Ghislaine Maxwell’s been convicted. What comes next?
▶ Watch Video: Ghislaine Maxwell found guilty on five out of six counts, including sex trafficking of a minor
Ghislaine Maxwell is behind bars — the same place she’s been since she was arrested in July 2020 — after she was found guilty by a New York jury on Wednesday of grooming minors for sexual abuse at the hands of her longtime associate Jeffrey Epstein.
Maxwell was found guilty on five out of six sex trafficking-related charges, and faces up to 65 years if she receives the maximum sentence. A sentencing date has not yet been set.
Maxwell’s defense attorneys have already indicated that they plan to appeal the conviction. Bobbi Sternheim, part of Maxwell’s defense team, said after the verdict that “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.”
Maxwell still faces a second trial on two counts of perjury that were contained in her initial indictment, which allege that she lied under oath about Epstein’s sexual abuse as part of accuser Virginia Guiffre’s 2016 civil case against the wealthy financier.
The judge previously granted the defense’s request to bring the charges into a separate trial. Each perjury charge carries a maximum of five years in prison if she’s convicted.
Maxwell was convicted on charges that included conspiracy and transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, related to Epstein’s alleged misconduct. She was acquitted on one count of enticement of a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts.
Epstein, a convicted sex offender who had social ties to a wide range of business and political leaders, died in what officials ruled a suicide in his jail cell at Manhattan’s Metropolitan Correctional Center on August 10, 2019.
The defense used a three-pronged approach to poke holes in the various statements the accusers have given to government officials over the years, and presented Maxwell as a scapegoat following Epstein’s death. At the time of his death, Epstein was in custody awaiting his own trial on sex trafficking charges.
At Maxwell’s trial, Sternheim told jurors that “This case is about memory, manipulation and money.” The defense also highlighted how much money each woman was paid from the Epstein victims’ compensation fund.
Maxwell’s family said in a statement after the verdict that they “believe firmly in our sister’s innocence.”
“We are very disappointed with the verdict,” the family said. “We have already started the appeal tonight and we believe that she will ultimately be vindicated.”
A Ghislaine Maxwell Twitter account run by her brothers and sisters posted Thursday: “Our next battle is when we go for the Appeal – watch this space.”
Survivors celebrated the conviction as a step toward justice. Annie Farmer, the accuser who testified and waived her right to anonymity at trial, said she was “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,” Farmer said in a statement. “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.”
But other accusers, like Virginia Robert Giuffre, noted that others who helped enable Epstein’s actions for years have yet to be brought to justice. “I hope that today is not the end but rather another step in justice being served,” she said. “Maxwell did not act alone. Others must be held accountable. I have faith that they will be.”
Giuffre was not a testifying witness nor a named victim in the government’s case at this trial, but her name had come up several times in court.
On Wednesday, Maxwell defense attorney Christian Everdell requested additional time to confer with fellow defense lawyers Sternheim, Laura Menninger, and Jeffrey Pagliuca before offering the court a schedule for sentencing. Judge Alison Nathan did not specify how much time they had to file that schedule and has postponed the preparation of the presentence report until then.
What Nathan and defense attorney Sternheim did agree on, however, was ensuring Maxwell had access to a coronavirus vaccine booster shot. Judge Nathan assured Sternheim she had inquired that very morning and confirmed the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, where Maxwell will remain, has boosters available.
Nathalie Nieves contributed to reporting.