Ghislaine Maxwell, the right-hand man of pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, was found guilty in Manhattan federal court on Wednesday and faces a possible 60-year sentence. The British heiress was charged with six crimes for capturing and manipulating minors to satisfy the sexual desires of Epstein, who committed suicide in his cell in August 2019. After five days of deliberation, the jury has found her guilty of five of the six crimes (he gets rid of a charge of recruitment of minors, whose maximum penalty amounted to five years). One of the crimes, sex trafficking – the defendant transferred one of the victims between two states for Epstein to abuse her – carries a 40-year sentence.
In a verdict reached unanimously, the 12 members of the joint jury found Maxwell guilty, in a ruling that depended almost entirely on the credibility of the 24 witnesses who presented the prosecution rather than on the evidence presented: none added anything that is not known. knew, the known history of abuses of the financier and the close relationship of this with Maxwell, former sentimental partner, manager of his properties and, according to the verdict, madam of the abuse network.
The trial was based on the testimony of four victims, three of them protected by the anonymity of their own names (Jane, Kate and Carolyn); the fourth, Annie Farmer, of legal age for the purposes of sexual consent, like Kate, when the events occurred. Jane and Carolyn claimed to have been captured by Maxwell at age 14; the second, especially vulnerable due to a long history of drug use and family uprooting, claimed to be paid $ 300 for each of the more than 100 erotic massages she gave Epstein. Maxwell sometimes participated in the sessions, stroking the girls’ breasts and hips to cheer them up, according to Jane and Carolyn’s testimony.
The turnaround took place on Friday the 17th, at the end of the third week of a process that, theoretically, was going to last another three, until the first of January, when the defense unexpectedly ended its shift. As planned, the defendant, who turned 60 on Christmas Day, resigned to testify, invoking her right not to incriminate herself. “Your Honor, the prosecution has not been able to prove their accusation beyond a reasonable doubt, so my testimony does not make any sense,” Maxwell told Judge Alison Nathan that day, in his very brief passage on the stand. After the last public hearing, with the presentation of the final arguments by the prosecution and defense, the trial was seen for sentence after only 12 sessions. During the deliberations, which have lasted longer than expected at the request of the prosecutor -which forced the members of the jury to work overtime due to the high risk of contagion from the omicron variant-, he asked to review the statements of the four women and other witnesses, including the pilot of Epstein’s private plane, which allegedly once transferred the magnate, Maxwell, and one of the girls.
Although the defense had planned to call 35 witnesses to testify, in the end only nine paraded, which, according to the specialists covering the trial, showed inconsistency precisely in a case that, as the defense itself had denounced, seemed to have been tried – and sentenced- a priori. Among the exculpatory testimonies heard in the room are those of an ex-girlfriend of Epstein, who acknowledged that she suffers from memory problems; a Maxwell assistant who described her in laudatory terms and the psychologist Elizabeth Loftus, specialists in “false memories”, who tried to show how women’s memory was distorted by time and media coverage, which last his story. The jury also asked to review Loftus’ statement.
The defense also tried to discredit the testimony of the victims for their economic ambition: they have received between 1.5 and 5 million from the Victims Compensation Fund instituted by court order after the arrest of the tycoon. “Memory, manipulation and money,” stressed one of the defendant’s lawyers, was the leitmotif of their testimonies.
The defense also emphasized that the courts wanted Maxwell, heir to the controversial British media mogul Robert Maxwell and a regular figure in transatlantic high society, to account because the main defendant never appeared in court. Amid criticism of the Administration for not having been able to guarantee the safety of the pedophile, Maxwell was presented at all times as a scapegoat oblivious to the abjection of his partner for 11 years, the tycoon who emerged from nowhere – unlike the rich Ghislaine- who allegedly abused young men in his mansions in New York, Florida, New Mexico and the Virgin Islands, where he owned one.
“Ghislaine is the one on trial here. You have heard of Jeffrey Epstein’s behavior. She is filling that gap, occupying an empty chair, ”lawyer Bobbi Sternheim told the jury members. Despite the attempt to separate the lives of the two defendants, the succession of photos of the Epstein-Maxwell couple in their most intimate times made clear the indissoluble, also unhealthy, bond that united them. “Nobody lives 11 years with a man without knowing what his sexual desires are,” said Judge Nathan.
During the trial, former presidents Donald Trump and Bill Clinton were mentioned – there is graphic evidence of their contact with Epstein – the founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates, Prince Andrew of England and some US congressmen. But the only one who has splashed the caso Epstein-Maxwell He has been the son of Queen Elizabeth II of England. This Tuesday, the 28th, his lawyers filed an appeal to challenge by default the complaint filed in New York by Virginia Giuffre, who claims to have had three sexual relations with him as a minor, pushed by Epstein. In theory, the son of Queen Elizabeth II had to testify about this accusation in the middle of next year, something that his lawyers intend to prevent through the appeal. Giuffre was the go-between who put another of the victims, Carolyn, in contact with Epstein in Florida.
Maxwell, who has three nationalities (American, British and French), has at all times declared himself “not guilty” of the six crimes he was charged with, and in fact even offered to renounce French and British nationalities in exchange for the conditional freedom, during the long year that she was admitted to preventive prison. It was in vain: the daughter of the owner of the tabloid newspaper The Daily Mirror, arrested in July 2020, He had to spend the pandemic behind bars, with serious deterioration of his health according to his lawyers. No trace of the prison ravages seemed to remain in her appearance at the trial, well groomed and stylishly dressed; vivacious and proactive with her lawyers.