Parents of Ghislaine Maxwell's 'lieutenant' fear she will be charged

EXCLUSIVE: ‘I fear Sarah’s next. ‘ Parents of Ghislaine Maxwell’s ‘lieutenant’ Sarah Kellen worry their daughter will be arrested and charged in Epstein’s child sex trafficking ring, as they claim teen was ‘brainwashed’

  • Sarah Kellen worked as Jeffrey Epstein’s personal assistant for around 10 years 
  • She is accused of playing a pivotal role in Epstein’s empire: procuring girls, coaching them and acting as a ‘lieutenant’ to Ghislaine Maxwell
  • Thomas and Mary Kellen told DailyMail.com in an exclusive interview that their daughter was naive and vulnerable when she met the multi-millionaire pedophile
  • They said they knew nothing about Kellen’s work with Epstein because they became estranged from her around the time she took the job, aged 18 or 19
  • The Jehovah’s Witnesses have only seen Kellen, 41, a handful of times and still find it upsetting to see her face in family portraits or hear her name
  • ‘After Maxwell I think Sarah’s next,’ said Mary, fighting back tears as she revealed fears she could be arrested by federal agents at any moment 
  • The parents revealed an email Kellen sent them, hinting at unease over her job  
  • ‘I just hope someone doesn’t go and kill her. There are a lot of prominent, powerful people out there that don’t want anything said’
  • Kellen is now married to former NASCAR race driver Brian Vickers 

She is accused of playing a pivotal role in Jeffrey Epstein’s predatory empire: procuring girls, coaching them on how to pleasure the warped financier and acting as a ‘lieutenant’ to his alleged former Madame, Ghislaine Maxwell.

But according to her devoutly religious parents, Sarah Kellen should be treated as a victim rather than a co-conspirator because she too was groomed and manipulated after falling out with her family and going to work for Epstein in her teens.

Thomas and Mary Kellen, both Jehovah’s Witnesses, told DailyMail.com in an exclusive interview that their daughter was naive and vulnerable when she met the billionaire pedophile and could now pay a heavy price for being swept into his vile world.

‘After Maxwell I think Sarah’s next,’ said 74-year-old Mary, fighting back tears as she revealed fears the youngest of her five children could be arrested by federal agents at any moment.

‘What happened to all those girls is horrendous but I do feel that Sarah was also a victim. I’m not a psychologist or a psychiatrist but I can see she was maneuvered or brainwashed.

‘I just hope someone doesn’t go and kill her. There are a lot of prominent, powerful people out there that don’t want anything said.’

Sarah Kellen is accused of playing a pivotal role in Jeffrey Epstein’s predatory empire: procuring girls, coaching them on how to pleasure the warped financier and acting as a ‘lieutenant’ to his alleged madame, Ghislaine Maxwell. Pictured: Kellen and Epstein in 2012

It’s unclear precisely when Kellen ended her employment with Epstein, though she was photographed in 2012 strolling arm in arm with the predator near his Manhattan mansion (pictured) 

But according to her devoutly religious parents, Kellen should be treated as a victim rather than a co-conspirator because she too was groomed and manipulated after falling out with her family and going to work for Epstein in her teens. Pictured: Kellen giving Epstein a back massage at his private island 

Thomas and Mary Kellen, both Jehovah’s Witnesses, told DailyMail.com in an exclusive interview that their daughter was naive and vulnerable when she met the multi-millionaire pedophile and could now pay a heavy price for being swept into his vile world. ‘After Maxwell I think Sarah’s next,’ said 74-year-old Mary, fighting back tears as she revealed fears the youngest of her five children could be arrested by federal agents at any moment

With Epstein having hanged himself in jail, federal authorities in New York are said to be closing in on his alleged accomplices, including a coterie of glamorous female aides who managed his ‘appointments’ with underage girls.

His former lover Ghislaine Maxwell, a British socialite with links to some of the world’s richest and most influential people, is already behind bars and has been denied bail as she awaits her trial on sex trafficking charges next July.

But four more women named in legal documents as ‘potential co-conspirators’ are yet to face arrest – chief among them Kellen, who spent around a decade working as Epstein’s personal assistant.  

Kellen declined to speak with DailyMail.com but provided a statement through her spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler.

‘When Sarah was targeted by Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell, she, like many of their victims, was struggling financially and emotionally,’ the statement read.

‘Sarah was an isolated young woman, having lost the only family she’d ever known and been divorced by an older man and then cast out of her Jehovah’s Witness community.

‘Soon after Sarah was brought into Epstein’s world, he began to sexually and psychologically abuse her – abuse that endured for years.

‘Sarah was one of dozens of assistants who worked for Epstein and Maxwell over the years. One of her many duties included scheduling various appointments for them – including massages – but at no time did Sarah go out and recruit young girls for Epstein or Maxwell.

‘Epstein was known for manipulating his victims to further his abuse of others, and Sarah was no different. She continues to struggle with the trauma he inflicted upon her and so many other young women.’

ents insist they knew virtually nothing about their daughter’s duties because they became estranged from her around the time she took the job, aged 18 or 19.

The sad split came after Kellen was expelled from their church for allegedly leading an ‘immoral’ lifestyle that included nude modelling.

Since then they have seen Kellen, 41, on only a handful of occasions and still find it upsetting to see her face in family portraits or hear her name.

However Thomas, 75, a retired electrical engineer, told DailyMail.com: ‘We are sticking up for her, if that’s what you want to call it, because we still feel we know her better than anyone.

‘I think she was manipulated by Epstein due to her age and the circumstances. In my opinion she’s a victim just as much as some of the others.

‘She was told what to do and what to say. I feel she is still probably afraid to say anything – even now that he’s gone.’

Kellen was raised in rural Hendersonville, North Carolina, around an hour south of Asheville, attending the local high school before being homeschooled for her final year.

Her parents say that at 17 she married another member of her church, Noa Bonk, with their full blessing, and moved to Hawaii.

However the relationship lasted just three years amid rumors that Kellen was more interested in a glamorous life of modelling and fashion. 

Kellen spent around a decade working as Epstein’s personal assistant. Federal authorities in New York are said to be closing in on his alleged accomplices, including a coterie of glamorous female aides who managed his ‘appointments’ with underage girls. Kellen was named in legal documents a a ‘potential co-conspirator’


However the petite former Epstein aide has not been seen since new charges were brought against him last July in the Southern District of New York, accusing him of sex trafficking girls as young as 14

Epstein’s former lover Ghislaine Maxwell, a British socialite with links to some of the world’s richest and most influential people, is already behind bars awaiting her first court appearance on sex trafficking charges

‘I don’t know exactly what went on in Hawaii. Sarah did some catalogue modelling. I saw a picture online, some if it was even nude,’ Mary said.

The image in question appeared to a modelling assignment for a life drawing art class rather than pornography.

But with concerns mounting over her behavior, Kellen was disfellowshipped, a disciplinary sanction whereby she was expelled from the church and ostracized by its members, including her own family.

‘It was all handled out there. It’s very private, there’s a committee that meets and they go over everything. You’re not privy to the information even if you are her parents,’ Mary explained.

‘She wasn’t mistreated or shunned, she made her own choices. She turned her back on Jehovah God, her conduct went against the standards.

‘It put us in a position where we could not have an association with her unless it was really necessary.

‘I couldn’t look at her pictures. I had to put them all away. Even when I heard he name it was emotionally traumatic for me.’

Reached by telephone, Bonk insisted that Kellen was 18 when they wed but he declined to discuss their relationship, or the reasons for their divorce.

He is five years older than her, according to public records.

‘We were on good terms, there was no animosity,’ he told DailyMail.com. ‘She went her way and I went my way. I haven’t seen her for 19 years.   

‘I’m not defending her or sticking up for her in any way. She’s a grown adult and that’s her life. I mean, when I knew her she was a good person. That’s all I can say.’ 

Without the support of a church, husband or family, the Kellens believe their daughter was vulnerable to manipulation.

She was drawn into Epstein’s orbit when she became friends with one of his female employees.

Kellen continued to have sporadic contact with her parents via email and letter for the next few years, apologizing for causing them distress and hinting at unease over her new job. ‘I just feel so confused, it’s hard to express what I feel because half the time I’m not even sure,’ she wrote to her mother in June 2000. Pictured: Kellen at a party in the Hamptons in 2006

Her parents insist they knew virtually nothing about their daughter’s duties because they became estranged from her around the time she took the job, aged 18 or 19

The girl was commuting between Hawaii and the mainland US but when her boyfriend complained about the travelling, she volunteered Sarah for the role and set up an interview.

‘Sarah was quite young, 18 or 19. She just told us she was going to be a personal assistant to this investor,’ Mary said.

‘She would go get whatever was needed. She travelled with them. I know she was flying a lot because her husband served her divorce papers at the airport.

‘I did think that some elements of it were odd but then we’re just middle income, what do we know about what rich people do?’

Kellen continued to have sporadic contact with her parents via email and letter for the next few years, apologizing for causing them distress and hinting at unease over her new job.

‘I just feel so confused, it’s hard to express what I feel because half the time I’m not even sure,’ she wrote to her mother in June 2000.

‘I think it shows that she was very vulnerable, she sounded desperate, confused, not knowing what to do,’ said Mary.

‘She was trying to make a life for herself but of course we didn’t know what we do now, we didn’t have a clue what she was getting into.’

In a handful of face to face meetings over the next decade Mary and Thomas would glean precious few snippets about their daughter’s work – but they do recall one familiar name. 

‘She said they travelled a lot to Paris, her and Maxwell. She said they got along and that she was from a prominent family. My thought was Maxwell coffee,’ Mary said.

‘She said she had met a lot of interesting people but she never elaborated. Sarah was never one to brag.’

While her work remained a mystery to her family, it was finally laid bare in the 2008 sweetheart deal that allowed Epstein to spend just 13 months in jail, much of it out on barely-supervised work release, in exchange for pleading guilty to Florida state charges of unlawfully paying a teenage girl for sex.

It’s unclear precisely when Kellen ended her employment with Epstein, though she was photographed in 2012 strolling arm in arm with the predator near his Manhattan mansion. By then she was going under the name Kensington, had changed her hair color from blonde to brunette and was dating Brian Vickers, a NASCAR driver, whom she married a year later

Kellen and her husband, who retired from racing and is involved in various real estate and investment projects, have links to properties in North Carolina, New York and Miami.

The controversial non-prosecution agreement extended similar immunity to four ‘potential co-conspirators’ including Sarah Kellen and fellow executive assistants Adriana Ross, Lesley Groff and Nadia Marcinkova.

It meant Kellen could not face charges in Florida despite multiple girls describing how she would book them for massages and greet them they as arrived at Epstein’s Palm Beach mansion before escorting them upstairs and laying out massage oils.

According to police reports, one victim recalled Kellen and Maxwell instructing her on how to please their depraved boss. Others claimed the pair had warned them not to speak out about what was happening.

In the subsequent slew of civil lawsuits, Kellen was referred to ‘an assistant to Ghislaine’, her second in command and even the socialite’s ‘lieutenant’.

‘Sarah was really running that organization, bringing girls and getting them in and out of the Palm Beach home,’ Spencer T. Kuvin, a lawyer representing several accusers, told the New York Times.

She was also well compensated: Epstein divulged in a 2005 interview that he paid his closest assistants $200,000 a year.

‘They are an extension of my brain. Their intuition is something that I don’t have,’ he told the Chicago Tribune.

Kellen traveled on Epstein’s private jet, the Lolita Express, with former President Bill Clinton on at least 11 flights between 2002 and 2003, according to publicly available flight logs.

In 2010 civil proceedings she was asked under oath whether Epstein had ever shared ‘underage girls’ with his close friend, Britain’s Prince Andrew.

‘On the instruction of my lawyer, I must invoke my Fifth Amendment privilege,’ she replied.

It’s unclear precisely when Kellen ended her employment with Epstein though she was photographed in 2012 strolling arm in arm with the predator near his Manhattan mansion.

By then she was going under the name Kensington, had changed her hair color from blonde to brunette and was dating Brian Vickers, a NASCAR driver, whom she married a year later.

She also reinvented herself as an interior designer, starting a business named SLK Designs and boasting on social media of having numerous clients in New York, the Caribbean and Paris.

Kellen and her husband, who retired from racing and is involved in various real estate and investment projects, have links to properties in North Carolina, New York and Miami.

However the petite former Epstein aide has not been seen since new charges were brought against him last July in the Southern District of New York, accusing him of sex trafficking girls as young as 14.

Mary and Thomas can only recall two meetings with their daughter over the past decade and say they have no idea where she lives.

 While her work remained a mystery to her family, it was finally laid bare in the 2008 sweetheart deal that allowed Epstein to spend just 13 months in jail, much of it out on barely-supervised work release, in exchange for pleading guilty to Florida state charges of unlawfully paying a teenage girl for sex

 Thomas and Mary say they would gladly welcome their daughter back into the fold tomorrow but she would need to re-enter their church and demonstrate a genuine commitment to their faith

‘I wish she would have had the courage to walk away regardless of what that meant for her but I know she is traumatized,’ added Mary. ‘She’s not a bad person. She was always very thoughtful, very kind. She was a good friend to her girlfriends, a loyal friend. ‘She is our prodigal daughter, it doesn’t mean we don’t love her’

In 2011 she raced to a hospital In Raleigh, North Carolina when Thomas was undergoing quadruple heart bypass surgery following a heart attack, flying home the very next day.

Then several years later she and Vickers turned up unannounced at the childhood home where her parents still live.

‘He was very respectful, very pleasant. He told us a little bit about the wedding,’ said Mary. ‘She hadn’t invited us.’

 Mary says she tries to block what’s happening out of her mind because she expects her daughter will soon be arrested in the New York case which is not subject to the Florida sweetheart deal.

‘Epstein wasn’t the sort of sex pervert you read about that kidnaps girls and keep them in chains for years,’ she told DailyMail.com.

‘These girls went home every night and willingly came back. He didn’t need to chain them up because he had emotional and mental control.

‘I think Sarah was susceptible to that because of her age and her personality. She was estranged from her family, she didn’t know what to do or where to turn.’

Thomas and Mary say they would gladly welcome their daughter back into the fold tomorrow but she would need to re-enter their church and demonstrate a genuine commitment to their faith.

‘I wish she would have had the courage to walk away regardless of what that meant for her but I know she is traumatized,’ added Mary.

‘She’s not a bad person. She was always very thoughtful, very kind. She was a good friend to her girlfriends, a loyal friend.

‘She is our prodigal daughter, it doesn’t mean we don’t love her.’

Neither Kellen, nor her spokeswoman, Tracy Schmaler, responded to requests for comment.

Kellen was ‘extremely vulnerable, struggling financially and emotionally’, Schmaler previously told the Miami Herald.

‘Very soon after Sarah was brought into Epstein’s world, he began to sexually abuse her, and this abuse went on for years,’ she added, saying Kennel still struggles to deal with the trauma. 

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