British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell has been found guilty of five separate charges related to a sex trafficking ring she oversaw alongside deceased financier Jeffrey Epstein.
Maxwell, 59, could confront up to 65 years in prison because of the convictions.
She pleaded not guilty on all six federal charges lodged against her, but escaped conviction on just one: Enticing a minor to travel to include in illegal sex acts.
Prosecutors based their case on the testimony of four meaningful witnesses, victims of the pair’s abuse. Authorities argued Maxwell attempted to lure multiple girls across state lines to include in sexual acts with Epstein, who died by suicide in prison in 2019 before going on trial.
They alleged, for example, that between 1994 and 1997 Maxwell persuaded an underaged girl to travel from Florida to New York with the intention of having her include in sexual activity with Epstein.
They argued this conduct violated a provision of federal sex trafficking law which outlaws recruiting minors to participate in a “commercial sex act.”
One of the witnesses, Carolyn, who testified under only her first name, said she was just 14 when she first had sexual relations with Epstein. She claimed Maxwell would then pay her hundreds of dollars after engaging in erotic massages with the Epstein.
During the trial, witnesses said they were drawn into Epstein’s orbit under the false impression that Maxwell was a “sisterly” figure who wanted to help them with scholarships and introduce them to her network of powerful contacts.
Prosecutors described Ms Maxwell as a “complex predator” who had run a playbook of abuse “again and again” as she targeted unprotected young girls, and acted as an “age-appropriate” cover for Epstein’s offending.
The jury reached its decision after 40 hours of deliberations spread over six days, with a four-day pause for the Christmas holiday.
Authorities famous the conviction.
US Attorney Damian Williams of the Southern District of New York, where the trial was held, praised the verdict in a statement.
“The road to justice has been far too long. But, today, justice has been done,” Mr Williams said.
The prosecutor praised the witnesses for coming forward against Maxwell.
“I want to commend the bravery of the girls – now grown women – who stepped out of the shadows and into the courtroom,” he said. “Their courage and willingness to confront their abuser made this case, and today’s consequence, possible.”
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