testified that during the first year or two, Maxwell would call her to schedule the abuse. Eventually Kellen would phone her or she’d contact Epstein’s estate herself, “because I was young and $300 was a lot of money to me.”
In recent years, other victims have pegged Kellen as a recruiter.
Teresa Helm, who was 22 when Epstein assaulted her in 2002, told The Daily Beast that Kellen was the first person she met from Epstein’s world. Then a massage student in California, Helm took a walk with Kellen near the Santa Monica Pier and the assistant offered her the chance to become a wealthy individual’s traveling masseuse. “I was a human baton and Sarah had the biggest hand in passing me along to Ghislaine,” Helm said.
Helm says Kellen arranged for her to fly to New York to meet Maxwell, who then sent her to Epstein’s New York townhouse to provide him with a “massage.”
“It’s facilitating the abuse,” Helm said of Kellen. “You may as well be an abuser if you’re knowing it’s happening and doing nothing. Will they go after her? Is she next?”
“For me personally, she is No. 1 on my ‘next’ list.”
Helm is among the chorus of survivors asking for Kellen to be held accountable.
Marijke Chartouni, a former model who says Epstein assaulted her in New York in 2000 when she was 20, said that his and Maxwell’s “lieutenants carry their share of responsibility in perpetrating these countless sex trafficking crimes.”
What degree of responsibility they carry, she added, has yet to be determined. “Is it the same as Maxwell? Epstein? Or were they themselves in such a controlling environment that they became blind to the morals that they had set aside?” she said.
“The only way to answer these questions is to daylight the facts and let these people be tried,” she added. “Sarah Kellen, and all her co-conspirators, must be brought to trial, for her sake, and the sake of her victims. Without this, it is inevitable that this type of abuse will continue.”
Kellen isn’t the only alleged co-conspirator accused of enabling Epstein. Victims have filed lawsuits naming Lesley Groff, a 55-year-old former executive assistant to the financier, as someone who booked their travel or appointments with Epstein. She has denied any wrongdoing in connection to her erstwhile boss.
Groff’s name also surfaced a few times at the Maxwell trial—including during the testimony of Epstein’s pilots, who said she scheduled flights—but she wasn’t called to the stand. Her spokeswoman told The Daily Beast she had been cooperative with prosecutors.
After the Maxwell verdict, Groff’s lawyers released a statement claiming Manhattan federal prosecutors would not file an indictment against her. They also said that two accusers had dropped lawsuits naming her as an enabler of Epstein’s abuse.
“After a more than two-year investigation by the Department of Justice into Jeffrey Epstein’s conduct, which included lengthy interviews of witnesses and a thorough review of relevant communications, we have been informed that no criminal charges will be brought against Lesley Groff,” the attorneys Michael Bachner and Jon Whitcomb said.
“As part of Epstein’s professional office staff,” they concluded, “Lesley never witnessed anything improper or illegal.”