After several days of deliberation, the former British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell was found guilty on Wednesday, December 29, by a New York court of a series of sex crimes, in particular the most serious: trafficking in young people. underage girls for the benefit of the former American financier Jeffrey Epstein.
Mme Maxwell, 60, who faces decades in prison, has been appearing since the end of November in federal court in Manhattan, in particular for having provided minors to his former companion for him to sexually abuse from 1994 to 2004. Epstein is died in prison in 2019.
Prosecuted on six counts of sex crimes, she was found guilty of five of them. “Very disappointed with the verdict”, his lawyer Bobbi Sternheim announced to the press his intention to appeal.
After forty hours of deliberations spread over five days, “A unanimous jury has found Ghislaine Maxwell guilty of one of the worst crimes imaginable – facilitate and take part in the sexual assault of children ”, thundered Manhattan Federal District Attorney Damian Williams. He denounced “Crimes perpetrated with his partner and lifelong accomplice, Jeffrey Epstein”, who committed suicide in a New York prison in August 2019, even before being tried for sex crimes.
No date has yet been set for Ghislaine Maxwell’s sentencing.
“The courage of young girls”
Regretting that the “Justice has taken too long”, the prosecutor greeted the “Courage of young girls who have become women”, four victims who testified against Mr.me Maxwell.
« Jane », « Kate », « Carolyn » and Annie Farmer, 42, the only one to speak without a pseudonym, exposed part of their lives damaged by forced sex with Epstein – including sex massages – when they were between 14 and 17, often in presence of Maxwell.
At the verdict, Ghislaine Maxwell – favorite daughter of the British press magnate Robert Maxwell (died 1991) and who evolved in very privileged circles in Europe and the United States – was surrounded by her brother Kevin and his sisters Isabel and Christine. She walked out of the courtroom with her head bowed, surrounded by security guards. Her lawyers simply asked Judge Alison Nathan to make sure the 60-year-old received a third dose of the Covid-19 vaccine in her Brooklyn prison.
Ghislaine Maxwell, who turned 60 on Christmas Day and who is British, French and American at the same time, has been incarcerated since her arrest in the summer of 2020 in the northeastern United States, a year after the suicide of ‘Epstein.
After three weeks of debate, the jury – six women and six men – had all the trouble in the world to agree unanimously on a verdict. So much so that speculations have been rife on a possible acquittal, or even a new trial. Judge Nathan even had to put pressure on the jury by worrying about the “Astronomical peak” Omicron variant contaminations in New York that could have postponed the outcome of the trial beyond the New Year if one of the parties had fallen ill.
The prosecution portrayed Mme Maxwell and “Sophisticated predator” who acted knowingly to attract and seduce at the time young girls, sometimes 14 years old, and deliver them to Epstein in his residences in Florida, Manhattan or New Mexico.
The shadow of celebrities
The accused, she pleaded not guilty and spoke only once at the trial to reaffirm that she was innocent. She often appeared rather relaxed, conversing with her lawyers who kept telling the jury that their client was on trial only because Epstein had died.
In addition to this multimillionaire who died at 66, a figure in the New York financial jet set, the shadows of other celebrities have hung over this trial: British Prince Andrew, a close friend of Epstein, is the subject of a complaint in New York for “Sexual assault” twenty years ago, filed by an American now in her forties, Virginia Giuffre.
Welcoming the verdict, Mme Giuffre recalled “To have lived the horror of the attacks of Maxwell” and paid tribute to “All the other girls and young women who suffered at her hands and whose lives she destroyed”. She said she hoped that other than Maxwell “Accountable”.
The names of former US Presidents Bill Clinton and Donald Trump have also been mentioned because of their presence at parties with the Epstein-Maxwell couple in New York or Florida in the 1990s, photos to support.
Finally, on the French side, the former model agent Jean-Luc Brunel, friend of Epstein, was indicted and imprisoned in Paris in December 2020 for rape and sexual assault.
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Jeffrey Epstein case: Ghislaine Maxwell convicted of sex crimes by a New York court