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Ghislaine Maxwell found guilty in sex trafficking trial

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British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell has been found guilty of five out of six charges of recruiting and grooming teenage girls to be sexually abused by Jeffrey Epstein.

The verdict capped a monthlong trial featuring sordid accounts of the sexual exploitation of girls as young as 14, told by four women who described being abused as teens in the 1990s and early 2000s at Mr Epstein's palatial homes in Florida, New York and New Mexico.

The trial has been seen by some as a chance to hold both her and the late financier accountable.

Among the charges, she has been found guilty of sex trafficking a minor – punishable by up to 40 years in prison.

READ MORE: Maxwell 'participated' in Epstein's sexual assault on 14-year-old

Jurors deliberated for five full days before finding Ms Maxwell guilty of five of six counts.

As the verdict was read, Ms Maxwell appeared to show little reaction behind a black mask. She stood with her hands folded as the jury filed out, and glanced at her siblings as she herself was led from the courtroom, but was otherwise stoic.

Deliberations began December 20, halting after Wednesday for the Christmas holiday before resuming Monday.

She faces the likelihood of years in prison — an outcome long sought by women who spent years fighting in civil courts to hold Maxwell accountable for her role in recruiting and grooming Epstein's teenage victims and sometimes joining in the sexual abuse.

The defence had insisted Ms Maxwell was a victim of a vindictive prosecution devised to deliver justice to women deprived of their main villain when Mr Epstein killed himself while awaiting trial in 2019.

READ MORE: Ghislaine Maxwell declines to testify

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During the trial, prosecutors called 24 witnesses to give jurors a picture of life inside Epstein's homes — a subject of public fascination and speculation ever since his 2006 arrest in Florida in a child sex case.

A housekeeper testified he was expected to be "blind, deaf and dumb" about the private lives of Mr Epstein, a financier who cultivated friendships with influential politicians and business tycoons, and Ms Maxwell, who had led a jet-setting lifestyle as the favourite child of a media mogul.

In this courtroom sketch Eva Andersson Dubin, right, testifies as Judge Alison Nathan, left, listens on the bench during the Ghislaine Maxwell's sex trafficking trial, Friday, Dec. 17, 2021, in New York.

Pilots took the witness stand and dropped the names of luminaries — Britain's Prince Andrew, Bill Clinton, Donald Trump — who flew on Epstein's private jets.

Jurors saw physical evidence like a folding massage table once used by Mr Epstein and a "black book" that listed contact information for some of the victims under the heading "massages."

There were bank records showing he had transferred AUD $42 million to Ms Maxwell, his long-time companion — one-time girlfriend, later employee.

But the core of the prosecution was the testimony of four women who said they were victimised by Ms Maxwell and Mr Epstein at tender ages.

READ MORE: Teens left Jeffrey Epstein's home with '$100 bills', ex-boyfriend testifies

In this courtroom sketch, Ghislaine Maxwell, left, sits at the defence table with attorney Jeffrey Pagliuca while listening to testimony in her sex abuse trial, Thursday, December 16, 2021, in New York.

Three testified using first names or pseudonyms to protect their privacy: Jane, a television actress; Kate, a former model from Great Britain; and Carolyn, now a mom recovering from drug addiction.

The fourth was Annie Farmer, a psychologist who chose to use her real name after being vocal about her allegations in recent years.

They echoed one another in their descriptions of Maxwell's behaviour: She used charm and gifts to gain their trust, taking an interest in their adolescent challenges and giving them assurances that Mr Epstein could use his wealth and connections to fulfil their dreams.

They said the script would darken when Ms Maxwell coaxed them into giving massages to Mr Epstein that turned sexual, encounters she played off as normal: After one sexual massage, Kate, then 17, said Maxwell asked her if she'd had fun and told her: "You are such a good girl."

Prosecutors said Mr Epstein could not have sexually abused girls as young as 14 without Maxwell serving as his "lady of the house."

Ms Maxwell's lawyers claimed she is innocent.

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000.





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