Jury finds Jeffrey Epstein friend Ghislaine Maxwell guilty in sex crimes trial

Key Points
  • British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell was convicted Wednesday of luring teenage girls to be sexually abused by late sex criminal and financier Jeffrey Epstein.
  • Maxwell faced six criminal counts at her trial and was found guilty of five.
  • She faces decades in prison when sentenced.
Ghislaine Maxwell guilty on 5 of 6 counts in sex abuse trial
Ghislaine Maxwell guilty on 5 of 6 counts in sex abuse trial

Ghislaine Maxwell was convicted Wednesday of procuring underage girls to be sexually abused by the late money manager Jeffrey Epstein.

Maxwell, who turned 60 years old on Christmas Day, faced six criminal counts at her trial. Jurors deliberated for five days before finding her guilty of five of the six counts, including conspiracy to entice minors to travel to engage in illegal sex acts.

She was found not guilty on one count of enticing a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts. She faces decades in prison when sentenced.

As Judge Alison Nathan read the jury's verdict in Manhattan federal court, Maxwell did not appear to have any reaction behind a black face mask. At one point she pushed her hair aside, poured bottled water into a paper cup and took a sip, according to reporters in the courtroom.

Before she was escorted out of the courtroom she glanced at her siblings, who had faithfully attended each day of her trial.

Nathan has not yet set a date for Maxwell's sentencing.

"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," wrote Damian Williams, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, in a statement following the verdict.

Ghislaine Maxwell in a courtroom sketch during her trial on Dec. 29th, 2021.
Artist: Christine Cornell

"Their courage and willingness to face their abuser made this case, and today's result, possible," he said.

Maxwell faces a second trial on perjury charges for allegedly lying under oath in a lawsuit filed by an accuser of Epstein. Prosecutors have not said whether they intend to try Maxwell on those remaining counts.

The British socialite was arrested in New Hampshire in July 2020, a year after Epstein was arrested on child sex trafficking charges.

She is the first person charged in connection with Epstein's alleged sexual abuse of underage girls other than him.

The accusers in the case were teenagers when they were allegedly abused by Epstein at his properties in the United States and London.

Most of the conduct that formed the basis of the charges occurred in the 1990s.

Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell attend de Grisogono Sponsors The 2005 Wall Street Concert Series Benefiting Wall Street Rising, with a Performance by Rod Stewart, at Cipriani Wall Street in New York City on March 15, 2005.
Joe Schildhorn | Patrick McMullan | Getty Images

During the trial, prosecutors called 24 witnesses to give jurors a view of life inside Epstein's various homes that were organized by Maxwell, his longtime companion.

Maxwell, who has been held in jail without bail since her arrest, declined to testify in her own defense, telling the judge, "The government has not proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt, and so there's no reason for me to testify."

Her lawyers argued that she was being used as a "scapegoat" for Epstein's crimes.

Jury deliberations began late in the day on Dec. 20, after a prosecutor and Maxwell's lawyer gave closing arguments and after the judge instructed jurors on the law to be applied in the case.

"She manipulated her victims and groomed them," Assistant U.S. Attorney Alison Moe told jurors in her closing argument.

"She caused deep and lasting harm to young girls. It is time to hold her accountable," Moe said.

Epstein died at age 66 in August 2019 while awaiting trial in a federal jail in Manhattan. Authorities ruled it a suicide by hanging.

Maxwell and Epstein for years had socialized with well-known and wealthy people, including former Presidents Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and Prince Andrew of Britain.

NBC archive footage shows Trump partying with Jeffrey Epstein in 1992
NBC archive footage shows Trump partying with Jeffrey Epstein in 1992

Epstein kept a much lower public profile after he pleaded guilty in 2008 to state criminal charges in Florida, which included one related to paying an underage girl for sexual services.

He served 13 months in jail for that case but spent much of that time on work release.

In 2020, an internal Justice Department investigation found that a top federal prosecutor "exercised poor judgment" in cutting a deal with Epstein in 2007 to get him to plead guilty in the state case to avoid facing federal criminal charges related to his sexual misconduct. But the report also concluded that federal prosecutors had not broken the law or engaged in professional misconduct in the deal.

The report by the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility also found that the former top federal prosecutor in Miami, Alexander Acosta, closed the federal investigation into Epstein at that time "before significant investigative steps were completed."

Acosta resigned as Trump's first Labor secretary in 2019 on the heels of Epstein's arrest on federal child sex trafficking charges after outrage over the prior no-prosecution deal he cut with Epstein.

Ghislaine Maxwell, friend of Jeffrey Epstein, arrested on child sex abuse conspiracy, perjury charges
Epstein friend Ghislaine Maxwell arrested on child sex abuse conspiracy, perjury charges