Ghislaine Maxwell is a 60-year-old British socialite convicted by a jury in Manhattan federal court on Wednesday, December 29, 2021, for “facilitating and participating in the sexual abuse of children” by American financier Jefferey Epstein, U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement after the verdict. She met, groomed and helped traffic girls, presenting them to Epstein, knowing he would abuse them sexually in private “massage” sessions, according to prosecutors.
Epstein abused multiple girls over a period of years, the youngest of whom were 14 years old, according to court documents. He died in jail by apparent suicide on August 10, 2019, before he could be brought to justice. He was 66 at the time of his death and had signed his will days prior, the document shows.
Maxwell could be sentenced to up to 65 years in prison following the conviction. Here’s what you need to know:
1. Maxwell Undressed in Front of Victims & Touched Their Breasts
According to the indictment, Maxwell would have sexual discussions with victims and encourage them to touch Epstein sexually. She even undressed in front of them, prosecutors said. Three of four victims who testified during her trial said Maxwell touched their bare breasts during sexual encouters, according to Reuters. One victim said Maxwell also touched her bare buttocks when she was 14, according to the outlet.
Maxwell and Epstein’s minor victims testified that the sexual abuse they experienced included: touching breasts or genitals, oral sex, placing a sex toy such as a vibrator on their genitals, being directed to touch Epstein while he masturbated and being directed to touch his genitals, according to The New York Times.
To make victims feel indebted to Epstein, Maxwell supported them in accepting his financial assistance for educational expenses or travels, according to the indictment. One victim testified that Maxwell gave her hundreds of dollars in cash after she serviced Epstein, Reuters reported.
2. Maxwell Was in a Sexual Relationship With Epstein for Years
During court testimony in the month-long trial, abuse victims said Maxwell often took part in sexual encounters with Epstein. The encounters often began as massages at his opulent residences in New Mexico, Florida, New York and at Maxwell’s London home.
Maxwell herself had had a sexual relationship with Epstein since the 1990s, according to court documents. She claimed under oath that during their decades long relationship, she was not aware of Epstein having sexual relationships with women other than herself, excepting when the pair had sex with women together, according to the indictment. For these and other statements, she continues to face perjury charges.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams called Maxwell’s actions “one of the worst crimes imaginable” and referred to Epstein as Maxwell’s “long-time partner and co-conspirator.”
“The road to justice has been far too long,” Williams said in a prepared statement. “But, today, justice has been done. 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.”
3. Maxwell Drew Court Illustrators During Her Trial
Maxwell was widely known for drawing sketches of the court illustrator who was employed to create her portrait. Jane Rosenberg’s court sketches were a hit online and led the artist to be interviewed by many publications. Rosenberg told Rolling Stone that she and Maxwell developed a sort of rapport.
She also noticed that Maxwell was very demonstrative towards her lawyers, often hugging and kissing them, she told Rolling Stone, calling it “quite unusual.” She noted that Maxwell was permitted to speak briefly to her three siblings who attended the trial and said this was also highly unusual.
Maxwell’s trial took place in person during a global pandemic, so the court illustrations depict her wearing a face mask. For the artist, this presented a challenge: “You just get half a face. It’s not as interesting as seeing a whole likeness. I just have to work with the eyes,” Rosenberg told Rolling Stone. Still, Rosenberg got a clear view of Maxwell, who is staring directly at her in many illustrations and sketching.
4. Formerly Elite, Maxwell Complains of Being Served Moldy Food in Detention
Maxwell is the daughter of British media baron Robert Maxwell, who died in 1991 when he fell, jumped or was pushed off his yacht, “Lady Ghislaine.” He died insolvent and decimated the pensions of his 32,000 employees.
She grew up with money but is now a federal prison inmate in Brooklyn, where she has been held in isolation since July 2020. She has complained that her living quarters smell of raw sewage and that the food she has been served was covered in mold, according to Reuters.
Maxwell’s lawyer has said she plans to appeal her conviction and her defense team alleged the women testifying against her were motivated by money. Her conviction came just days after her birthday, which is on Christmas Day.
5. Before Her Arrest, Maxwell Was Hiding Deep in the Woods of New England
She could have been in a submarine, according to Vanity Fair, which reported that she has a license to pilot one. Instead, she hid out in a $1 million home on 156 acres in Bradford, New Hampshire, which property records show was purchased by a trust in December 2019. She had been in hiding since Epstein’s death in 2019, but on July 2, 2020, the FBI arrested her.
The home was lavish and named “Tuckedaway,” according to the local Manchester InkLink. When agents came to arrest Maxwell, they saw her through a window fleeing into an interior room of the home, according to a July 13 court filing issued by acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss and shared by reporter Marta Dhanis. “Through a window, the agents saw the defendant … try to flee to another room in the house, quickly shutting the door behind her. Agents were ultimately forced to breach the door to enter the house to arrest the defendant, who was found in an interior room in the house.” Maxwell had also wrapped her cellphone in tinfoil in a failed attempt to avoid detection, the court documents said, according to Dhanis.
Some have speculated that it was easier for Maxwell to remain in hiding due to the coronavirus pandemic, with many people wearing face masks for respiratory protection.
After her arrest, Maxwell was repeatedly denied bail ahead of her trial.