US jury finds Ghislaine Maxwell guilty of aiding in the sexual abuse of Jeffrey Epstein

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British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell was convicted on Wednesday by an American jury of helping the late financier Jeffrey Epstein sexually assault teenage girls.

Maxwell was convicted of the first of six counts. The jury was still delivering the verdict on the other five counts.

Maxwell, 60, was charged with recruiting and grooming four teenagers for Epstein between 1994 and 2004. Her ex-boyfriend Epstein committed suicide in 2019 in a Manhattan jail cell while awaiting trial on his own charges of sexual abuse.

Maxwell could be sentenced to 70 years in prison on the six counts she faced in this trial. She also faces two counts of perjury which will be tried separately.

Along with the trials of film producer Harvey Weinstein and singer R. Kelly, Maxwell’s case is among the most high-profile trials to have taken place in the wake of the #MeToo movement, which encouraged women to speak out against sexual abuse. by famous and powerful people. .

In closing arguments in the Manhattan federal court trial, a prosecutor said Maxwell was Epstein’s “criminal partner”.

“Ghislaine Maxwell made her own choices. She committed crimes hand in hand with Jeffrey Epstein. She was a grown woman who knew exactly what she was doing, ”US Deputy Prosecutor Alison Moe said.

Maxwell’s lawyers argued that she was being used as Epstein’s scapegoat and sought to present the accounts of his four accusers as not credible, claiming their memories had been corrupted over decades and they were motivated by money.

“Epstein’s death left a gaping hole in the pursuit of justice for many of these women,” Maxwell defense attorney Bobbi Sternheim said. “She fills this hole and fills this empty chair.”

(REUTERS)

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