Ghislaine Maxwell found guilty

British socialite, Ghislaine Maxwell, has been found guilty of luring teenage girls to be sexually abused by the American millionaire Jeffrey Epstein. Maxwell could face up to 60 years in prison at her sentencing, the date of which has not yet been set. The most serious charge, sex trafficking of a minor, alone carries up to a 40-year sentence. Federal prosecutors lauded the decision. “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,” Damian Williams, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said. “I want to commend the bravery of the girls – now grown women – who stepped out of the shadows and into the courtroom,” Williams added. “Their courage and willingness to face their abuser made this case, and today’s result, possible … This Office will always stand with victims, will always follow the facts wherever they lead, and will always fight to ensure that no one, no matter how powerful and well connected, is above the law.” The verdict capped a monthlong trial featuring sordid accounts of the sexual exploitation of girls as young as 14, told by four women who described being abused as teens in the 1990s and early 2000s at Epstein’s palatial homes in Florida, New York and New Mexico. Maxwell was remanded to Metropolitan Detention Center, where she has been in custody since the days after her initial arrest. 

What Happened During Maxwell’s Court Hearing?

Ghislaine Maxwell, who turned 60 on Christmas, denied the charges through her lawyers. Maxwell declined to take the risk of testifying, telling the judge: “The government has not proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt so there is no reason for me to testify.” Jurors deliberated for five full days before finding Ghislaine Maxwell guilty of five out of six charges. Maximum prison terms for each charge ranging from five to 40 years in prison. Maxwell faces the likelihood of decades behind bars, an outcome long sought by women who spent years fighting in civil courts to hold her accountable for her role in recruiting, grooming, and sometimes even joining  the abuse of Epstein’s teenage victims. As the verdict was read in court, Maxwell was stone faced behind a black mask. She did not hug her lawyers on the way out, a marked change from previous days during which Maxwell and her team were often physically affectionate with one another.

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During the proceedings, a housekeeper testified he was expected to be “blind, deaf and dumb” about the private lives of Epstein, a financier who cultivated friendships with influential politicians and business tycoons, and Maxwell, who had led a jet-setting lifestyle as the favorite child of a media mogul. Pilots took the witness stand and dropped names, such as Britain’s Prince Andrew, Bill Clinton, and Donald Trump, of passengers on Epstein’s private jets. Jurors saw physical evidence like a folding massage table once used by Epstein and a “black book” that listed contact information for some of the victims under the heading “massages.” There were bank records showing Epstien had transferred $30.7 million to Maxwell. However, the core evidence presented was the testimony of four women who said they were victimized by Maxwell and Epstein when they were minors. Jane, a television actress; Kate, a former model from Great Britain; and Carolyn, now a mom recovering from drug addiction. The fourth was Annie Farmer, who chose to use her real name after being vocal about her allegations in recent years.

What did Maxwell and Epstein’s Victims Say?

Every victim gave roughly the same story, saying Ghislaine Maxwell used charm and gifts to gain their trust, then promising Epstein could use his wealth and connections to fulfill their dreams. The situation would change when Maxwell coaxed them into giving massages to Epstein that turned sexual. Maxwell played these encouters off as normal: After one sexual massage, Kate, then 17, said Maxwell asked her if she’d had fun and told her “You are such a good girl.” Carolyn testified that in the early 2000s she was one of several underprivileged teens who took up an offer to give massages in exchange for $100 bills, which prosecutors described as “a pyramid of abuse.” Maxwell made all the arrangements even though she knew the girl was only 14 at the time. Jane said in 1994, at 14, she was instructed to follow Epstein into a pool house on the Palm Beach estate, where he masturbated on her. “I was frozen in fear,” she told the jury, adding that the assault was the first time she had ever seen a penis. She also directly accused Maxwell of participating in her abuse. Maxwell’s lawyer asked Jane why it had taken so long to come forward. “I was scared,” she said, choking back tears. “I was embarrassed, ashamed. I didn’t want anybody to know any of this about me.” 

Annie Farmer described how Maxwell touched her breasts while giving her a massage at Epstein’s New Mexico ranch. She then described Epstein unexpectedly crawling into bed and pressing himself against her sexually. After the verdict was handed down, Farmer said she was grateful the jury recognized Maxwell’s predatory behavior. “She has caused hurt to many more women than the few of us who had the chance to testify in the courtroom,” she said in a prepared statement. “I hope that this verdict brings solace to all who need it and demonstrates that no one is above the law. Even those with great power and privilege will be held accountable when they sexually abuse and exploit the young.” 

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Why is an Epstien Victim Suing Prince Andrew?

 Although Jeffrey Epstein’s victim Virginia Roberts Giuffre was not called as a witness in Maxwell’s trial, her lawyer David Boies said  “This is a great result. It is a great day for Virginia and for all of Epstein and Maxwell’s survivors. It is also a great day for justice and the justice system. The jury’s verdict vindicates the courage and commitment of all the survivors of Epstein and Maxwell, who against great odds for many years, stood up to bring them to justice. This is their verdict, this is their victory.” Ghislaine Maxwell’s Guilty Verdict could mean trouble for her good friend Prince Andrew in the lawsuit being brought against him by Giuffre. A source close to her said Giuffre has been preoccupied with the Ghislaine Maxwell trial, but she is in fact suing Prince Andrew, “Like most of the survivors she is very focused on the Maxwell trial. She is a very courageous and determined young woman [who has been] the subject of numerous attacks by wealthy and politically influential people. She has stood up remarkably well.” In her lawsuit, Giuffre is alleging she was sex trafficked to Prince Andrew by Epstein. Andrew strongly denies the allegation, saying he has “no recollection” of ever meeting Giuffre, despite the widely circulated photograph of him with his arm around her waist when she was a teenager.

Will Maxwell’s Case Affect Prince Andrew’s Lawsuit?

Prince Andrew denies all allegations despite their being photographic evidence and even witnesses to one of the sexual encounters. Those are just the public pieces of evidence, there are likely more to surface in court proceedings. One of those proceedings is scheduled to happen next week. A source close to Prince Andrew has insisted that Ghislaine Maxwell’s guilty verdict “shouldn’t affect the prospects of Andrew’s case at all.” Since Maxwell’s guilty verdict, Prince Andrew’s lawyers are determined to paint Giuffre as an enabler of Epstien’s circle of abusers, rather than a victim doing what she must do in order to survive in Epstien’s world. Her relationship with Epstien began as a minor, how can you see it any other way? 

A source for Virginia Roberts Giuffre said “this verdict obviously makes his case a lot more difficult. His argument is essentially the same as Maxwell’s: that these young women made it all up for money, and they were all just friends and there wasn’t any sex trafficking and the girls who are making these claims are liars and gold diggers. It’s all the same, blame-the-victim defense. This verdict demonstrates that you can’t obscure the overwhelming amount of evidence by these smokescreens, and that jurors are not prepared to blame the victim. This can’t be good for Andrew,” the Giuffre source continued. “But it’s hard to know what he takes on board and what he doesn’t. No sane person would have gone on television the way he did and just denied that photographic evidence, and shown a total lack of remorse.” 

Maxwell called the claims against her “absolute rubbish.” Maxwell’s lawyers and family said she was merely Epstein’s pawn, now paying “a blood price” to satisfy public desire to see someone held accountable for his crimes. Claims such as this could be understandable if Ghislaine Maxwell met epstein as a child and was manipulated into doing this after years of abuse, such as Giuffre. This is not the case for Maxwell, who met Epstein in her twenties, after her father had passed away. She completely understood what she was doing, and that what she was doing was wrong. She was not only doing what she had to in order to survive, she played major parts in the abuse. This is a week of celebration for the victims of Ghislaine Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstien. Do you believe Prince Andrew should face the overwhelming evidence against him or continue to fight the allegations? Should the women who met Epstein as children be punished for doing what they had to do to survive in the messed up world he created for himself? 

Written by: Erinn Malloy

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