I think we all know the top story this morning - Ghislaine Maxwell, the former confidante of Jeffrey Epstein, was found guilty on five out of six counts.
She will most likely spend the rest of her life in jail.
In a New York court room, five guilty verdicts were read out. Ghislaine Maxwell, a former lover of Jeffrey Epstein, was found guilty of helping him abuse young girls. The prosecution argued Maxwell had been motivated financially too, receiving more than $30 million from Epstein over the course of a decade.
After going off the radar following the death of Epstein in 2019, Maxwell was found and arrested in July 2020. She has been in jail ever since, denied multiple bail applications. She declined to testify during the trial, arguing there was "no need" to because the prosecution had not proven their case. She was found guilty on Wednesday on five out of the six charges she faced.
Below are some of the key details to note at this point;
- The trial lasted three weeks - it was originally expected to carry on for six weeks
- There were four accusers - three testified using pseudonyms, (Jane, Kate and Carolyn) Annie Farmer used her real name
- Jane and Carolyn said they were just 14-years-old when they were introduced to Epstein, Kate said she was 17, and Annie Farmer was 16
- Prosecutors called 24 witnesses over the course of ten days, while the defence called nine witnesses over two days
- The jury deliberated for more than five full days - or more than 40 hours - before reaching a verdict, taking a break over the Christmas period
- A date for sentencing has not yet been set, but she now faces up to 65 years in prison
- According to BBC News, Maxwell "showed no visible sign of emotion" as the verdict was read out, instead pouring a glass of water which she sipped from twice
- Maxwell's siblings - who were present in court throughout the trial - have already launched an appeal
"We firmly believe in Ghislaine's innocence. Obviously we are very disappointed with the verdict. We have already started working on the appeal, and we are confident that she will be vindicated." - Bobbi Sternheim, Maxwell's defence lawyer
The exact charges Maxwell was convicted on...
- sex trafficking of a minor
- transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity
- conspiracy to transport minors with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity
- conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of minors
- conspiracy to entice minors to travel to engage in illegal sex acts
Worth noting: all of the charges relate to the years between 1994 and 2004. The most serious charge she was convicted on was sex trafficking a minor, which could alone lead to a sentence of up to 40 years in prison.
The one charge she was found not guilty on was enticing a minor to engage in illegal sex acts. This charge related to the accuser Jane.
Why wasn't Prince Andrew mentioned much? It is true. He barely featured in the trial. A lot of this is associated with the decision by the prosecution not to call on Virginia Giuffre - one of the most prominent Maxwell accusers - to testify. She is the woman who claims she was forced to have sex with Prince Andrew, and has filed a civil lawsuit against him. As The Guardian noted, Giuffre's absence from the trial "was perplexing," but prosecutors "may have feared it would complicate the case".
There is a lot of online speculation now regarding whether or not Maxwell - facing the rest of her life in prison - might open up about possible high profile men who benefited from Epstein's sexual abuse and exploitation of women.
As The Times noted, Epstein "counted celebrities and world leaders among his associates".
“The scope and scale and duration of their sex trafficking crimes depended on many wealthy and powerful collaborators and co-conspirators. They too are not above the law. They too must be brought to justice.” - David Boies, lawyer for Virginia Giuffre
Another lawyer, Florida-based Jack Scarola, suggested Maxwell "may now be prepared" it assist prosecutors.
Want to read more? This is without a doubt the best article on Ghislaine Maxwell and the extraordinary trial since the verdicts were announced. It makes for a long but incredibly informative read.
- BBC News: Maxwell guilty of helping Epstein abuse girls
- The Guardian: Prince Andrew emerges with barely a mention in Ghislaine Maxwell trial
- The Financial Times: Ghislaine Maxwell found guilty in sex-trafficking trial
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