On Wednesday, a federal jury in New York found Ghislaine Maxwell guilty on five of six counts related to her involvement in Jeffrey Epstein’s sex-trafficking of teenaged girls between 1994 and 2004.
Maxwell was charged with six counts including sex-trafficking of a minor, transportation of a minor to engage in illegal sex, enticement of a minor to travel to perform sex acts, and three counts of conspiracy in connection with the previous charges. She pleaded not guilty to all charges in July.
She was found not guilty on the count of luring a minor to travel to participate in illegal sex acts. Since she was acquitted on one count, Maxwell faces up to 65 years in prison rather than the 70-year maximum had she been convicted of all six.
The prosecution had argued that Maxwell baited adolescent girls into serving Epstein over many years by priming them gradually in sexual actions.
“Maxwell was a sophisticated predator who knew exactly what she was doing,” prosecutor Alison Moe said in court last week. “She manipulated her victims and groomed them for sexual abuse.”
Four women testified during the trial that Epstein had exploited them sexually when they were young girls and that Maxwell was instrumental in coordinating it.
The defense challenged the recollections of some of the witnesses, claiming that they were based on “erroneous memories.” Laura Menninger, a defense lawyer for Maxwell, suggested that Epstein was predominantly culpable and that the prosecution was treating his surviving associate as the scapegoat for his misdeeds.
“This has nothing to do with Ghislaine and everything to do with Jeffrey Epstein,” Menninger said. “Ghislaine Maxwell is an innocent woman wrongfully accused of crimes she did not commit.”
Epstein was imprisoned for federal sex-trafficking in July 2019 but committed suicide in jail a month later. Maxwell, his confidante and former girlfriend, was arrested a year later for her role in his sexual-abuse ring.