What does this mean for Prince Andrew?
Everyone who felt cheated by Jeffrey Epstein’s death just breathed a huge sigh of relief. Ghislaine Maxwell, whose name will ring forever with the echo “longtime confidant,” was convicted on December 29 of five out of six federal sex abuse charges. All of them related to her involvement in Epstein’s abuse of minor girls between 1994 and 2004.
The counts included sex trafficking of a minor, transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, and three related counts of conspiracy. She was acquitted of enticing a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts.
Epstein pleaded guilty in 2008 to procuring a child for prostitution and soliciting a prostitute. He was indicted on federal charges for the sex trafficking of minors in July 2019, but killed himself in prison a month later. Maxwell, his former girlfriend, was arrested on July 2, 2020, and has been held in jail since.
We’ve broken down key moments from Maxwell’s horrifying trial — plus what her conviction means not just for her victims, but also one of Epstein’s other famous associates…
Locked up for life
Maxwell, who displayed no emotion as the verdict was read, now faces up to 65 years in prison. No sentencing date has yet been set.
“The road to justice has been far too long. But, today, justice has been done,” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement. “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.”
An unexpected snag
One of the jurors in Maxwell’s trial has since claimed that his personal story of being sexually abused helped to convince the jury to convict her.
Scotty David, 35, said he “flew through” the initial questionnaire, and does not recall being asked about his own experience before he was picked to serve on the panel. He added that he’d have given honest answers about his personal story had he been asked about it during the follow-up questions known as “voir dire.”
A copy of the juror questionnaire which has been public specifically asks, “Have you or a friend or family member ever been the victim of sexual harassment, sexual abuse, or sexual assault?”
Maxwell’s defense attorneys say the disclosures “present incontrovertible grounds for a new trial.”
The victims’ heartbreaking testimony
Four victims came forward to testify in the case against Maxwell and shared horrific accounts of the abuse they suffered at her hands and Epstein’s.
A woman identified as Jane told the court that the pair gradually normalized explicit sexual activity for her from the age of 14. Jane said Maxwell transitioned quickly from behaving like a “big sister” to training her how to perform sexual massages on Epstein.
Jane said that Epstein would masturbate on her and molest her, and that Maxwell would sometimes join in, touching both her and Epstein. She said that she was “frozen in fear” when Epstein sexually abused her in a pool house at his Palm Beach mansion, and that she was forced to partake in orgies in several of his palatial homes.
Another woman identified as “Kate” said that Maxwell recruited her to give Epstein massages that quickly became sexual encounters. Maxwell regularly discussed Epstein’s “carnal needs” with her, and on one occasion, Kate was made to wear a “schoolgirl outfit” while she served him tea.
A woman identified as “Carolyn” told the court that Ghislaine Maxwell personally inspected her after she was introduced to the pair as a child, feeling her breasts and buttocks, and telling her she “had a great body for Mr. Epstein and his friends.” She remembered bringing three friends to Epstein’s Palm Beach house over the years, and was rewarded with $600 on each occasion.
Annie Farmer, the only victim who testified using her real name, said that Maxwell massaged her naked chest at Epstein’s New Mexico ranch in 1996 when she was just 16.
The ‘Lolita Express’
The prosecution’s first witness was Epstein’s longtime personal pilot, Larry Visoski. According to Visoski, Epstein was constantly on the move, flying his two private jets between mansions in New York, Palm Beach, New Mexico, his private island in the US Virgin Islands, Little Saint James, and his apartment in Paris.
Visoski recalled flying a clique of individuals including Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, Kevin Spacey and Prince Andrew across the globe. The larger Boeing plane was reportedly nicknamed the “Lolita Express.”
The ‘lady of the house’
A former employee of Epstein’s testified that Maxwell tightly regulated everything in his Palm Beach mansion as “lady of the house.”
Juan Alessi, who worked as Epstein’s house manager for more than a decade in the 1990s, told jurors per AFP that Maxwell enforced a “tremendous” number of rules, including a warning to avoid eye contact with Epstein.
“Remember that you see nothing, hear nothing, say nothing, except to answer a question directed at you,” read a 58-page staff instruction manual exhibited in court.
“NEVER disclose Mr. Epstein or Ms. Maxwell’s activities or whereabouts to anyone,” it continued.
Maxwell was apparently in the habit of giving staff very little notice of Epstein’s arrival to his properties, meaning they’d be scrambling to complete the extensive preparations stipulated in the handbook. These included stocking his fleet of luxury cars with 100-dollar bills.
Alessi also remembered seeing girls who looked about 14 or 15 years old, including the victim who testified under the pseudonym “Jane.” He added that he recalled picking her up from school.
Bad news for Prince Andrew?
Maxwell’s trial featured no evidence against Prince Andrew, who’s currently being sued by Virginia Roberts Giuffre, one of Epstein’s victims. But he and Maxwell have long been close friends. During an infamous BBC interview in 2019, Prince Andrew claimed that his relationship with Epstein was only the result of his long-standing friendship with Maxwell.
But as Dominic Casciani for the BBC points out, Maxwell cannot be seen as a buffer between Epstein’s friends and his abuse. The result of her trial forces the conclusion that Maxwell was central to Epstein’s sex trafficking empire, rather than an ignorant associate. This casts different implications over Andrew’s relationship with Maxwell, which could be relevant in Giuffre’s damages case.
Maxwell’s trial also revealed never-before-seen photos of her with Epstein, to emphasize their closeness. In one, they’re at Balmoral, Queen Elizabeth’s private Scottish residence. Prince Andrew reportedly invited them to stay there in 1999.
What this verdict means for victims
Civil attorney Dan Kaiser, who represents several alleged Epstein victims (though none involved in this trial), told NBC during the trial: “This is a ring that ensnared dozens and dozens and dozens of girls. And Maxwell was an integral player.”
Annie Farmer said that she hopes the verdicts can offer some consolation to Maxwell’s victims.
“I am 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 said, per CNN. “She has caused hurt to many more women than the few of us who had the chance to testify in the courtroom.”
According to NBC, Virginia Giuffre, who wasn’t named in the case, but was among the earliest of Maxwell and Epstein’s victims to come forward, said she would “remember this day always.”
“Having lived with the horrors of Maxwell’s abuse, my heart goes out to the many other girls and young women who suffered at her hands and whose lives she destroyed,” Giuffre said.
“I hope that today is not the end but rather another step in justice being served,” she added. “Maxwell did not act alone. Others must be held accountable. I have faith that they will be.”