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Ghislaine Maxwell guilty of trafficking teenage girls for abuse by Jeffrey Epstein
29 December 2021, 23:34 | Updated: 30 December 2021, 09:41
British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell has been convicted of helping paedophile Jeffrey Epstein sexually abuse teenage girls.
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Jurors deliberated for five full days before finding Maxwell guilty of five of the six counts she faced.
The verdict capped a month-long trial featuring sordid accounts of the sexual exploitation of girls as young as 14, told by four women who described being abused as teenagers in the 1990s and early 2000s at Epstein's homes in Florida, New York and New Mexico.
A statement from the US attorney's office said: "A unanimous jury has found Ghislaine Maxwell guilty of one of the worst crimes imaginable - facilitating and participating in the sexual abuse of children. Crimes that she committed with her long-time partner and co-conspirator, Jeffrey Epstein.
"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.
"Their courage and willingness to face their abuser made this case, and today's result, possible.
LISTEN: Hunting Ghislaine: The Trial
"I also want to thank the career prosecutors of the Southern District of New York, who embraced the victims' quest for justice and have worked tirelessly, day in and day out, to ensure that Maxwell was held accountable for her crimes.
"This office will always stand with victims, will always follow the facts wherever they lead, and will always fight to ensure that no-one, no matter how powerful and well connected, is above the law."
As the verdict was read, Maxwell appeared to show little reaction. She stood with her hands folded as the jury filed out, and glanced at her siblings as she was led from the courtroom.
Jurors had earlier been told that they would have to work through the New Year's holiday after they inquired about that possibility, suggesting a verdict was not near.
However, on Wednesday evening, Maxwell was found guilty of conspiring to entice underage girls to be abused as well as transporting and sex trafficking them.
She was cleared of enticing a girl under the age of 17 to travel with intent to engage in illegal sexual activity.
The daughter of disgraced media tycoon Robert Maxwell, the 60-year-old attempted to start a new life in Manhattan after his death in 1991 and met Epstein the following year.
Mr Maxwell was found drowned after apparently falling from his yacht - called Lady Ghislaine - off the Tenerife coast.
His sons, Ian and Kevin Maxwell, who were on the board of the Maxwell Communication Corporation, were investigated after their father's death over an alleged conspiracy to defraud the company's pension fund. Both were cleared of fraud in 1996.
Despite attempts from Maxwell's defence counsel to distance her from Epstein, a vast array of photographs of the pair in a variety of exotic locations surfaced during her trial - with images of her massaging the convicted sex offender's feet suggesting a close relationship.
Her trial in a federal court in the Southern District of New York heard the pair bragged about being friends with high-profile figures, including former US president Donald Trump.
With the fortune he made from his financial dealings, Epstein and Maxwell lived a life of luxury jetting around the world and living at the millionaire's many properties, including: a Manhattan town house, his Palm Beach mansion, a ranch in New Mexico and his private island in the US Virgin Islands.
Maxwell's friends also included royalty. She had known the Duke of York since her days at university and introduced Andrew to her former partner, Epstein.
In a Newsnight interview, Andrew admitted he organised a shooting weekend for the defendant at the Queen's Sandringham Estate.
In 2000, he was pictured in Thailand attending a "hooker and pimps" party with Maxwell.
But an allegation he had sex with Virginia Roberts on three separate occasions - once allegedly at Maxwell's Belgravia home - ultimately damaged his reputation.
The defendant was featured in the background of a picture which apparently showed Andrew with his arm around the waist of Ms Roberts, also known as Virginia Giuffre.
The duke categorically denies he had any form of sexual contact or relationship with Ms Roberts.
Epstein was convicted in 2008 of soliciting and procuring a minor for prostitution, and Maxwell was arrested in New Hampshire on July 3 last year.
Her trial heard how she summoned a 14-year-old girl to an orgy, groped another teenager and laid a schoolgirl outfit out for another accuser before a sexualised massage with Epstein because she "thought it would be fun".
Epstein killed himself in a federal detention centre in New York in August 2019 while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.
In her opening statement to the jury, Lara Pomerantz, United States Assistant Attorney, said of Maxwell: "She preyed on vulnerable young girls, manipulated them and served them up to be sexually abused.
"The defendant was trafficking kids for sex. That is what this trial is all about."
Defending the socialite, her counsel, Bobbi Sternheim, told the jury: "The charges against Ghislaine Maxwell are for things Jeffrey Epstein did.
"But she is not Jeffrey Epstein."