The jury in Ghislaine Maxwell’s sex-trafficking case has reached a verdict of guilty on five of six counts.
The British socialite has been convicted of helping American financier Jeffrey Epstein sexually abuse teenage girls.
The 60-year-old was accused of recruiting and grooming four teenagers for Epstein between 1994 and 2004.
Her former boyfriend Epstein killed himself in 2019 in a Manhattan jail cell while awaiting trial on sex abuse charges of his own.
Maxwell could be sentenced to up to 70 years in prison for the six counts she faced in this trial. She also faces two perjury counts that will be tried separately.
Along with the trials of movie producer Harvey Weinstein and singer R. Kelly, Maxwell’s case is among the highest-profile trials to take place in the wake of the #MeToo movement, which encouraged women to speak out about sexual abuse by famous and powerful people.
During the trial’s closing arguments in federal court in Manhattan a prosecutor said Maxwell was Epstein’s “partner in crime”.
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“Ghislaine Maxwell made her own choices. She 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.
Maxwell’s attorneys argued she was being used as a scapegoat for Epstein and sought to portray the accounts of her four accusers as not credible, saying their memories had been corrupted over the decades and that they were motivated by money.
“Epstein’s death left a gaping hole in the pursuit of justice for many of these women,” Maxwell’s defence lawyer Bobbi Sternheim said. “She’s filling that hole, and filling that empty chair.”
Maxwell dated Epstein for several years in the 1990s, when the pair attended high society parties and traveled on luxurious private jets.
A few months after Epstein’s death, Maxwell purchased a home for $1 million in cash in Bradford, New Hampshire where she remained out of the limelight until her July 2020 arrest.
Daughter of British press baron Robert Maxwell, Ghislaine Maxwell had been accustomed to opulence all her life.
Her father founded a publishing house and owned tabloids including the Daily Mirror. He was found dead off his yacht near the Canary Islands in 1991.
During the trial, jurors heard emotional and graphic testimony from four women, two of whom said they were 14 when Epstein began abusing them. Three of the women said Maxwell herself had inappropriately touched them.
The jury requested transcripts of the four women’s testimony during their deliberations, suggesting the jurors discussed the women’s accounts before reaching the verdict.
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