Ghislaine Maxwell trial: Maxwell found guilty of sex trafficking young girls for Jeffrey Epstein

Ghislaine Maxwell trial: Maxwell has been found guilty of sex trafficking young girls for Jeffrey Epstein

Ghislaine Maxwell, the sometime girlfriend of Jeffrey Epstein, has been found guilty of five charges of sex trafficking following a trial.

Updated 30 December 2021:

Content note: this article contains references to and descriptions of sexual abuse that readers may find upsetting.

Ghislaine Maxwell has been found guilty of recruiting and trafficking young girls to be sexually abused by Jeffrey Epstein.

The 60-year-old was found guilty on five of the six counts she faced, including the most serious charge, that of sex trafficking a minor.

The verdict follows a month-long trial that featured testimony from four women who described being abused by Epstein between 1994 and 2004. A guilty verdict was reached by the jury after five full days of deliberation.

Maxwell was found guilty of charges including sex trafficking of a minor, transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity and conspiracy to entice minors to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, but was found not guilty on one count of enticement of a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts.

The length of her sentence has not yet been set, but she could face up to 65 years – certainly the rest of her life – in prison.

Annie Farmer, one of the women who testified against Maxwell, said: “I am so relieved and grateful that the jury recognised [her] pattern of predatory behaviour.

“I hope that this verdict brings solace to all who need it and demonstrates that no one is above the law,” she said.

Shortly after hearing the verdict, Maxwell’s legal team said they were already working on an appeal. “We firmly believe in Ghislaine’s innocence,” her lawyer, Bobbi Sternheim, told reporters.

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Prosecutors in the trial had alleged that Maxwell procured girls between 1994 and 2004 for the financier Jeffrey Epstein, who would sexually abuse them. In the high-profile case, Maxwell had pleaded not guilty. 

In a US court filing ahead of the trial, lawyers for Maxwell wrote that she “has always vehemently denied that she was involved in illegal or improper conduct related to Epstein”.

However, during the trial, Annie Farmer testified that Maxwell touched her breasts while giving her a massage during a visit to Epstein’s New Mexico ranch in 1996, when Farmer was 16.

On 6 December, “Kate”, testifying under a pseudonym, also alleged that Maxwell asked her to find young women for Epstein, as well as engaging in sexual contact with him during massages. She claimed that Maxwell had told her: “You know what he likes: cute, young, pretty, like you,” and said that “he needed to have sex about three times a day”.

Kate, who says she first met Maxwell when she was 17 in 1994, also recounted an event when she was around 18, when she found a “schoolgirl outfit” on her bed. She claims that when she asked Maxwell about it, she said: “I thought it would be fun for you to take Jeffrey his tea in this outfit.”

The third accuser, Carolyn (also testifying under a pseudonym), alleged that Maxwell coordinated sexualised massages with Epstein, starting when she was 14. At one point, she said, Maxwell assessed her naked body and touched her breast, saying that she “had a great body for Mr Epstein and his friends”.

Carolyn said that she’d been introduced by Virginia Giuffre – a longtime Epstein and Maxwell accuser – at Epstein’s Palm Beach mansion in the early 2000s. “Virginia asked me if I wanted to come make money,” Carolyn said in court, later testifying that Giuffre was 18 at the time.

Reports say Carolyn broke into tears when she said the money Epstein gave her was for “buying drugs”. When she was about 15 or 16, she said, she brought some friends to Epstein’s house. She stopped seeing him at 18, she said, when she was “too old”.

As reported on 1 December: On 30 November, the second day of the trial, Maxwell’s first accuser, who identified only as “Jane”, took the stand and testified that Maxwell was in the room when Epstein sexually assaulted her when she was 14 years old.

The graphic testimony described how she met the couple at a summer camp and was invited into Epstein’s world, only to be subjected to sexual abuse over a period of years.

Jurors were told that the abuse would happen once every two weeks when she was aged between 14 and 16 and she travelled with them 10 times to New York and Santa Fe.

Asked if there was ever anyone else in the room when there was sexual contact with Epstein, Jane replied: “Ghislaine Maxwell.”

Jane said the sexual interactions were “very casual” and “like it was no big deal”. She said Maxwell instructed her on how to give Epstein sexual massages and sometimes physically participated in the encounters as well.

The accuser also told the court she received a $2m (£1.5m) payment from a victim fund set up by Epstein’s estate.

Epstein’s former pilot Lawrence Visoski also gave evidence on the same day before Jane took to the stand, telling the court that Maxwell was Epstein’s “Number 2” in his hierarchy of operations.

Visoski also said that Prince Andrew – who was friends with Epstein but has consistently denied any wrongdoing in relation to – travelled on Epstein’s jet.

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However, he told the court he never saw sexual activity or signs of it, such as sex toys or condoms, adding he also never saw anyone who he believed was underage, saying “they looked like mature women”.

Visoski also claimed to remember meeting another alleged victim, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, in the “mid to late 90s,” and who has since accused Prince Andrew of sexual abuse, which he has consistently denied. “She was on the airplane a couple times,” he said in court. “I couldn’t guess the quantity.”

Maxwell is claimed to be a key figure within the ongoing sex trafficking investigations surrounding Jeffrey Epstein. Back in 2019, Epstein was charged by federal prosecutors with one count of sex trafficking of a minor and one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking.

Epstein was known to associate with high-profile politicians including Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, numerous celebrities, and other people in the public eye.

Epstein, a convicted sex offender, killed himself at age 66 in a Manhattan jail in August 2019 while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.

Ghislaine Maxwell's trial is currently underway in New York
Ghislaine Maxwell's trial is currently underway in New York

Maxwell herself has been accused of helping Epstein “recruit, groom and ultimately abuse” multiple girls, including one as young as 14, between 1994 and 1997, according to an indictment.

It is also alleged that Maxwell participated in some of the abuse and lied about her conduct when questioned under oath in 2016 in a lawsuit.

This story will be updated as the trial continues.

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