Chasing Ghislaine Vicky Ward Discovery Jeffrey Epstein
Ghislaine Maxwell pictured in Chasing Ghislaine on Discovery+, courtesy of the Factual America podcast.

British investigative journalist Vicky Ward had a “deeply unpleasant experience” interviewing Jeffrey Epstein nearly 20 years ago. Now, she’s the host and co-producer of the Discovery+ docuseries Chasing Ghislaine, which seeks to unravel the secrets of Epstein’s wealth via one of his closest associates, Ghislaine Maxwell. The docuseries is the subject of a recent episode of the Factual America podcast.

You can watch the interview with Ward above, or listen on Apple, Spotify, Google, or right here:

“It was such a deeply, deeply, deeply unpleasant experience. I’ve never had such a horrific experience reporting, before or since that,” Ward said of her interviews with Epstein all those years ago. “Because it became so personal for me, and because it became so wound up in the birth of my children who were born very prematurely and I had to place guards on them and the rest of it, I had not wanted to address the topic of Jeffrey Epstein again.”

But Ward’s keen journalistic instincts got the best of her. Now that Epstein is dead — the wealthy financier died mysteriously in prison while awaiting trial in 2019 — and Maxwell is on trial for sex trafficking charges, she’s combing back through her former reporting in the hopes of unraveling the mysterious web that tied Epstein and Maxwell together.

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Maxwell’s sex-trafficking trial, during which she was accused of recruiting teen girls for Epstein to sexually exploit, wrapped up this week, but the judge has suspended deliberations until Monday, according to CNN. Maxwell pleaded not guilty to six federal counts including sex trafficking of a minor, enticing a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, and three counts of conspiracy, CNN reports, and if convicted she faces up to 70 years in prison.

Chasing Ghislaine is really my effort to go out and re-report an investigative story that I started almost 20 years ago, when I was tasked by Vanity Fair magazine, for whom I was working at the time, to go and find out how this very mysterious reclusive guy in New York called Jeffrey Epstein made his money. And that turned into a very unpleasant experience for me. He rather infamously threatened me, threatened my unborn children. I had a frightening pregnancy and a frightening birth as a result. And although the resulting piece did show that he certainly wasn’t who he claimed to be business-wise, it didn’t answer the question of really how he had made so much money. And also, what had happened, that I wasn’t expecting, was that two sisters, Maria and Annie Farmer, had sort of come my way, and had told me – on the record – stories, they claimed, of sexual abuse by Jeffrey Epstein that did put Ghislaine in the room, and in one case, giving a topless massage. And [when] I say Ghislaine, I’m talking about Ghislaine Maxwell,” Ward said.

The verbal abuse and threats she endured from Epstein during her reporting for Vanity Fair are still with her nearly two decades later. But by experiencing his intimidation tactics, Ward also learned a little bit about how Epstein operated.

“He was a narcissist, and like all narcissists, he couldn’t help boasting. And so, whilst he had told me a lot of lies, he had also told me some truths, and I was also able to see how cleverly he had been able to zero in on my one sort of Achilles heel at the time. My Achilles heel, my vulnerability, was the fact that I had a high-risk pregnancy with twins, and when you’re pregnant like that, you don’t want somebody asking you about your hospitals and your doctors and telling you they’re going to have a witch doctor place a curse on your unborn children and telling you they can get your husband fired from his job and that they’ve got a dossier,” she said.

“You’re particularly susceptible. And I realized, all these years later, that it was incredibly clever of him to have realized that the one thing that would really put me on my back foot was to keep talking about my pregnancy or threaten my home security at the time. And I then realized, well, if he was able to do that with me, and I was a 33-year-old journalist, but I’m a pretty tough reporter, then I could see how certainly young girls wouldn’t have a prayer against him.”

Ward realized that her interview transcripts might hold the key to answering some questions about the source of Epstein’s wealth.

“When Ghislaine Maxwell was arrested, I realized that number one, I’d been sitting on all these tapes — transcripts of recorded conversations that I had with Jeffrey Epstein. They had never seen the light of day and that very few people had ever heard his voice. And that what these transcripts — and there were 450 pages of them — really did was show how he was so incredibly manipulative, because despite all the ink and there’s been so much of it, so much press around him, he himself, and his character, and who he was, and how he weaseled his way in everywhere, it hasn’t been explained,” she said. “I believed that if I went out and re-reported this story that had begun nearly 20 years ago, using her and trying to really unravel what the actual nature of her relationship to him really was, that maybe, finally, we could get some answers.”

Chasing Ghislaine is produced for Discovery+ and ID by Blackfin in association with James Patterson Entertainment with Ward, Geno McDermott, Bill Robinson, and Emily M. Bernstein also serving as Executive Producers. Pamela Deutsch is executive producer for Discovery+ and ID.

Here are the time stamps for the Vicky Ward interview:

00:00 – The trailer from the docuseries Chasing Ghislaine.
03:08 – What the documentary is all about.
10:24 – The narcissistic nature of Jeffrey Epstein and how he got under people’s skin.
18:13 – Vicky’s relationship with Annie Farmer and her cross-examination.
22:11 – What the media isn’t reporting about the trial.
26:39 – The difficult position the jury is in.
31:44 – Why the prosecution hasn’t brought forward some key witnesses.
36:29 – The importance of hearing the defence’s case before making judgment.
42:14 – The mystery around Robert Maxwell and how Ghislaine and Epstein met.
49:08 – The range of litigations and cases related to Epstein.
53:26 – Why Vicky feels less vulnerable producing a podcast than writing a book.
55:54 – The difference in writing content for podcasts rather than books.
58:35 – The next project Vicky’s working on which focuses on a gothic murder mystery.
1:01:30 – The legacy Vicky hopes to leave with her Chasing Ghislaine docuseries.
1:03:28 – A clip showing Jeffrey Epstein’s relationship towards women.

Factual America examines America through the lens of documentary filmmaking. Guests include Academy Award, Emmy and Grammy-winning filmmakers and producers, their subjects, as well as experts on the American experience. We discuss true crime, music, burning social and political topics, history and arts with the creators of the latest and upcoming documentary films in theatres and on the most popular digital platforms. This podcast is produced by Alamo Pictures, a London- and Austin-based production company that makes documentaries about the US from a European perspective for international audiences.

All three episodes of Chasing Ghislaine are now streaming on Discovery+.

Main Image: Ghislaine Maxwell pictured in Chasing Ghislaine on Discovery+, courtesy of the Factual America podcast.