British Social Democrat Ghislaine Maxwell was on Wednesday convicted of five federal charges of sex trafficking after a jury concluded she played a crucial role in recruiting and caring for teenage girls to be sexually abused by her close confidant, wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein.
Maxwell was found guilty of five of the six federal charges she was charged with and faces up to 65 years in prison. The judge has not set a date for the verdict.
The jury of six men and six women reached the verdict in the federal lawsuit over sex trafficking in New York City after six days of deliberations that put an end to the holiday weekend. As the deliberations dragged on, U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan, who oversaw the case, said the omicron variant of coronavirus and rising numbers in the city could lead to a lawsuit, and she had told the jury that if no verdict was handed down, it should be considered through the holiday weekends.
Late Wednesday, however, the jury came to its conclusion.
Maxwell was convicted of conspiracy to lure a minor to travel to engage in illegal sexual acts, conspiracy to transport a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity , conspiracy to commit sex trafficking in minors and sex trafficking in minors.
She was not found guilty of enticing a minor to travel to engage in illegal sexual acts, resulting in a five-year prison sentence.
When the verdict was read, Maxwell appeared to be sitting still and not looking back at the crowd behind her. When the chairman of the jury had finished reading, Maxwell poured herself a cup of water, drank it, and conferred with one of her lawyers, Jeffrey Pagliuca, who was sitting to her right.
After another of Maxwell’s lawyers confirmed she could have a Covid-19 booster shot in custody, she briefly looked back at her siblings, who were sitting in the front row before being taken away.
Virginia Giuffre, one of the first victims of Maxwell and Epstein to appear, but not one of the victims mentioned in this case, said she would “always remember this day.”
“After living with the horrors of Maxwell’s abuse, my heart goes out to the many other girls and young women who suffered at her hands and whose lives she ruined,” Giuffre said.
“I hope today is not the end, but rather another step in that justice will be served,” she added. “Maxwell did not act alone. Others must be held accountable. I believe they will.”
Giuffre has in a civil lawsuit claimed that Maxwell traded her to Prince Andrew, a son of Queen Elizabeth II when she was 17. He has denied the allegations.
Damian Williams, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said the jury had found Maxwell guilty “of one of the worst crimes imaginable,” which she “committed with her longtime partner and accomplice, Jeffrey Epstein.”
“The road to justice has been far too long. But today, justice has been done, “he said in a statement.” I would like to commend the bravery of the girls – now adult women – who stepped out of the shadows and into the courtroom. Their courage and willingness to face their abuser made this case, and the outcome of the day, possible. “
Sigrid McCawley, lawyer for Annie Farmer, a victim in the trial, said the verdict made it clear that the abuse and trafficking of minors were serious crimes.
“Today’s verdict is a towering victory, not only for the brave women who testified in this trial, but for women around the world whose young and tender lives were diminished and damaged by Ghislaine Maxwell’s heinous acts,” she said in a statement.
The jury weighed evidence and testimony from about 30 witnesses over three weeks.
Maxwell, daughter of the late publishing mogul Robert Maxwell, turned 60 on Christmas Day. She has been incarcerated since she was arrested in July 2020. The trial in lower Manhattan grabbed headlines and put Maxwell – once trapped in New York’s high society – in the spotlight over her relationship with Epstein.
The jury began deliberating Monday before Christmas, asking to review the testimony of the four women, as well as Epstein’s former housekeeper Juan Patricio Alessi, who testified that he regularly saw two of the women at Epstein’s mansion in Palm Beach, Florida.
The judge asked the juries whether they would continue the discussions on Thursday, but they declined ahead of the holiday weekend. They returned Monday, requesting further testimonials, highlighters, a white paper board, post-it notes and the definition of the word “seduction”.
Maxwell’s defense team claimed that it was Epstein who pulled the strings and that federal prosecutors were trying to take her down just because Epstein, a convicted sex addict, was hanging himself in a prison cell in Manhattan two years ago while awaiting trial. on charges of sex trafficking.
“She’s being brought to justice here for being with Jeffrey Epstein. Maybe it was the biggest mistake of her life, but it was not a crime,” defense attorney Laura Menninger said in concluding arguments.
Prosecutors claimed Maxwell was not an unwilling participant when her lawyers portrayed her and that she was known on Epstein’s Florida property as the “lady of the house.” While several women stood up before Epstein’s death, claiming he had sexually abused them – some of them claiming Maxwell helped trade them to other powerful men – prosecutors focused their case on the testimony of the four prosecutors.
They provided graphic accounts of how they say Maxwell “used” them as young girls to have sex with Epstein or pressured them to massage, where she sometimes groped them herself. Maxwell denied having helped recruit and engage in the trade in young girls, mostly in the 1990s.
Maxwell was charged with six counts of acts allegedly committed from 1994 to 1997 and charged with lying to investigators in 2016. She was also charged with perjury; these counts will be tested separately.
One of the prosecutors, who went by the pseudonym Jane, testified that she was only 14 when Maxwell and Epstein saw her at an art camp in Michigan. Her allegations of sexual abuse helped prosecutors establish several of the charges in the federal case.
Prosecutors’ memoirs were called into question when Maxwell’s defense team chose inconsistencies in their testimony and asked an expert witness specializing in psychology to explain how their memories could have been “contaminated” over time. They also suggested that prosecutors were simply chasing millions of dollars in disbursements from a special fund to compensate Epstein’s victims. About $ 121 million had been given to about 150 victims as of this summer.
Federal prosecutors cracked down on the charges, telling jurors that Maxwell covered for Epstein and “never thought teenage girls would stand up to them.”
“If money was all they wanted, they could have gone away when the check was cleared,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Maurene Comey, daughter of former FBI Director James Comey.