Ghislaine Maxwell Found Guilty on 5 of 6 Counts of Sex Trafficking Charges Connected to Jeffrey Epstein

Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell in 2005. Joe Schildhorn/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

The former British socialite was accused of grooming young girls for sexual abuse.

Ghislaine Maxwell, accused of recruiting and grooming teenagers for sexual assault by disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein, was found guilty of five out of six counts on Wednesday by a federal jury in New York.

Maxwell, 60, had pleaded not guilty to six federal counts including conspiracy, sex trafficking of a minor, enticing a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts and transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity.

The jury deliberated for five full days before reaching their verdict.

"A unanimous jury has found Ghislaine Maxwell guilty of one of the worst crimes imaginable -- facilitating and participating in the sexual abuse of children," U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement following 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."

The former socialite and Epstein's longtime business partner was accused of procuring girls as young as 14 to perform "so-called massages" that evolved into sexual abuse, prosecutors said. By deluging the girls with gifts, money and personal praise, Maxwell and Epstein were able to portray the abuse as something “casual and normal," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Lara Pomerantz when the trial opened Nov. 29.

Epstein, a financier and socialite who hobnobbed with Donald Trump, Bill Clinton and Prince Andrew, killed himself in 2019 while in custody awaiting trial for sex trafficking. In 2008, he was convicted in Florida on charges of procuring a child for prostitution and soliciting a prostitute.

Jurors began deliberating on Dec. 20, following a three-week trial in which jurors heard testimony from four women who said Maxwell recruited and groomed them to be sexually abused by Epstein. Maxwell sometimes participated in those alleged assaults, according to their testimony. The acts began when they were younger than 18, they testified, and occurred from 1994 to 2004.

She was arrested in 2020 and has since been kept under suicide watch while in custody. She turned 60 on Christmas Day.

Federal prosecutors called 24 witnesses over 10 days during the trial. Their case focused primarily on the four women's personal accounts concerning Maxwell's alleged role in furthering their abuse at the hands of Epstein.

One woman testified that when she was 14, Maxwell touched her breasts, hips and buttocks. Maxwell told her she "had a great body for Epstein and his friends," the witness said.

Another woman took the stand and said Maxwell taught her how to give sexual massages to Epstein and encouraged her to invite other young girls to participate in sexually pleasing Epstein.

"A single, middle-aged man who invites a teenage girl to visit his ranch, to come to his house, to fly to New York, is creepy," prosecutor Alison Moe said during closing statements. "But when that man is accompanied by a posh, smiling, respectable, age-appropriate woman, that's when everything starts to seem legitimate.

"And when that woman encourages those girls to massage that man, when she acts like it's totally normal for the man to touch those girls, it lures them into a trap. It allows the man to silence the alarm bells," Moe said.

Defense attorney Laura Menninger distanced her client from Epstein, saying Maxwell had been manipulated by him as well.

"She's being tried here for being with Jeffrey Epstein, and maybe that was the biggest mistake of her life," Menninger said. "But it was not a crime."

The defense also claimed the women who testified were being guided by decades-old memories and attorneys who led them to get money from a fund established by Epstein's estate after his suicide.

After the verdict was announced, Maxwell pulled down her mask and poured herself a glass of water, Reuters reported. She could face up to decades in prison when sentenced.

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