Ghislaine Maxwell trial: Jury finds she sex trafficked a minor for Jeffrey Epstein, guilty on five of six counts | CNN
Category: News & PoliticsVia: george • one month ago • 1 comments
By: Lauren del Valle,Steve Almasy,Ray Sanchez (CNN)
A jury in a New York federal court has found Ghislaine Maxwell guilty on five of six counts related to her role in Jeffrey Epstein's sexual abuse of minor girls between 1994 and 2004.
Maxwell, 60, was found guilty of five federal charges: sex trafficking of a minor, transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity and three related counts of conspiracy.
She was acquitted on the charge of enticing a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts.
Maxwell, who now faces up to 65 years in prison, showed no reaction when the verdicts were read. Judge Alison Nathan did not set a sentencing date.
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"The road to justice has been far too long. But, today, justice has been done," US Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement. "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."
The jury, which was made up of six women and six men, deliberated for about 40 hours across parts of six days.
Prosecutors argued Maxwell and Epstein conspired to set up a scheme to lure young girls into sexual relationships with Epstein from 1994 to 2004 in New York, Florida, New Mexico and the US Virgin Islands. Four women testified during the trial that Epstein abused them and that Maxwell facilitated the abuse and sometimes participated in it as well.
Her defense, meanwhile, said she was a "scapegoat" for Epstein's actions and attacked the memories and motivations of the women who say they were sexually abused.
Maxwell's lawyers are working on an appeal, attorney Bobbi C. Sternheim said.
"We firmly believe in Ghislaine's innocence. Obviously, we are very disappointed with the verdict," Sternheim said, adding her team believes Maxwell still will be vindicated.
The trial, which began November 29, alternated between disturbing testimony from sexual abuse victims and illuminating testimony about some of Epstein's connections to some high-profile celebrities.
Annie Farmer, one of four accusers who testified, said Wednesday she hopes the verdicts bring solace to the victims.
"I am so relieved and grateful that the jury recognized the pattern of predatory behavior that Maxwell engaged in for years and found her guilty of these crimes," she said. "She has caused hurt to many more women than the few of us who had the chance to testify in the courtroom."
Epstein, who pleaded guilty in 2008 to state prostitution charges, was indicted on federal sex trafficking charges in July 2019 but died by suicide in prison a month later. Maxwell, his confidante and former girlfriend, was arrested a year afterward and has been held in jail since.
It remains to be seen whether others will be prosecuted. CNN legal analyst Elie Honig, a former prosecutor in the district where Maxwell was tried, said this was not a two-person operation.
He pointed to civil lawsuits that link others to the abuse.
"I think prosecutors have a real obligation to dig all the way down to the bottom, and bring anyone else who may have been part of this to justice," he said.
A sketch of Ghislaine Maxwell during the court session Wednesday where she was found guilty on five of six federal charges. Christine Cornell
Maxwell also faces two pending perjury charges related to a 2016 civil deposition.
What happened at the trial
The prosecution's case rested primarily on four women with personal stories of Maxwell's role facilitating Epstein's abuse.
Jane, testifying under a pseudonym, said Maxwell organized sexual massages with Epstein and sometimes joined in the abuse. The charges of enticing - on which Maxwell was acquitted - and transporting relate to testimony solely from her.
Carolyn testified that when she was 14, Maxwell touched her breasts, hips and buttocks and told her she "had a great body for Epstein and his friends." The child sex trafficking count - the most serious of all the charges - relates to her testimony.
"Kate" testified Maxwell invited her over and directed her how to give Epstein a sexual massage. She said Maxwell spoke often of sexual topics with her and asked Kate to invite other young girls for Epstein's sexual desires.
The jury was instructed it could not convict Maxwell on any of the counts based solely on testimony from Kate as she was over the age of consent at the time of the events.
Jurors could consider Kate's allegations in addition to testimony from Jane, Carolyn and Farmer.
Farmer, the only accuser to testify by her full name, said that she was 16 when Maxwell massaged her naked chest at Epstein's New Mexico ranch in 1996.
Prosecutors sought to closely link Maxwell and Epstein and said her actions normalizing sexual massages were crucial to his international abuse scheme at his properties in New York, Florida, New Mexico and the US Virgin Islands.
CNN's Lauren del Valle and Ray Sanchez reported and wrote from New York, and Steve Almasy wrote from Atlanta. CNN's Sonia Moghe, Eric Levenson, Laura Studley and Patrick Cornell contributed to this report.