British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell has been found guilty of sex crimes including the most serious charge of sex trafficking a minor.
British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell was found guilty on Wednesday of recruiting and grooming young girls to be sexually abused by the late American financier Jeffrey Epstein.
Maxwell was convicted by a 12-person jury of five of the six counts she was facing including the most serious charge of sex trafficking a minor.
The New York Post reports Maxwell showed no emotion as she was hauled out of federal court in Lower Manhattan after the reading of the unanimous verdict.
The 60-year-old daughter of the late British press baron Robert Maxwell could potentially spend the rest of her life behind bars.
Conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of minors carries a maximum 40-year sentence. The lesser charges have terms of five or 10 years Maxwell sat passively in the Manhattan courtroom, slowly removing her mask to take sips of water, as Judge Alison Nathan read out the verdicts for each of the six counts.
Nathan offered her “sincere thanks” to the jury for their service, adding that they served with “diligence.”
At 5:10pm local time Nathan adjourned the proceedings and Maxwell walked out of the courtroom into detention as she has done every day of the trial.
No date was set for her sentencing.
The charges against Maxwell stemmed from 1994 to 2004.
Two of Epstein’s alleged victims said they were as young as 14 when Maxwell allegedly began grooming them and arranging for them to give massages to Epstein that ended in sexual activity.
The first accuser to take the stand, who testified under the pseudonym “Jane,” told the jury that she met Maxwell and Epstein when the pair approached her at a Michigan arts camp in the early 1990s when she was 14 years old.
From there, the teen was groomed for abuse at Epstein’s Palm Beach mansion by Maxwell, who exposed her to nudity and sexualised conversations in an attempt to normalise the behaviour, prosecutors alleged.
“She would ask me what I was up to, if I had a boyfriend,” Jane testified, adding that Maxwell claimed to her about dating, “Once you f – k them, you can always f – k them again because they’re grandfathered in.”
At Epstein’s mansion, Maxwell and the twisted millionaire money man abused the teen together and in group sex sessions with other women, Jane testified.
In 1994, Jane said, the financier and Maxwell led her upstairs to his bedroom, moved her over to the bed and “took their clothes off.
“They started to sort of like fondle each other,” she said, adding that they were “casually giggling” as she stood there.
“He asked me to take my top off,” she said of Epstein, who killed himself behind bars while awaiting trial in Manhattan in 2019.
“Then there were hands everywhere, and Jeffrey proceeded to masturbate again. And Ghislaine was like rubbing on him, kissing on him.”
Maxwell and Epstein repeated this “playbook” to lure in other underage girls for him to abuse, including the three other victims who testified at trial, prosecutors said.
In most cases, the pair preyed on vulnerable girls from single-parent homes, prosecutors said.
“Selecting these girls was predatory behaviour. Maxwell and Epstein picked vulnerable girls,” Moe said in her closing statement.
Another accuser who testified using her first name Carolyn said she was introduced to Maxwell and Epstein at age 14 through Virginia Roberts Giuffre, a teen she knew from her West Palm Beach neighbourhood.
Carolyn had been sexually abused by her grandfather starting when she was 4 years old and raised by her mother, an alcoholic.
Over a number of years, Carolyn massaged Epstein more than 100 times at his Palm Beach estate – and “something sexual happened every single time,” she told jurors.
Maxwell would call her or her boyfriend at the time to schedule the massages, Carolyn added.
At least once, Maxwell groped the teen as she was getting undressed and preparing to give Epstein a massage in the Florida home.
“She came in and felt my boobs and my hips and my buttocks,” Carolyn said, her voice breaking as she recalled the touching.
Maxwell told her that she “had a great body for Mr. Epstein and his friends. She just said that I had good body type,” she added.
At the same time Maxwell and Epstein were luring these girls away from their families to sexually abuse them, the older pair was socialising with the rich and elite.
Witnesses recalled seeing photographs at Epstein’s Florida mansion that showed the financier with leaders ranging from Fidel Castro to Pope John Paul II. Epstein also had entertained former President Bill Clinton and Maxwell’s pal, Britain’s Prince Andrew.
Another accuser who testified under the pseudonym Kate said Maxwell touted her relationships to the rich and powerful as she lured her into Epstein’s orbit.
The disgraced socialite “seemed to know everybody,” Kate told the jury.
“She was friends with Prince Andrew, friends with Donald Trump. Sometimes their names would just come up or she would be talking on the phone about them with me present,” she said.
It was precisely because of these connections why Epstein and Maxwell felt they could get away with their crimes for so long, prosecutors said.
That all changed with Maxwell’s arrest and at her trial — as four of her accusers, now grown women, pointed her out to the jury as the woman who facilitated their sexual abuse.
“The defendant never thought that those teenage girls would have the strength to report what happened to them. In her eyes, they were just trash, beneath her,” Assistant US Attorney Maurene Comey told jurors in her rebuttal statement at the close of the trial.
“Who would believe Jane or Kate or Carolyn or Annie over Ghislaine Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein, who rubbed shoulders with presidents and celebrities and business leaders?” Comey said. “But the defendant didn’t count on those teenage girls growing up into the women who testified at this trial; women who would be willing to take that stand and tell the truth about what happened,” Comey said.
– More to come