British socialist Ghislaine Maxwell convicted of sex crimes

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British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell was convicted of sex crimes on Wednesday. (To file)

New York:

British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell was convicted Wednesday of recruiting and preparing young girls to be sexually assaulted by the late American financier Jeffrey Epstein.

Maxwell, who turned 60 on Christmas Day, was found guilty by a 12-person jury on five of the six counts she faced, including the most serious charge of sex trafficking of a minor .

She sat passively in the Manhattan courtroom, slowly removing her mask for sips of water, as Judge Alison Nathan read the verdicts, rendered after five full days of jury deliberation.

Subsequently, Maxwell’s attorney said his legal team was already working on an appeal.

“We firmly believe in the innocence of Ghislaine. We are obviously very disappointed with the verdict,” his lawyer Bobbi Sternheim told reporters in front of the courthouse.

“We have already started working on the appeal and are confident that it will be justified,” she said.

The Oxford-educated daughter of the late British press baron Robert Maxwell, who grew up in wealth and privilege as a friend of royalty, could potentially spend the rest of her life behind bars.

Sex trafficking of minors carries a maximum penalty of 40 years. The lowest charges last for five or ten years. Maxwell was found not guilty on one count – inducing a minor to travel to engage in unlawful sexual acts.

Nathan addressed his “sincere thanks” to the jury for their service, adding that they had served “diligently”.

After the verdict was read, Nathan adjourned the proceedings and Maxwell walked out of the courtroom into custody as she did on each day of the month-long trial.

No date has been set for his conviction.

US Attorney Damian Williams praised the verdict.

“A unanimous jury has found Ghislaine Maxwell guilty of one of the worst crimes imaginable – facilitating and participating in the sexual abuse of children,” Williams said in a statement.

“The road to justice has been far too long. But today justice has been served.”

The charges against Maxwell date back to 1994 to 2004.

Two of Epstein’s alleged victims said they were only 14 when Maxwell allegedly started grooming them and arranging for them to give Epstein massages which resulted in sexual activity.

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

She said sexual encounters with Epstein had become routine, with Maxwell present at times.

Another, called “Carolyn,” said she was typically paid $ 300 after having sex with Epstein, often by Maxwell herself.

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

“Sophisticated predator”

Epstein, 66, committed suicide in prison in 2019 while awaiting his own sex crimes trial. Maxwell, her lover who became a close friend, was arrested the following year.

Maxwell had pleaded not guilty to all counts. The prosecution described her as a “sophisticated predator who knew exactly what she was doing.”

Prosecutor Alison Moe said Maxwell was “the key” to Epstein’s plan to get young girls to give him massages, during which he sexually abused them.

Moe cited bank documents showing that Maxwell received $ 30 million from Epstein between 1999 and 2007 as evidence that his involvement was motivated by money.

“They were partners in the crime,” she said.

Maxwell’s defense team countered that there was a “lack of evidence” to convict and questioned the ability of the accusers to remember events a quarter of a century old.

The team also argued that Maxwell was being used as a “scapegoat” for Epstein’s crimes after he escaped justice.

Maxwell refused to testify during the trial.

Maxwell’s siblings Kevin, Isabel and Christine were in the front row in the Manhattan courtroom as the verdicts were read.

Pursued by reporters as they left, the family declined to comment, with Kevin Maxwell saying they would release a statement on the verdict later.

Virginia Giuffre, who is not an accuser in the case but alleges Epstein loaned her out for sex with her wealthy and powerful associates, including British Prince Andrew – after Maxwell introduced the royal to the financier – welcomed the verdict in a statement on Twitter.

“My soul has longed for justice for years and today the jury gave me exactly that. That day will always be remembered,” she said.

“I hope today is not the end but rather another step in justice. Maxwell did not act alone. Others must be held accountable. I trust they will be held accountable.” she declared.

Prince Andrew has denied the accusation.

(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and is posted from a syndicated feed.)


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