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Ghislaine Maxwell pictured in New York City in 2014 (file photo) Alamy Stock Photo
jeffrey epstein

Ghislaine Maxwell found guilty of sex trafficking crimes

The British socialite denied recruiting and grooming young girls to be abused by late financier Jeffrey Epstein.

GHISLAINE MAXWELL HAS been found guilty of recruiting and grooming young girls to be abused by late financier Jeffrey Epstein.

Maxwell was convicted by a 12-person jury of five of the six counts she was facing including the most serious charge of sex trafficking a minor.

She was found not guilty on count two – the enticement of a minor to travel with intent to engage in illegal sexual activity.

As the verdict was read, Ghislaine Maxwell appeared to show little reaction behind a black mask.

She stood with her hands folded as the jury filed out, and glanced at her siblings as she herself was led from the courtroom.

Judge Alison Nathan read out the verdicts for each of the counts, and offered her “sincere thanks” to the jury for their service, adding that they served with “diligence.”

The charges stem from 1994 to 2004. Maxwell was convicted of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of minors, which carries a statutory maximum of 40 years in prison.

Her conviction for transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity carries a maximum sentence of 10 years, while conspiracy to transport a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity carries a maximum of five years in prison.

The final charge of sex trafficking minors carries a statutory maximum of five years in prison. Despite the maximum terms for each conviction, her sentence will be up to the sole discretion of the judge.

No date was set for her sentencing.

Jurors deliberated for five full days before finding Maxwell guilty, and had to reach a unanimous decision on each count.

Following the verdict, a statement issued by the US attorney’s office said: “A unanimous jury has found Ghislaine Maxwell guilty of one of the worst crimes imaginable – facilitating and participating in the sexual abuse of children. Crimes that she committed with her long-time partner and co-conspirator, Jeffrey Epstein.

The road to justice has been far too long. But, today, justice has been done. I want to commend the bravery of the girls – now grown women – who stepped out of the shadows and into the courtroom.
Their courage and willingness to face their abuser made this case, and today’s result, possible.

“I also want to thank the career prosecutors of the Southern District of New York, who embraced the victims’ quest for justice and have worked tirelessly, day in and day out, to ensure that Maxwell was held accountable for her crimes.

“This office will always stand with victims, will always follow the facts wherever they lead, and will always fight to ensure that no-one, no matter how powerful and well connected, is above the law.”

Maxwell, a former British socialite and the daughter of the late newspaper baron Robert Maxwell, turned 60 on Christmas Day.

The 12 jurors deliberated for about an hour following several hours of closing arguments and lengthy instructions from judge Alison Nathan about how they should weigh the sex trafficking charges.

US prosecutors told the jury Maxwell was a “sophisticated predator who knew exactly what she was doing”.

“It is time to hold her accountable,” prosecutor Alison Moe said, summing up the government’s case.

Maxwell’s defence team countered this during its own closing arguments, arguing that there was a “lack of evidence” to convict.

American money-manager Epstein (66) killed himself in jail two years ago while awaiting his own sex crimes trial.

Moe said Maxwell was “the key” to Epstein’s scheme of enticing young girls to give him massages, during which he would sexually abuse them.

“They were partners in crime,” she added.

‘Motivated by money’

During the high-profile three-week trial in Manhattan, Moe cited bank records showing that Maxwell received $30 million (around €26.5 million) from Epstein between 1999 and 2007 as evidence that her participation was motivated by money.

Maxwell regularly made notes that she passed to her defence counsel as Moe recounted lurid testimony given by four accusers.

Two said they were as young as 14 when Maxwell allegedly began grooming them and arranging for them to give massages to Epstein that ended in sexual activity.

One, identified only as ‘Jane’, detailed how Maxwell recruited her at summer camp and made her feel “special”. She said sexual encounters with Epstein became routine, with Maxwell sometimes present.

Another, going by ‘Carolyn’, said she was usually paid $300 (about €265) after sexual encounters with Epstein, often by Maxwell herself.

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A third alleged victim was Annie Farmer, now 42, who said Maxwell fondled her breasts when she was a teenager at the New Mexico ranch owned by Epstein.

Laura Menninger, for the defence, questioned the women’s ability to recollect quarter-century-old events, accusing them of seeking to profit from payouts from Epstein’s estate.

They “all changed their stories when the Epstein compensation fund opened up”, Menninger told the court.

‘Not proven’

Maxwell’s attorneys put just nine witnesses on the stand over two days.

They called psychologist Elizabeth Loftus, an expert on “false memories”, whose testimony was intended to challenge the recollections of the accusers.

The defence also argued that Maxwell was being used as a “scapegoat” for Epstein’s crimes after he evaded justice.

“There is no evidence that Ghislaine Maxwell groomed any of the four,” Menninger said, urging the jury to acquit on all counts.

The socialite declined to take the stand but made a brief statement to the judge.

“Your honour, the government has not proven its case beyond reasonable doubt so there is no need for me to testify,” she said.

With reporting from Órla Ryan, PA, and © AFP 2021