Now that Ghislaine Maxwell has been found guilty of trafficking young girls for Jeffrey Epstein, what will become of his other high profile associates, including Prince Andrew?
Ghislaine Maxwell, the sometime-girlfriend and long-time associate of Jeffrey Epstein has been found guilty of recruiting and trafficking young girls to be sexually abused by the convicted sex offender.
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 followed a month-long trial that featured testimony from four women who described being abused by Epstein between 1994 and 2004.
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.
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.
However, many have been pondering what the guilty verdict might mean for Epstein’s other known associates, including Prince Andrew, who has previously been accused of sexual assault by Virginia Giuffre, after she was coerced into Epstein’s sex-trafficking operation
Following the verdict, the lawyer representing Giuffre and Annie Farmer, a victim of Maxwell’s, told the Telegraph: “This verdict told the American public that regardless of power, or privilege, whether you’re a president or a prince, you will be held accountable.”
Giuffre, now 38, also repeated claims she was lured into sex work for paedophile Jeffrey Epstein by Maxwell – during which time she says she was sexually abused by Prince Andrew.
“I have been dreaming of this day for the last 10 years,” she told The Cut on Wednesday. “It’s a bittersweet emotion because I have been fighting for so long.”
Annie Farmer, one of the women who testified against Maxwell, also 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.”
What does the verdict mean for Prince Andrew and Epstein’s other associates?
Prince Andrew’s legal team maintain that he “never sexually abused or assaulted” Giuffre, and are currently preparing to go to the same federal court in Manhattan, New York, to defend him against a damages claim brought by Giuffre.
However, the Duke of York is not facing a criminal prosecution in the United States, and is instead being sued by Giuffre after the Metropolitan Police said it would not take any further action against him.
During Maxwell’s trial, the court heard no evidence that Prince Andrew was ever allegedly involved in wrongdoing.
Larry Visoski, Epstein’s long-time pilot, told the trial that he had flown Prince Andrew and other celebrities, including former US President Bill Clinton, to luxury destinations. The Duke of York had previously told Newsnight he had been on that plane at least once, in 1999.
One of Maxwell’s accusers, “Jane”, recalled being on the jet with the Duke, but she did not accuse him of wrongdoing.
The jury also acquitted Maxwell of enticing Jane to travel from Florida to Manhattan so that Epstein could have sex with her.
Experts have suggested that Maxwell’s trial is unlikely to be the final criminal case in the Epstein saga. But instead, it may only be the beginning of a reckoning against abuse lasting at least a decade, and where an estimated hundreds of women and girls may have been victimised.
It is possible that the US government will pursue charges against other Epstein employees as well as men who took part in the abuse of young women, or that Maxwell may agree to assist prosecutors in other investigations in return for a reduced sentence.
It’s not yet known who is co-operating with the FBI, who has reported further allegations of abuse, and what other evidence the authorities have uncovered in pursuit of Epstein and Maxwell.
All we can hope is that some justice, finally, will be served.
If you have experienced sexual harassment or assault, it’s not your fault and you are not alone. You can find practical advice about tackling harassment in the workplace by visiting the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website, or calling the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s Equality Advisory and Support Service on 0808 800 0082.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, Victim Support and Rape Crisis provide support and resources. You can also call the RASAC (Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre) national helpline on 0800 0288 022.
Images: Getty/Virginia Roberts Giuffre