Ghislaine Maxwell convicted of grooming and trafficking underage girls for Jeffrey Epstein

Ghislaine Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein
Prosecutors tried to link Ms Maxwell to Jeffrey Epstein by showing the jury intimate photos like this one (Image: US Attorney's Office SDNY)
Ghislaine Maxwell has been found guilty at her trial in New York. The jury found the 60-year-old guilty on five of six counts – including the most serious charge, that of sex trafficking of a minor.  This carries a possible 40-year sentence, which means the 60-year-old could spend the rest of her life behind bars. This charge relates to the testimony of Carolyn, who testified about being paid for sex during visits to Epstein’s Florida home between 2001 and 2004.At the time of her first visit, she was just 14.
They five guilty counts are:

Count One: conspiracy to entice minors to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison

This count charges Maxwell with knowingly and wilfully participating in plans to encourage or coax underage girls to travel across state lines for criminal sexual activity. It applies to multiple alleged victims between 1994 and 2004.

Count Three: conspiracy to transport minors with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison;

Like count one, this also charges Maxwell with knowingly and wilfully participating in plans to encourage or coax underage girls to travel.

Count Four: transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison;

This count charges Maxwell with knowingly helping Jane travel across state lines, between 1994 and 1997, intending for her to have sex with Epstein. A former pilot of Epstein testified that a woman named “Jane” was aboard Epstein’s private plane on flights to and from Michigan, and this is backed up by flight logs released by prosecutors.

Count Five: conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of minors, which carries a statutory maximum of five years in prison;

This count charges Maxwell with knowingly and wilfully participating in plans to recruit underage girls to have illegal sex by force, fraud or coercion. It applies to multiple alleged victims between 1994 and 2004.

Count Six: sex trafficking of a minor, which carries a statutory maximum of 40 years in prison.

This count charges Maxwell with recruiting an underage girl – “Carolyn” – to have sex with Epstein and others by force, fraud or coercion, between the years 2001 to 2004. Carolyn described to the court “hundreds” of paid sexual encounters at Epstein’s Florida home from age 14 to 18; much of her testimony was also corroborated by her ex-boyfriend.

There was a sense of anticipation in the air as the packed courtroom awaited a verdict, reports BBC producer Kizzy Cox from the courthouse.

Not a sound was heard as the judge read the guilty verdict – including from Maxwell who was dressed in a dark sweater and black face mask.

She showed no visible sign of emotion, only pouring herself a glass of water, which she sipped from twice.

One of her lawyers put his arm around her briefly before she was led out of the court.

At earlier stages in the trial, she has appeared upbeat, chatting with journalists in the court.

What did Maxwell’s accusers tell the jurors?

Four women took the stand at Maxwell’s trial. All 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.

The first accuser, Jane, said she had been molested by Epstein from the age of 14. She said Maxwell had “instructed” her on how to massage Epstein and had been “very casual” about the abuse “like it was not a big deal”.

A British woman, Kate, said Maxwell had asked her if she knew any “cute, young, pretty girls – like you” who could have sex with Epstein. She alleged that the socialite had often called her a “good girl” and had asked if she was having “fun” when she was with the paedophile, and had even laid out a schoolgirl dress for her to wear.

Carolyn, a third woman, said she had been to Epstein’s Florida home “hundreds of times” between the ages of 14 to 18, with Maxwell calling to set up the massage appointments and then paying her after. An ex-boyfriend of hers corroborated the testimony, saying he had driven her to and from the home, and had seen the money.

Annie Farmer – who called Maxwell a “sexual predator” and “psychopath” in previous court hearings – pointed at the defendant and accused her of groping her in a topless massage at age 16. Ms Farmer also said Maxwell had neither said nor done anything as Epstein had felt her up at a movie theatre.

‘Justice has been done’

US Attorney Damian Williams released a statement welcoming the verdict and commending the “bravery” of the victims who came forward.

“A unanimous jury has found Ghislaine Maxwell guilty of one of the worst crimes imaginable – facilitating and participating in the sexual abuse of children,” the statement said.

“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.”

Who was Jeffrey Epstein?

The disgraced financier and convicted child sex offender was at the centre of the allegations against Maxwell, his former girlfriend and long-time associate.

Born and raised in New York, the university drop-out taught at a private school in the city in the 1970s before becoming an investment banker on Wall Street and rising rapidly up the chain.

By 1982, he had created his own firm – J Epstein and Co. The company was an instant success.

He also began rubbing elbows with some of the world’s most recognisable people, like Prince Andrew, Donald Trump and former President Bill Clinton.

In 2005, the parents of a 14-year-old girl told police in Florida that Epstein had molested their daughter at his Palm Beach home. A police search of the property found photos of girls throughout the house.

Prosecutors eventually forged a deal with Epstein in 2008 and he avoided federal charges, instead receiving an 18-month prison sentence.

In July 2019, Epstein was arrested in New York, accused of having run a “vast network” of underage girls for sex.

He died in his cell on 10 August 2019 while awaiting trial, and his death was ruled a suicide.

Jeffrey Epstein standing with Ghislaine Maxwell.

Maxwell no longer able to run away

Analysis box by Nada Tawfik, New York correspondent

The first time I saw Ghislaine Maxwell, I followed her from the door of her luxurious brownstone down the streets of Manhattan, asking her about the horrific allegations against her.

A decade later, I saw her for the final time, in court and no longer able to run away from the truth about her life with Jeffrey Epstein.

This sex trafficking ring was not for profit but for the sick pleasure of the two powerful individuals.

The pair ran in influential social circles and often name-dropped friends in high places such as Bill Clinton, Donald Trump or Prince Andrew. That enchanted their victims, lured by gifts and promises to help their careers and schooling.

Prosecutors said the process of “grooming” teenage girls for abuse was a key part of Maxwell’s “playbook”.

Their jaw-dropping wealth and connections were also key in another way – they intimidated and silenced their victims and shielded the duo from scrutiny.

Source: bbc.co.uk

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