‘One of the worst crimes imaginable’: Maxwell found guilty of recruiting underage girls to be sexually abused by Epstein

US

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

The 60-year-old former socialite and ex-girlfriend of billionaire financier Epstein is now facing the prospect of years in prison.

As the verdicts were read out in court in New York, Maxwell appeared to show little reaction behind a black mask.

She stood with her hands folded as the jury filed out, and glanced at her siblings as she herself was led from the courtroom, but was otherwise stoic.

Maxwell was convicted on five of the six counts she was charged with. She was accused of recruiting and grooming four teenagers for Epstein to sexually abuse between 1994 and 2004 at his various properties.

Undated handout photo issued by US Department of Justice of Ghislaine Maxwell with Jeffrey Epstein, which has been shown to the court during the sex trafficking trial of Maxwell in the Southern District of New York. The British socialite is accused of preying on vulnerable young girls and luring them to massage rooms to be molested by Epstein between 1994 and 2004. Issue date: Wednesday December 8, 2021.
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Maxwell and Epstein in a photo shown to the court during her trial

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Maxwell was found guilty of “conspiring to entice” underage girls to be abused by Epstein as well as transporting and sex trafficking the teenagers.

She was cleared of “enticing a girl under 17 (an accuser with the pseudonym Jane) to travel with intent to engage in illegal sexual activity”.

That count alleged the defendant coerced Jane to travel from Florida to Manhattan so Epstein could have sex with her.

Reacting to the guilty verdicts, US attorney Damian Williams said: “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. The road to justice has been far too long. But, today, justice has been done.”

How girls were lured to be abused by Epstein

Two men, one woman, and a journey which ended in a New York courtroom

The trial lasted 13 days, including 10 days for the prosecution case and two days for the defence, and heard from 33 witnesses.

The prosecution claimed Maxwell was a “sexual predator” and motivated by money, presenting a case that hinged around the searing and sometimes emotional testimony of the four accusers who took the stand.

One woman, Annie Farmer, waived her anonymity, another took the stand using only her first name, Carolyn, while two others, Jane and Kate, testified under a pseudonym.

Annie was introduced to Epstein by her sister, who worked in his office in New York.

She claimed she was flown to his sprawling ranch in New Mexico under the impression it was part of a scholarship programme with dozens of other students, but arrived to find she was there alone, apart from Epstein and Maxwell.

She said Maxwell instructed her how to give a foot massage to Epstein and later massaged Ms Farmer’s “chest and upper breasts”.

Annie Farmer. Pic: AP
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Annie Farmer said Maxwell instructed her how to give a foot massage to Epstein and later massaged Ms Farmer’s ‘chest and upper breasts’. Pic: AP

Carolyn, who was from a disadvantaged family in Florida’s West Palm Beach, cried as she told the court she was sexually abused by Epstein and Maxwell from the age of 14.

She said that she would be paid $200 a time to give Epstein massages, which would always end with sexual contact. Carolyn said on one occasion Maxwell had groped her “boobs, hips and buttocks” before telling her she had a “good body for Mr Epstein and his friends”.

Ghislaine Maxwell speaks to her defence team in court on Friday
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A courtroom sketch of Ghislaine Maxwell with her legal team during the trial

Another accuser, Kate, said she had a schoolgirl outfit laid out for her by Maxwell before a sexualised massage with Epstein.

Kate said the defendant then told her to take Epstein his tea in the outfit, and when asked by the accuser why the outfit was on her bed, Maxwell said she “thought it would be fun”.

Maxwell has spent almost a year and a half in prison in New York, and she and her family have repeatedly complained about the conditions at the Metropolitan Detention Centre in Brooklyn.

Her older brother, Kevin Maxwell, addressed journalists outside court midway through the trial, claiming his sister’s legs were left bruised and bleeding from the shackles she was forced to wear around her ankles while being transported to court every morning.

Isabel Maxwell and Kevin Maxwell, sister and brother of Ghislaine Maxwell, depart court during the seventh day of the Ghislaine Maxwell trial in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., December 7, 2021. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
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Two of the defendant’s siblings, Isabel Maxwell and Kevin Maxwell, pictured leaving court during the trial

The defence claimed she was being scapegoated for the crimes of Epstein, who died by apparent suicide in 2019, while charged with operating a vast network of teenage girls to abuse.

After Epstein’s arrest and death, Maxwell disappeared from public life. She was arrested in July 2020 at a property in New Hampshire on the east coast of the United States.

The police officers who completed the search of that home found a mobile phone wrapped in tin foil, which prosecutors claimed was an attempt to evade detection.

Maxwell will be sentenced at a later date.

Maxwell also faces two perjury charges, which defence lawyers successfully argued should be tried separately.

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