After deliberating for five days in December, a federal jury found British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell guilty of facilitating American financier Jeffrey Epstein’s abuse of underage girls. The verdict came after a month-long trial featuring the testimony of four of his victims, who detailed the abuse they experienced as teenagers between 1994 and 2004 at Epstein’s various homes in New York, Florida, New Mexico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Maxwell’s charges included sex trafficking of minors, conspiracy to entice a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, conspiracy to transport a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of minors and enticing a minor to travel with intent to engage in illegal sexual activity. She was acquitted of this last charge.
The charges stem from her association and relationship with Jeffrey Epstein, who died in a Manhattan correctional facility while awaiting trial. The prosecution argued that Maxwell helped recruit underage girls for Epstein. Maxwell faces up to 65 years in prison if the verdict remains intact.
“The road to justice has been far too long. But, today, justice has been done,” said Damian Williams, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, after the verdict. “I want to commend the bravery of the girls – now grown women – who stepped out of the shadows and into the courtroom. Their courage and willingness to face their abuser made this case, and today’s result, possible.”
During the trial Maxwell declined to testify in her defense. When Presiding U.S. District Judge Alison J. Nathan asked why, Maxwell said, “The government has not proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt so there is no reason for me to testify.”
Maxwell Is Appealing Her Conviction
Maxwell’s sentencing appearance is scheduled for June 28. Judge Nathan has indicated that this date may be delayed depending on the outcome of Maxwell’s request to overturn the conviction and be granted a new trial.
It has been widely reported that Maxwell is appealing her conviction. Attorneys for Maxwell requested that her conviction be set aside after media reports surfaced that a juror was sexually abused as a child and had discussed his experiences with other jurors. Judge Nathan has not ruled on this matter. It is expected that an appellate court will decide.
Legal experts say that Maxwell’s legal team has a high legal bar to clear as they attempt to overturn the guilty verdict. Her attorneys will need to show not only that Judge Nathan violated federal rules of evidence or abused her legal discretion but that her mistake mattered to the outcome of the case.
Judge Nathan permitted three of Maxwell’s accusers to testify under pseudonyms or use only their first name to protect their privacy as victims of sexual abuse. Maxwell’s legal team asked that three defense witnesses be permitted to testify anonymously but did not ask for anonymity until near the end of the trial. The judge ruled that the same privacy concerns did not extend to the defense’s witnesses, as none intended to testify about personal sexual conduct or sensitive personal topics.
While her appeal begins to take shape, Maxwell now faces two perjury charges. These charges were severed from the initial trial and stem from her deposition in the 2016 lawsuit filed by Virginia Guiffre against Epstein. Although that case was settled, Maxwell is accused of lying under oath. Each perjury charge carries a maximum sentence of five years. Virginia Guifre is currently suing Britain’s Prince Andrew, saying that she was brought to the U.K. to have sex with the prince when she was 17.