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Ghislaine Maxwell was found guilty by a US jury on Wednesday of helping the late financier Jeffrey Epstein sexually abuse teenage girls, sealing a remarkable fall from grace for the British socialite.
Maxwell, 60, was accused of recruiting and grooming four teenagers for Epstein between 1994 and 2004.
Her former boyfriend Epstein killed himself in 2019 in a Manhattan jail cell while awaiting trial on sex abuse charges of his own.
She was convicted on five of six counts.
After the verdict was read, Maxwell pulled down her face mask and poured herself a glass of water.
Along with the trials of movie producer Harvey Weinstein and singer R. Kelly, Maxwell’s case is among the highest-profile trials to take place in the wake of the #MeToo movement, which encouraged women to speak out about sexual abuse by famous and powerful people.
During the trial’s closing arguments in federal court in Manhattan a prosecutor said Maxwell was Epstein’s “partner in crime.
Damian Williams, the US attorney for the Southern District of New York, applauded the verdict in a statement that said Maxwell was convicted of “one of the worst crimes imaginable.” “The road to justice has been far too long,” his statement said. “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.”
Maxwell’s attorneys had argued she was being used as a scapegoat for Epstein and sought to portray the accounts of her four accusers as not credible, saying their memories had been corrupted over the decades and that they were motivated by money.
Maxwell dated Epstein for several years in the 1990s, when the pair attended high society parties and traveled on luxurious private jets.
A few months after Epstein’s death, Maxwell purchased a home for $1 million in cash in Bradford, New Hampshire where she remained out of the limelight until her July 2020 arrest.
An FBI official said Maxwell had “slithered away.”
Maxwell, a daughter of British press baron Robert Maxwell, had been accustomed to opulence all her life.
US District Judge Alison Nathan did not say when Maxwell would be sentenced.
She said she appreciated the jury’s work in the face of surging COVID-19 cases. A woman known by the pseudonym Jane testified that she was 14 when Epstein first abused her in 1994.
Maxwell sometimes took part in her sexual encounters with Epstein and acted as if it was normal, Jane testified.
The jury also saw images depicting Maxwell’s and Epstein’s intimate relationship during the 1990s.
The never-before-seen digital photographs showed Maxwell kissing Epstein on the cheek or rubbing his bare foot.
Maxwell’s lawyers aggressively pushed back on the accusers’ accounts during the trial, arguing that their stories had shifted over the years.
Maxwell’s defense said the women were motivated by money to implicate Maxwell since all four had received million-dollar awards from a compensation fund for Epstein’s victims.
But the women disputed those characterizations, saying they decided to testify out of a desire for justice, not money.