British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell has been convicted of luring teenage girls to be sexually abused by the American millionaire Jeffrey Epstein.
The verdict capped a month-long trial featuring sordid accounts of the sexual exploitation of girls as young as 14, told by four women who described being abused as teenagers in the 1990s and early 2000s at Epstein’s homes in Florida, New York and New Mexico.
Jurors deliberated for five full days before finding Maxwell guilty of five of six counts, the Associated Press reported.
As the verdict was read, 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.
Sentencing will follow at a later date but legal observers say she may now face the rest of her life in jail.
‘One of the worst crimes imaginable’
A statement from the US attorney’s office said: “A unanimous jury has found Ghislaine Maxwell guilty of one of the worst crimes imaginable – facilitating and participating in the sexual abuse of children. Crimes that she committed with her long-time partner and co-conspirator, Jeffrey Epstein.
“The road to justice has been far too long. 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.
‘No-one is above the law’
“I also want to thank the career prosecutors of the Southern District of New York, who embraced the victims’ quest for justice and have worked tirelessly, day in and day out, to ensure that Maxwell was held accountable for her crimes.
“This office will always stand with victims, will always follow the facts wherever they lead, and will always fight to ensure that no-one, no matter how powerful and well connected, is above the law.”