New York (AFP) – Victims of the British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell and her former partner, the late American financier Jeffrey Epstein, welcomed a jury’s decision Wednesday finding Maxwell guilty of child sex trafficking.
“I am so relieved and grateful that the jury recognized the pattern of predatory behavior that Maxwell engaged in,” said Annie Farmer, one of four victims to testify in the high-profile trial, in a statement on Twitter.
“I hope that this verdict brings solace to all who need it and demonstrates that no one is above the law,” said Farmer, who was the only woman not to testify under a pseudonym.
“Even those with great power and privilege will be held accountable when they sexually abuse and exploit the young.”
The 60-year-old Maxwell, daughter of the late British media baron Robert Maxwell, was found guilty in a Manhattan federal court of a series of sex crimes, the most serious being the sex trafficking of a minor, which carries a maximum 40 year sentence.
Four women testified that between 1994 and 2004, Maxwell recruited and groomed them for sex with Epstein. Two of the women were 14 years old at the time.
Theresa Helm, another Epstein accuser who did not participate in the trial, described Maxwell as a “master manipulator.”
“Ghislaine Maxwell will never again have the opportunity to take anything from anyone. She will reside on the other side of freedom. Us — survivors — we go free,” Helm said in a BBC interview.
Epstein committed suicide in prison two years ago while awaiting his own trial for sex crimes.
The judge has not yet set a date for Maxwell’s sentencing, but the cumulative penalty for her crimes would likely amount to a life sentence.
Her attorney, Bobbi Sternheim, has already stated that they will appeal.
Virginia Giuffre, who alleges Epstein lent her out for sex with his wealthy and powerful associates, including Britain’s Prince Andrew welcomed the verdict in a statement on Twitter.
Praising Maxwell’s conviction, Giuffre said she “will remember this day always.”
“My heart goes out to the many other girls and young women who suffered,” she added. “I hope that today is not the end but rather another step in justice being served.”
The prince has repeatedly denied the allegations by Giuffre, who is sueing him in the United States, saying he does not remember meeting her and “absolutely and categorically did not have sex with her.”