She spent decades rubbing shoulders with British royals and US presidents.
Now British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell has been found guilty on five federal sex trafficking charges, and faces decades behind bars. The trial began on Monday, 29 November.
Ms Maxwell, the daughter of the late media mogul Robert Maxwell, told a 2016 deposition that she met Jeffrey Epstein, then a wealthy financier, in 1991 through a mutual friend.
During the 1990s the couple socialised with Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, as well as Prince Andrew, with Ms Maxwell flying on Epstein’s private jets and staying at his homes, before settling in a $5m New York townhouse.
Federal prosecutors alleged that Ms Maxwell first helped Epstein in his sexual exploitation of underage girls in 1994, with Annie Farmer, then 16, alleging she was lured to Epstein’s ranch in New Mexico.
She stated in court papers that Ms Maxwell insisted on giving her a massage before Epstein tried to physically restrain and sexually assault her in a bedroom at the property.
Ms Farmer sued Epstein’s estate and Ms Maxwell, eventually accepting a compensation offer from the Epstein Victims’ Compensation Fund, and dropped her allegations as part of that settlement.
But she has alleged that Ms Maxwell “was a really important part of the grooming process”, and that the couple “worked as a team”.
The allegations against Epstein continued to mount and in 2005, a 14-year-old girl contacted police saying that she had been sexually assaulted at his home in Palm Beach, Florida.
Epstein was arrested in 2006 and charged by a grand jury with one count of solicitation of a prostitute and he eventually took a controversial plea deal in state court to prevent federal charges.
After pleading guilty to one count of solicitation of prostitution and one charge of solicitation of a minor, Epstein served 13 months in Palm Beach County Jail.
Ms Maxwell told the 2016 deposition that after Epstein was jailed she continued to occasionally work at his properties and kept her ties with him.
“I’m a very loyal person and Jeffrey was very good to me when my father passed away,” she said in the 2016 deposition.
“I felt that it was a very thoughtful, nice thing for me to do to help in a very limited fashion.”
In 2009, Virginia Giuffre sued Epstein claiming that Ms Maxwell had recruited her when she was a teenager working at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.
She settled her lawsuit with Epstein after claiming that she was made a “sex slave” for years by by he and Ms Maxwell.
Her allegations though resurfaced in 2015, when further victims of Epstein filed cases against him, and she claimed that Ms Maxwell had directed her on three occasions to have sex with Prince Andrew.
Ms Giuffre has now filed a civil case against the royal in a New York court, and he has strongly denied all the allegations made against him.
In July 2019, Epstein was arrested by law enforcement when he arrived on a private jet in New Jersey from France and he was charged with sex trafficking and sex trafficking conspiracy.
Just months later, in August, Epstein was found dead in a Manhattan prison cell while he awaited trial, with a medical examiner ruling the 66-year-old’s death suicide.
Attention then turned to Ms Maxwell, who had a personal fortune of $20m as well as British, French and US passports, and who had disappeared.
Almost exactly one year after Epstein’s arrest the FBI raided a remote estate in New Hampshire, where Ms Maxwell was found living.
She had “slithered away to a gorgeous property in New Hampshire, continuing to live a life of privilege while her victims continue to live with the trauma inflicted upon them years ago,” said Bill Sweeney, the assistant director of the FBI’s New York Field Office, as he confirmed her arrest.
Prosecutors say that Maxwell refused to answer the door to agents, who were forced to break it down and take her into custody.
On 29 December, a jury found Maxwell guilty on five federal sex trafficking charges.
She was found not guilty of one charge: enticing a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts.
Maxwell could face a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison.
- Count 1: Conspiracy to entice a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts - maximum sentence of five years
- Count 2: Enticing a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts - maximum sentence of five years
- Count 3: Conspiracy to transport a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity - maximum sentence of five years
- Count 4: Transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity - maximum sentence of 10 years
- Count 5: Conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of minors - maximum sentence of five years
- Count 6: Sex trafficking of minors - maximum sentence of 40 years
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