British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell convicted of sex trafficking

British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell was found guilty in New York on Wednesday of recruiting and grooming young girls to be sexually abused by the late American financier Jeffrey Epstein.

Maxwell faces spending the rest of her life behind bars after the 12-person jury convicted her on five of the six counts she was facing, including the most serious charge of sex trafficking a minor.

The conviction, just days after she turned 60 on Christmas, caps a remarkable fall from grace for the Oxford-educated daughter of the late British press baron Robert Maxwell, who grew up in wealth and privilege as a friend to royalty.

She sat passively in the Manhattan courtroom, slowly removing her mask to take sips of water, after Judge Alison Nathan read out the verdicts, reached after five full days of deliberation by the jury.

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Afterwards, Maxwell’s attorney, Bobbi Sternheim, said her legal team was already working on an appeal and they were “confident that she will be vindicated.”

“We firmly believe in Ghislaine’s innocence. Obviously we are very disappointed with the verdict,” Sternheim told reporters outside the courthouse.

Sex trafficking of minors carries a maximum 40-year sentence. The lesser charges have terms of five or 10 years. Maxwell was found not guilty of one count — enticement of a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts.

Nathan offered her “sincere thanks” to the jury for their service, adding that they served with “diligence.”

Maxwell walked out of the courtroom into detention as she has done every day of the month-long trial. She was not handcuffed and will return to the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn.

No date was set for her sentencing.

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US Attorney Damian Williams welcomed the verdict, saying Maxwell had been found guilty 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,” Williams said in a statement.

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.

One, identified only as “Jane,” detailed how Maxwell recruited her at summer camp and made her feel “special.”

She said sexual encounters with Epstein became routine, with Maxwell sometimes present.

Another, going by “Carolyn,” said she was usually paid $300 after sexual encounters with Epstein, often by Maxwell herself.

A third alleged victim was Annie Farmer, now 42, who said Maxwell fondled her breasts when she was a teenager at the New Mexico ranch owned by Epstein.

 

Updated: December 30, 2021 — 9:45 am