NEW YORK — A jury on Wednesday returned a guilty verdict on five of six counts in the trial of British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, who faced charges that she helped recruit young girls to be sexually abused by the late financier and accused child predator Jeffrey Epstein.
Maxwell, 60, had pleaded not guilty to recruiting and grooming four teenagers for Epstein between 1994 and 2004 She was convicted of 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 sex trafficking of minors, the last of which carries a statutory maximum of 40 years in prison.
She was acquitted of count No. 2, enticing a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts.
Maxwell appeared to show no emotion behind her black mask, according to The Associated Press. As the verdict was read in a federal court in Manhattan, Maxwell appeared to show little reaction behind a black mask, standing with her hands folded as the jury filed out of the courtroom, according to the AP.
Of the five counts for which Maxwell was convicted, count No. 6 is the most serious, The New York Times reported. It carries a potential maximum sentence of 40 years in prison.
Here are the other counts and their possible penalties:
- Count No. 1: Conspiracy to entice a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
- Count No. 3: Conspiracy to transport a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
- Count No. 4: Transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
- Count No. 5: Conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of minors, which carries a statutory maximum sentence of five years in prison.
In a statement, U.S. Attorney Damian Williams of the Southern District of New York praised the women who testified against Maxwell.
“A unanimous jury has found Ghislaine Maxwell guilty of one of the worst crimes imaginable -- facilitating and participating in the sexual abuse of children. Crimes that she committed with her long-time partner and co-conspirator, Jeffrey Epstein,” Williams stated. “The road to justice has been far too long. But, today, justice has been done. 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.”
Jurors began deliberating the case on Dec. 20 after hearing closing statements from prosecutors and defense attorneys. They did not meet from Thursday through Sunday for deliberations. In total, jurors deliberated for five full days before reaching their verdict.
The prosecution rested its case on Dec. 10 after 10 days of testimony from 24 witnesses, CNN reported. Those called included four women who said that Maxwell facilitated and sometimes participated in their sexual abuse at the hands of Epstein when they were under 18 years old, according to the news network.
Defense attorneys rested their case Friday after two days of testimony from witnesses including a former girlfriend of Epstein’s who testified that she never witnessed inappropriate conduct between Epstein and teenage girls, the AP reported. Eva Andersson-Dubin, who dated Epstein “off and on” from 1983 to the early 1990s, testified that she remained friendly with Epstein after their breakup and that she trusted her former boyfriend with her young daughters, according to the AP.
Maxwell declined to take the stand in her defense.
“The government has not proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt,” Maxwell said Friday in court, according to the Times. “And so, there is no reason for me to testify.”
Defense attorneys have argued that Maxwell has been used as a scapegoat for Epstein, who committed suicide last year while he was in custody in New York on suspicion of sexually abusing and exploiting dozens of girls between 2002 and 2005. In opening statements late last month, prosecutors said Epstein and Maxwell were “partners in crime” and that Maxwell enabled the abuse to continue to be part of Epstein’s lavish lifestyle, NPR reported.
Authorities arrested Maxwell in July to face allegations that she helped recruit and groom girls as young as 14 to be sexually abused by Epstein in the 1990s.
Prosecutors said that from at least 1994 to 1997, Maxwell encouraged some of Epstein’s victims to take him up on offers to pay for travel or educational opportunities, making the victims feel indebted to them and reinforcing the illusion that the pair was trying to help the victims. Authorities said Maxwell “facilitated Jeffrey Epstein’s access to minor victims knowing that he had a sexual preference for underage girls and that he intended to engage in sexual activity with those victims.”
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