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A jury has found disgraced British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell guilty on five of six federal counts related to sex trafficking and sexual abuse.
Maxwell, 60, was convicted on Wednesday afternoon in New York City federal court of charges related to transporting minors to engage in criminal sexual activity and sex trafficking of children or by force, fraud or coercion. The decision came after five days of deliberations.
The jury found Maxwell not guilty on the charge of enticement of an individual under the age of 17 to travel with the intent to engage in illegal sexual activity; that charge that applied only to her accuser "Jane." Maxwell was convicted of: two charges of conspiracy to entice individuals under age 17 to travel with intent to engage in illegal sexual activity; one charge of transportation of an individual under the age of 17 with intent to engage in illegal sexual activity, related to Jane; conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of individuals under 18; and sex trafficking of an individual under the age of 18, related to her accuser "Carolyn."
The socialite was arrested last year in New Hampshire, where she went into hiding for months after being accused recruiting and grooming teen girls as part of Jeffrey Epstein’s pyramid of sexual abuse. Epstein, who was found hanged in his jail cell in August 2019 at age 66 — one month after he was arrested on federal sex trafficking charges — referred to Maxwell as his "best friend" in a 2003 Vanity Fair profile. But prosecutors made it clear that she was more than that.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Alison Moe told the jury during closing remarks that Epstein could not have preyed on teenage girls for more than a decade without the vital assistance of Maxwell.
"Ghislaine Maxwell was dangerous," Moe said before calling her a "sophisticated predator who knew exactly what she was doing.”
Three women testified that Maxwell preyed upon them when they were teens. The one referred to as Carolyn claimed that Maxwell groomed her and inspected her 14-year-old body before instructing her to have sex with Epstein, which Carolyn said she did for money over 100 times. Her pay increased when she recruited another victim. The woman referred to as Jane said Maxwell and Epstein recruited her at the Interlochen summer arts camp in 1994 when she was 14 years old, abused her and involved her in group sex with adult women.
Meanwhile, Maxwell's defense tried aggressively to discredit the accusers. During the trial, Maxwell’s defense also unsuccessfully tried to have three of their witnesses testify using pseudonyms or under some other form of anonymity — protections similar to those granted to sexual abuse accusers, three of whom testified for the prosecution — but that motion was denied by the judge.
The trial also drew attention for its dueling drawings: a bizarre image of Maxwell sketching her own sketch of courtroom artist Jane Rosenberg went viral, prompting some to ponder if the socialite was trolling her.
While he denied the accusations he faced a month before his death, Epstein had previously admitted to soliciting a prostitute and of procuring an underage girl for prostitution in 2008 in Florida. In the 2008 case, he took a plea deal for a reduced sentence despite the fact that more than 30 girls claimed he sexually abused them, the Miami Herald reported in 2019. His death fueled numerous conspiracy theories, mainly due to his alleged connections to high profile people who allegedly spent time at his homes.
Maxwell still awaits trial on two counts of perjury. Her conviction is likely to result in a significant prison sentence.
For more on the case, watch Peacock’s “Epstein’s Shadow: Ghislaine Maxwell.”
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