Ghislaine Maxwell was found guilty in a human trafficking trial


Ghislaine Maxwell has been found guilty by a New York jury of criminal charges of sex trafficking stemming from her long-standing relationship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

The verdict was handed down Wednesday night after a three-week trial in which 60-year-old Maxwell described by the plaintiffs as a “sophisticated predator” who worked “hand in hand” with Epstein to hunt down vulnerable women.

Her defense portrayed her as an innocent woman unjustly created to be his scapegoat. She was found guilty of five of the six charges against her, including one punishable by up to 40 years in prison.

According to US media reports, Maxwell did not show a visible reaction during the reading of the verdict.

Proponents of the victims saw the trial as the best opportunity to get a report on the Epstein saga and get some justice after the financiers died a suicide in a New York jail cell in August 2019, a month after his arrest. The verdict also offered a ransom for the U.S. Department of Justice after earlier meddling in the Epstein case.

“The road to justice has been too long,” Damian Williams, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement after the verdict was announced. “But today justice is served.”

The result came as a concussion on the sixth day of deliberations, after many legal analysts worried that the jury was stuck and that an increase in Covid infection in New York could result in a misjudgment.

Annie Farmer, one of the victims who testified against Maxwell, was looking forward to the outcome. “I was so relieved to be grateful that the jury recognized the pattern of predatory behavior that Maxwell had been dealing with for years and found her guilty of those crimes. She hurt many more women than a few of us who had the opportunity to testify in court, ”Farmer said in a statement.

Maxwell’s trial included the often harrowing testimonies of Farmer and three other women who claimed Epstein abused them with sexualized massages starting at just 14 years old.

Prosecutors argued that Maxwell sometimes joined the abuse. The British woman was key to the plan, they said, because she helped recruit girls and gain their trust, while providing respectability to the outside world. Epstein paid her more than $ 30 million.

Her lawyers objected to prosecutors changing their memories to win a “jackpot” of damages from the Epstein Victims Fund established after his death. Maxwell, they said, was herself a victim of one of the great fraudsters of the time and was unaware of his activities despite their close relationship.

“Ghislaine Maxwell is not Jeffrey Epstein,” Laura Menninger, her attorney, told jurors in her closing remarks last week. “She is on trial for being with Jeffrey Epstein. It may have been the biggest mistake of her life, but it wasn’t a crime. “

Menninger also accused prosecutors of slandering her client as “Cruella de Vil and The devil wears Prada all wrapped up in one ”.

Epstein, who left college, amassed a fortune with mysterious financial advisory work and came to hang out with two presidents – Donald Trump and Bill Clinton – while courting superstars of business, academia and politics.

The trial provided a rich insight into lavish lives Epstein and Maxwell, which included a squadron of private jets and estates in Palm Beach and Manhattan, a ranch in New Mexico, and a private Caribbean island. At one point, prosecutors brought one of Epstein’s massage tables into the courtroom.

But that shed some light on his contacts with some of the many powerful people who have since been tainted by their ties to Epstein, including Leslie Wexner, a billionaire, founder of The Limited, and Victoria’s Secret; Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft; Leon Black, private equity investor; or Jes Staley, who was forced to resign as CEO of Barclays in November after discovering that he had misrepresented his connections to Epstein.

Maxwell, the daughter of the late Oxford-educated British journalist baron and embezzler Robert Maxwell, came into contact with Epstein in Manhattan in the early 1990s and they soon became a terrific team: her social contacts and charm helped advance his business interests.

But behind the scenes, Florida police began investigating reports that a wealthy man from Palm Beach sexually abused underage girls from local schools. Epstein got a secret agreement 2008 which allowed him to plead lesser to prostitution charges and serve a 13-month prison sentence while working outside his office.

The case was revived by federal prosecutors in Manhattan after an investigative report in the Miami Herald by journalist Julie K Brown. Epstein was arrested at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey in July 2019 after getting off his private jet. Maxwell was arrested a year later at a large home in rural New Hampshire called Tucked Away.

In one of the most emotional moments of the trial, a witness identified as “Carolyn” described growing up in a destroyed house – with an alcoholic mother and absent father – and how an older girl brought her to Epstein’s Palm Beach home when she was 14 years old. with a promise to make some money.

It was the start of hundreds of visits for sexualized massages over the next two years, with Carolyn and her boyfriend using the money to buy drugs. She called the Englishwoman who helped arrange the dates “Maxwell”, she testified, because she could not pronounce her name. Her boyfriend then described her as a “child”.

“My soul is broken,” Carolyn said at one point during her testimony.

Another witness, identified as “Jane”, recounted the time Epstein drove her to the Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach on meet Trump.

Maxwell spent most of the trial shuffling papers on the table in front of her and consulting with her lawyers. She was often supported by her siblings Kevin, Ian and Isabel who sat in the front row of the court.

Maxwell refused to testify in her defense, telling the judge, “Your Highness, the government has not proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt and therefore there is no need for me to testify.” It was the only time she went to court.


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