British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell was found guilty on Wednesday of recruiting and grooming 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 charges she faced, including the most serious charge of sex trafficking of minors.
The 60-year-old daughter of the late British press baron Robert Maxwell could spend the rest of her life behind bars.
The sex trafficking of minors carries a maximum sentence of 40 years. Minor charges have terms of five or ten years.
Maxwell sat passively in the Manhattan courtroom, slowly removing his mask to sip water, as Judge Alison Nathan read the verdicts on each of the charges.
Nathan offered his “sincere thanks” to the jury for their service, adding that they served “diligently.”
The jury deliberated for a full five days before reaching a verdict in the high-profile case.
After the verdict was read, Nathan adjourned the trial and Maxwell left the courtroom and was detained as he has done every day of the month-long trial.
No date was set for his sentence.
The charges against Maxwell originated between 1994 and 2004.
Two of Epstein’s alleged victims said they were only 14 years old when Maxwell allegedly began grooming and arranging for Epstein to receive massages that resulted in sexual activity.
One, identified only as “Jane,” detailed how Maxwell recruited her to summer camp and made her feel “special.”
He said sexual encounters with Epstein became routine, and that at times Maxwell was present.
Another, named “Carolyn,” said she was usually paid $ 300 after sexual encounters with Epstein, often by Maxwell herself.
A third alleged victim was Annie Farmer, now 42, who said Maxwell fondled her breasts as a teenager on Epstein’s New Mexico ranch.
– ‘Sophisticated predator’ –
Epstein, 66, committed suicide in jail in 2019 while awaiting his own trial for sex crimes. Maxwell was arrested the following year.
Maxwell had pleaded not guilty to all charges. The prosecution described her as a “sophisticated predator who knew exactly what she was doing.”
Prosecutor Alison Moe said Maxwell was “the key” to Epstein’s plan to tempt young women into giving him massages, during which he would sexually abuse them.
Maxwell “was Epstein’s partner in crime,” Moe said.
Maxwell’s defense team responded that there was a “lack of evidence” to convict and questioned the ability of the prosecutors to recall events from a quarter of a century ago.
The team also argued that Maxwell was being used as a “scapegoat” for Epstein’s crimes after he evaded justice.
Maxwell refused to take the stand during the trial, but made a brief statement to the judge.
“Your Honor, the government has not proven your case beyond a reasonable doubt, so you do not need to testify,” he said.