NEW YORK CITY — A jury in New York on Wednesday convicted British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell of grooming minors for sexual abuse at the hands of Jeffrey Epstein. Maxwell was found guilty of five of the six federal counts related to Epstetin's sex trafficking ring.
Maxwell, 59, pleaded not guilty to the charges stemming from her interactions with four teenage girls from 1994 to 2004. During that span, Maxwell was romantically involved with and then later worked for Epstein.
She faces a maximum sentence of 65 years in prison on the counts that she was convicted of.
"A unanimous jury has found Ghislaine Maxwell guilty of one of the worst crimes imaginable – facilitating and participating in the sexual abuse of children," U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement after the verdict. "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. Their courage and willingness to face their abuser made this case, and today's result, possible."
Maxwell opted not to testify in her own defense at trial, and has denied the allegations detailed in the indictment and all claims of wrongdoing.
Bobbi Sternheim, part of Maxwell's defense team, said after the verdict, "We firmly believe in Ghislaine's innocence. We are very disappointed in the verdict. We have already started working on an appeal and we are confident that she will be vindicated."
The jury heard testimony from the four accusers at the center of the case. Three of them opted for anonymity, using either pseudonyms or first names only, and were known to the jury as Jane Doe, Kate and Carolyn. The final accuser to testify was Annie Farmer, who, along with her sister Maria Farmer, have been vocal about the sexual abuse they say each experienced at the hands of Epstein and Maxwell. The sisters were among the first women to report Epstein's alleged sexual abuse to authorities.
After the verdict, Farmer said she was "so relieved and grateful that the jury recognized the pattern of predatory behavior that Maxwell engaged in for years and found her guilty of these crimes."
"She has caused hurt to many more women than the few of us who had the chance to testify in the courtroom," Annie Farmer said in a statement after the verdict. "I hope that this verdict brings solace to all who need it and demonstrates that no one is above the law. Even those with great power and privilege will be held accountable when they sexually abuse and exploit the young."
- Nathalie Nieves contributed reporting