guilty | 

Verdict is in as British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell learns her fate in New York courtroom

Jurors deliberated for five full days before finding Maxwell guilty of five of six counts.
Jeffrey Epstein with Ghislaine Maxwell

Jeffrey Epstein with Ghislaine Maxwell

British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell has been found guilty of luring teenage girls to be sexually abused by the American millionaire Jeffrey Epstein.

The verdict capped a month long trial featuring accounts of the sexual exploitation of girls as young as 14, told by four women who described being abused as teens in the 1990s and early 2000s at Epstein’s palatial homes in Florida, New York and New Mexico.

Jurors deliberated for five full days before finding Maxwell guilty of five of six counts.

She faces the likelihood of years in prison — an outcome long sought by women who spent years fighting in civil courts to hold Maxwell accountable for her role in recruiting and grooming Epstein’s teenage victims and sometimes joining in the sexual abuse.

The defense had insisted Maxwell was a victim of a vindictive prosecution devised to deliver justice to women deprived of their main villain when Epstein killed himself while awaiting trial in 2019.

During the trial, prosecutors called 24 witnesses to give jurors a picture of life inside Epstein’s homes — a subject of public fascination and speculation ever since his 2006 arrest in Florida in a child sex case.

A housekeeper testified he was expected to be “blind, deaf and dumb” about the private lives of Epstein, a financier who cultivated friendships with influential politicians and business tycoons, and Maxwell, who had led a jet-setting lifestyle as the favourite child of a media mogul.

Jurors saw physical evidence like a folding massage table once used by Epstein and a “black book” that listed contact information for some of the victims under the heading “massages.”

There were bank records showing he had transferred $30.7 million to Maxwell, his longtime companion — one-time girlfriend, later employee.

But the core of the prosecution was the testimony of four women who said they were victimized by Maxwell and Epstein at tender ages.

Three testified using first names or pseudonyms to protect their privacy: Jane, a television actress; Kate, a former model from Great Britain; and Carolyn, now a mom recovering from drug addiction. The fourth was Annie Farmer, a psychologist who chose to use her real name after being vocal about her allegations in recent years.

They echoed one another in their descriptions of Maxwell’s behavior: She used charm and gifts to gain their trust, taking an interest in their adolescent challenges and giving them assurances that Epstein could use his wealth and connections to fulfill their dreams.

They said the script would darken when Maxwell coaxed them into giving massages to Epstein that turned sexual, encounters she played off as normal: After one sexual massage, Kate, then 17, said Maxwell asked her if she’d had fun and told her: “You are such a good girl.”

Carolyn testified that she was one of several underprivileged teens who lived near Epstein’s Florida home in the early 2000s and took up an offer to give massages in exchange for $100 bills, which prosecutors described as “a pyramid of abuse.”

Maxwell made all the arrangements, Carolyn told the jury, even though she knew the girl was only 14 at the time.

A statement from the US attorney's office said: "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.

"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."

The legal fights involving Epstein and Maxwell are not over.

Maxwell still awaits trial on two counts of perjury.


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