Guilty. That was the Court’s decision on Ghislaine Maxwell’s case. On Wednesday afternoon in a federal court in Manhattan, she was found guilty of sex-trafficking and conspiracy with Jeffrey Epstein to recruit, groom and sexually abuse underage girls.
Maxwell, 60, ex-girlfriend and friend of American financier Jeffrey Epstein, was found guilty on five of six counts against her, related to her role in the sexual abuse episodes of Epstein between 1994 and 2004. The daughter of former publishing tycoon Robert Maxwell pleaded not guilty, and as Judge Alison Nathan read the jury’s verdict, Maxwell did not appear to have any reaction behind a black face mask.
Maxwell's trial lasted about a month and was heavily followed in the United States and in the rest of the world. As the New York Times effectively summarized “Ms. Maxwell’s trial was widely seen as the courtroom reckoning that Mr. Epstein never had.”. Epstein had in fact committed suicide in prison in August 2019, a month after being arrested on charges of sexual exploitation.
Jurors deliberated for five days before finding her guilty of five of the six counts. Among other things, she was found guilty of identifying underage girls and persuading them to have sex with Epstein, and of accompanying them or arranging their transportation. Prosecutors said that Maxwell “preyed on vulnerable young girls, manipulated them and served them up to be sexually abused”. She was however acquitted of one count of enticing a minor to travel to another State lines to engage in an illegal sexual act with Epstein.
It is not yet known when the sentence for Maxwell will be communicated. The heavier penalty for the most serious crime of which she was found guilty, that of child sex trafficking, goes up to 40 years in prison. The other four offenses provide for maximum sentences of between 5 and 10 years in prison.
As the New York Times said: “Ms. Maxwell’s conviction closed another chapter in the saga of Mr. Epstein, whose lurid exploits, dealings with the criminal justice system and cast of famous friends made him — and, by extension, Ms. Maxwell — the subject of intense public scrutiny for years.” Both Epstein and Maxwell were well-known in the public sphere because for years they had socialized with well-known and wealthy people, including former Presidents Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, and Prince Andrew. The monarch has also been accused of inducing Virginia Giuffre to have sex with him when she was 17 in 2001.
“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,” wrote Damian Williams, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, in a statement following the verdict.
“I am so relieved and grateful that the jury recognized the pattern of predatory behavior that Maxwell engaged in for years and found her guilty,” said Annie Farmer, one of the victims who testified at the trial. “She has caused hurt to many more women than the few of us who had the chance to testify in the courtroom. I hope that this verdict brings solace to all who need it and demonstrates that no one is above the law.” Virginia Giuffre also shared her thoughts on Twitter: “My soul yearned for justice for years and today the jury gave me just that. I hope that today is not the end but rather another step in justice being served. Maxwell did not act alone. Others must be held accountable. I have faith that they will be.”
We now hope that the Epstein story won’t end with Ghislaine Maxwell’s sentence. She deserves life in prison-no doubt, but all involved need to be called out and held accountable. We should let princes and presidents walk free or this horror will happen again. Now one should be invincible in front of the law.
Written by Miriam Tagini