December 10, 2021

A court document circulating on social media is being shared out of context and misleading some people to believe that Ghislaine Maxwell, the socialite accused of trafficking girls to have sex with financier Jeffrey Epstein, has a slew of co-defendants in her criminal trial now underway.

“I keep hearing people say ‘why aren’t they talking about the Ghislaine Maxwell case?'” said one such post sharing the document. “The answer is below.”

The document names nearly two dozen plaintiffs and hundreds of defendants, including singer Beyonce and rapper Kanye West.

This post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

The document is authentic, but it’s unrelated to the criminal charges against Maxwell, the case that is now in trial. It’s part of a separate civil complaint that a judge has already dismissed as frivolous.

Maxwell’s criminal trial, which started on Nov. 29, is taking place in federal district court in Manhattan. Court records show that she is the sole defendant in the case. The criminal docket in the case — case number 1:20-cr-003300-AJN —  does not name Beyonce, Kanye West or the other defendants named in the civil case.

The separate, civil case — case number 1:20-cv-07102-LLS — was filed in federal court in August 2020.

According to the complaint filed by Texas resident Charlene Latham, among other plaintiffs in the case, “over the course of decades, the defendants established a lucrative but sociopathic, criminal enterprise where defendants engaged in decades of human trafficking, sexual assaults and various abuses.”

A judge dismissed the case in September 2021 on grounds that it was frivolous, court records show.

We rate claims that Beyonce, Kanye West, and others are co-defendants in Maxwell’s criminal case False.

This fact check was originally published by PolitiFact, which is part of the Poynter Institute. It is republished here with permission. See the sources for this fact check here and more of their fact checks here.

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Ciara O'Rourke is a contributing writer for PolitiFact. Previously, Ciara covered local government and public safety for the Austin American-Statesman and fact-checked elected officials and…
Ciara O'Rourke

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