Ghislaine Maxwell has been found guilty of recruiting underage girls to be sexually abused by Jeffrey Epstein.
The 60-year-old British socialite and ex-girlfriend of late billionaire financier Epstein is now facing the prospect of years in prison.
She was accused of recruiting and grooming four teenagers for Epstein to molest in massage rooms between 1994 and 2004 at his various properties.
Maxwell, who was described as “dangerous” and Epstein’s “partner in crime” by the prosecution during her three-week trial, was convicted on five of the six counts she was charged with.
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Maxwell was found guilty of “conspiracy to entice” underage girls to be abused by Epstein as well as transporting and sex trafficking the teenagers.
She was cleared of “enticing a girl under 17 (an accuser with the pseudonym Jane) to travel with intent to engage in illegal sexual activity”.
That count alleged the defendant coerced Jane to travel from Florida to Manhattan so Epstein could have sex with her.
As the verdicts were read out in a federal court in New York, 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.
Reacting to the guilty verdicts, the Maxwell family later said in a statement: “We believe firmly in our sister’s innocence – we are very disappointed with the verdict. We have already started the appeal tonight and we believe that she will ultimately be vindicated”.
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The trial lasted 13 days, including 10 days for the prosecution case and two days for the defence, and heard from 33 witnesses.
The prosecution claimed Maxwell was a “sexual predator” and motivated by money, presenting a case that hinged around the searing and sometimes emotional testimony of the four accusers who took the stand.
One woman, Annie Farmer, waived her anonymity, another took the stand using only her first name, Carolyn, while two others, Jane and Kate, testified under a pseudonym.
Ms Farmer was introduced to Epstein by her sister, who worked in his office in New York.
She claimed she was flown to his sprawling ranch in New Mexico under the impression it was part of a scholarship programme with dozens of other students, but arrived to find she was there alone, apart from Epstein and Maxwell.
She said Maxwell instructed her how to give a foot massage to Epstein and later massaged Ms Farmer’s “chest and upper breasts”.
Carolyn, who was from a disadvantaged family in Florida’s West Palm Beach, cried as she told the court she was sexually abused by Epstein and Maxwell from the age of 14.
She said that she would be paid $200 a time to give Epstein massages, which would always end with sexual contact. Carolyn said on one occasion Maxwell had groped her “boobs, hips and buttocks” before telling her she had a “good body for Mr Epstein and his friends”.
Another accuser, Kate, said she had a schoolgirl outfit laid out for her by Maxwell before a sexualised massage with Epstein.
Kate said the defendant then told her to take Epstein his tea in the outfit, and when asked by the accuser why the outfit was on her bed, Maxwell said she “thought it would be fun”.
The five counts she was convicted of were conspiracy to entice minors to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, conspiracy to transport minors with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, sex trafficking conspiracy, and sex trafficking of a minor.
Reacting to the convictions, US attorney Damian Williams 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.”
Ms Farmer’s lawyer, Sigrid McCawley, said: “Today’s verdict is a towering victory not just for the brave women who testified in this trial, but for the women around the world whose young and tender lives were diminished and damaged by the abhorrent actions of Ghislaine Maxwell.”
Lawyer Jack Scarola, who represented Carolyn, said: “The conviction of Ghislaine Maxwell is a welcome confirmation of the veracity of the charges brought against her on behalf of the very brave young women whom she directly participated in abusing.”
Virginia Giuffre, an alleged victim of Epstein and Maxwell, tweeted: “My soul yearned for justice for years and today the jury gave me just that. I will remember this day always.
“Having lived with the horrors of Maxwell’s abuse, my heart goes out to the many other girls and young women who suffered at her hands and whose lives she destroyed. I hope that today is not the end but rather another step in justice being served. Maxwell did not act alone. Others must be held accountable. I have faith that they will be.”
Maxwell had denied the charges in court and her defence claimed she was being scapegoated for the crimes of Epstein, who died by apparent suicide in 2019, while charged with operating a vast network of teenage girls to abuse.
Maxwell has spent almost a year and a half in prison in New York, and she and her family have repeatedly complained about the conditions at the Metropolitan Detention Centre in Brooklyn.
She will be sentenced at a later date.
She also faces two perjury charges, which defence lawyers successfully argued should be tried separately.