Former British socialite and partner to American financier and convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein, Ghislaine Maxwell has been found guilty of sex trafficking.
The jury deliberated for five full days before returning the verdict, pronouncing her guilty on five of the six charges she stood accused of at the trial in New York.
The guilty verdict wraps up a month-long trial, the full details of which you can read here, in which the court heard the details of sexual abuse perpetrated by Epstein against four women during the late 1990s, some of whom were as young as 14 when the acts were committed.
Maxwell, who was considered Epstein’s partner and close confidant during his years of abuse, appeared to orchestrate much of the abuse, luring girls to his mansions in Florida, New York, and New Mexico.
During the trial, witnesses spoke of Maxwell’s manipulative approach in getting young girls to massage Epstein who would then sexually assault them. It was claimed that she offered them high-powered careers, financial support, and promises of travel and luxury goods in order to entice them into performing these massages.
Proceedings were expected to run into January, however, both the defense and prosecution rested their cases earlier than expected. The rising COVID-19 cases in New York meant that jurors were expected to work over New Year’s to reach a verdict however they appear to have made their decision just days before the end of the year.
Maxwell was convicted of conspiracy to entice a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, conspiracy to transport a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of minors and sex trafficking of minors, the last of which carries a statutory maximum of 40 years in prison.
She was acquitted of enticing a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, and now faces decades in prison for the crimes.
As the verdict was read out, Maxwell said nothing, although she appeared to have difficulty in standing when rising for the reading. She was walked out of the courtroom, glancing only briefly at her siblings who were also in attendance.
The jury rejected Maxwell’s claims that her accusers were making allegations against her for financial gain and lying about their experiences. The judge also rejected the idea that she was being scapegoated for the crimes of her former partner who took his own life in 2019.
US attorney Damien Williams released a statement soon after the verdict was read, saying that Maxwell has been found guilty of “one of the worst crimes imaginable, facilitating and participating in the sexual abuse of children.”
“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,” he said. “Their courage and willingness to face their abuser made today’s result in this case possible”.
Maxwell faces two further charges of perjury relative to a 2016 civil deposition case and will return to court at a later date to face them.
The judge in the case, Alison Nathan, did not set a sentencing date.