Sunday 23 January 2022
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Maxwell guilty of helping Epstein abuse girls

Ghislaine Maxwell… committed crimes hand in hand with Jeffrey Epstein. She was a grown woman who knew exactly what she was doing: Assistant US Attorney

A longtime associate of convicted child sex offender Epstein, Ghislaine Maxwell has been found guilty of recruiting and trafficking young girls to be sexually abused by the late American financier. The 60-year-old woman was found guilty on five of the six counts she faced — including the most serious charge, that of sex trafficking a minor.

The court reached the verdict after five full days of deliberation by a 12-person jury in New York. The British socialite could spend the rest of her behind bars.

The verdict followed a month-long trial that featured testimony from four women who testified that they had been abused by Epstein between 1994 and 2004.

No sign of emotion was apparent on Maxwell’s face as the verdict was read out on yesterday, only pouring herself a glass of water that she sipped from twice.

Shortly after the judgment, a of lawyers who stood for her said they were already working on an appeal. “We firmly believe in Ghislaine’s innocence,” her lawyer, Bobbi Sternheim, told reporters.

Annie Farmer, one of the women who testified against Maxwell, said: “I am so relieved and grateful that the jury recognised [her] pattern of predatory behaviour.”

“I hope that this verdict brings solace to all who need it and demonstrates that no one is above the law,” she said.

Maxwell has been found guilty of:

  1. sex trafficking of a minor, which carries a maximum sentence of 40 years
  2. transporting a minor with the intent to engage in sexual activity, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years
  3. conspiracy to transport minors with intent to engage in sexual activity, which carries a maximum sentence of five years
  4. conspiracy to entice minors to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, which carries a maximum sentence of five years
  5. conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of minors, which also carries a maximum sentence of five years
    She was found not guilty of one count — enticement of a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts.

US Attorney Damian Williams welcomed the verdict and commended the “bravery” of the victims who came forward.

Maxwell has been in jail since July 2020 when she was charged with involvement in the financier’s abuse of teenage girls. Some of the victims were as young as 14.

Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell
Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell [Photo courtesy: US Attorney’s Office]

Epstein took his own in 2019 while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.

A well-connected socialite, Maxwell is the youngest daughter of the disgraced newspaper tycoon Robert Maxwell who died in 1991.

Soon after her father’s death, Maxwell left the UK to settle in America where she worked in real estate and eventually met Epstein.

The pair’s romantic relationship reportedly lasted only a few years, but she continued to work with him long after and is said to have introduced Epstein to wealthy and powerful figures including Bill Clinton and Prince Andrew.

During the trial, Maxwell’s lawyers repeatedly argued that she was a scapegoat for Epstein’s crimes. Prosecutors, meanwhile, sought to link the duo as “partners in crime” who ran a “pyramid of abuse”.

Prosecutors cited bank records showing that she received $30 million (£22 million) from Epstein between 1999 and 2007 as evidence that she was motivated by money.

All of the women who testified said they had been sexually abused by Epstein before they turned 18, and that Maxwell had urged, facilitated and even participated in the sexual encounters.

Only one woman, Annie Farmer, used her real name in her testimony, while the others used pseudonyms to protect their identity.

“Ghislaine Maxwell… committed crimes hand in hand with Jeffrey Epstein. She was a grown woman who knew exactly what she was doing,” Assistant US Attorney Alison Moe said.

Virginia Giuffre is one of Maxwell and Epstein’s most prominent accusers and has also said she was forced to have sex with Prince Andrew three times. The Duke of York denies the allegations.

“My soul yearned for justice for years and today the jury gave me just that. I will remember this day always,” she tweeted.

A date for Maxwell’s sentencing has not yet been set.

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