British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell has been found guilty of sex crimes including the most serious charge of sex trafficking a minor.
British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell was found guilty on Wednesday of recruiting and grooming young girls to be sexually abused by the late American financier Jeffrey Epstein.
Maxwell was convicted by a 12-person jury of five of the six counts she was facing including the most serious charge of sex trafficking a minor.
The 60-year-old daughter of the late British press baron Robert Maxwell could potentially spend the rest of her life behind bars.
Conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of minors carries a maximum 40-year sentence. The lesser charges have terms of five or 10 years Maxwell sat passively in the Manhattan courtroom, slowly removing her mask to take sips of water, as Judge Alison Nathan read out the verdicts for each of the six counts.
Nathan offered her “sincere thanks” to the jury for their service, adding that they served with “diligence.”
At 5:10pm local time Nathan adjourned the proceedings and Maxwell walked out of the courtroom into detention as she has done every day of the trial.
No date was set for her sentencing.
The charges against Maxwell stemmed from 1994 to 2004.
Two of Epstein’s alleged victims said they were as young as 14 when Maxwell allegedly began grooming them and arranging for them to give massages to Epstein that ended in sexual activity.
Earlier jurors asked for transcripts of the testimony of five witnesses as the judge suggested they work through the New Year’s holidays if needed.
The 12-person jury deliberated for four full days, raising concerns that surging Omicron infections would derail the trial of the 60-year-old British socialite.
The jurors asked to review the transcripts of five witnesses on Wednesday, including that of key defense witness Elizabeth Loftus, a memory expert.
Loftus, who has testified in approximately 300 trials, including those of Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby, testified that recollections become distorted over time and that “false memories” can be planted during questioning years later.
“The older the event is the more susceptible people are to having post-event suggestion contaminate their memory,” she said.
Jurors also asked for the testimony of three other defense witnesses: that of Maxwell’s former executive assistant Cimberly Espinosa and two FBI agents, Amanda Young and Jason Richards.
The other transcript requested was that of a prosecution witness, Shawn, a former boyfriend of one of Maxwell’s accusers, a woman who was identified in court only as “Carolyn.” Maxwell, wearing a burgundy pullover, black trousers and black face mask, looked relaxed in court on Wednesday as she chatted with her attorneys.
She also appeared to have a brief conversation with a journalist which was inaudible to the courtroom.
US prosecutors alleged that the daughter of former British newspaper baron Robert Maxwell was a knowing participant in the conduct of Epstein, who killed himself in a US jail in 2019 while awaiting his own sex crimes trial.
Prosecutor Alison Moe argued that Maxwell was “the key” to Epstein’s scheme of enticing young girls to give him massages, during which he would sexually abuse them.
Maxwell’s defense team countered that there was a lack of evidence to convict and questioned the accusers’ ability to recollect quarter-century-old events.
The team also argued that Maxwell was being used as a “scapegoat” for Epstein’s crimes after he evaded justice.
Maxwell, who turned 60 on Christmas Day, did not testify but in a defiant statement to the court said prosecutors had failed to prove her guilt.
– More to come
Originally published as British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell found guilty of sex crimes