For most of last month, Ghislaine Maxwell (Ghislaine Maxwell) sat in court in New York, looking very close to her former self.
She wore all kinds of comfortable sweaters and tailor-made slacks instead of prison uniforms and combed her hair. When she smiled at the family and friends sitting in the gallery behind her, she exuded the charm of the socialite era. This illusion will only disappear when the court is adjourned, because Maxwell was escorted out by an American marshal and returned to her cell.
But on Wednesday night, on the sixth day of deliberations, a 12-person jury broke this illusion and returned the 60-year-old Maxwell back to her cell, possibly in her next days. Found her guilty Five of the six criminal charges were for helping her ex-partner Jeffrey Epstein (Jeffrey Epstein) sexually abuse a 14-year-old girl.
This is an amazing verdict, especially after a long period of deliberation. The question now is what Maxwell will do next — and what other illusions may be shattered.
Maxwell’s lawyers said on Wednesday night that they are processing the appeal. However, faced with 65 years of imprisonment, she will soon come to the conclusion that after years of obstructing the authorities, it is in her interest to cooperate with the authorities. If so, it could lead to accusations against others in Epstein’s operations, such as other former assistants, who may have helped manage what the US authorities call the “Pyramid Project,” recruiting dozens of underage girls for abuse.
Maxwell’s cooperation will also carry out a new censorship of rich and powerful people who colluded with Epstein-Epstein committed suicide in jail in 2019-and his accusers said they were trafficked to them. .
“I don’t think this is the end,” said David Boyce. His company Boyce Schiller represented Virginia Roberts Juffer. He was one of the first plaintiffs of Epstein to go public. He is now suing him. Former friend, Prince Andrew of England, sexually abused. Prince Andrew denied these allegations.
“She has nothing to lose now,” Boyce said of Maxwell. “At some point, she may want to maintain relationships with rich and powerful people. But those people will not do her any good in prison.”
He believes that given the weight of the jury verdict, freedom may no longer be an option. But speaking the name may allow her to spend the rest of her life outside of prison. (Boyce faces his own criticism because Defending Harvey Weinstein, The Hollywood producer was convicted of rape last year).
The Maxwell test will have other more direct effects. This may be a landmark moment in which the traditional defense strategy of “blaming the victim” and discrediting their character has failed.
Maxwell’s legal team, led by Bobbi Sternheim and Laura Menninger, is full of enthusiasm. Their defense was almost entirely dedicated to the brutal cross-examination of the four female plaintiffs who testified against Maxwell.
The lawyer argued that The witness is a liar, To distort facts in pursuit of the “first prize” of economic compensation. An accuser’s past experience with drug use was told. Another was accused of lying about her family’s financial pressure after her father died suddenly. When Menninger told them in detail what happened more than 20 years ago, most of them were moved to tears.
As the jury’s deliberations continued until after Christmas and they asked for more testimony to be reviewed, many legal analysts believed that the defense strategy was working. Then the verdict came.
“The verdict sends a clear message that we can no longer tolerate accusations of sexual abuse survivors who have the courage to come forward. I am very happy to see these brave women being trusted and capable defendants held accountable,” Barasch, New York & McGarry’s senior partner Barry Salzman said that he represented several Epstein victims.
Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond, predicted that Maxwell would appeal, “because she has nothing to lose at this point.”However, he added, “Maxwell will have difficulty overturning the verdict because the judge [Alison] Nathan is a skilled judge, and the trial seems fair. “
At the same time, according to people who know Roberts Giuffre, the sentence is not so much a celebration as a relief. When she read this letter, she and her family were far away, in her adopted home in Australia.
In 2015, after she was called a liar for publicly claiming abuse, she sued Maxwell for defamation. The lawsuit was finally resolved, but it created a large number of documents about Epstein and Maxwell’s world, which was caught by reporters and lawyers.
Among them was a testimony from Maxwell, who claimed to be unaware of Epstein’s plans to recruit underage girls or to buy sex toys on his property. The testimony eventually led to criminal charges of perjury against her, which are still pending.
“My soul has longed for justice for many years, and today the jury gave me this. I will always remember this day,” Roberts Juffrey said in a statement after the verdict.
For other colleagues of Epstein, a worrying sign is that she also made it clear that she thinks the matter is not over yet. “I hope today is not the end, but another step towards justice,” she said. “Maxwell did not act alone. Others must be held accountable. I believe they will.”