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Ghislaine Maxwell Found Guilty Of 5 Charges In Sex Trafficking Trial

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Ghislaine Maxwell was found guilty of five of six sex trafficking charges Wednesday in New York City.

The jury found Maxwell guilty of three counts of conspiracy to entice individuals under the age of 17 to travel in interstate commerce with intent to engage in illegal sexual activity. She was also found guilty of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of individuals under the age of 18 and sex trafficking of an individual under the age of 18.

Maxwell was found not guilty of one count of enticement of an individual under the age of 17 to travel with intent to engage in illegal sexual activity.

As CBS2's Lisa Rozner reports, Maxwell did not cry as the verdict was read but was stoic.

Wednesday evening, Maxwell's defense attorney Bobbi Sternheim said, "We firmly believe in Ghislaine's innocence. Obviously, we are very disappointed with the verdict."

The jury began deliberations just after 5 p.m. Monday and asked for a readback of testimony Tuesday.

Throughout the trial, the 60-year-old appeared cheerful at times when interacting with her lawyers and family members. She actively passed notes with her attorneys and seemed emotional at one point.

Maxwell did not take the stand in her own defense, telling the judge, "The government has not proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt, so there is no reason for me to testify."

As CBS2's Cory James reports, during the two-week trial, four alleged victims testified, claiming Maxwell not only brought them to Epstein but, at times, participated in the alleged abuse.

One accuser emotionally said in her testimony that she was paid for giving Epstein sexual massages and being flown on private planes to one of his many homes.

Prosecutors argued Maxwell was Jeffrey Epstein's "right hand" and "the lady of the house," who recruited and groomed teenagers -- some as young as 14 and often from broken homes -- to give Epstein massages for money, which they allege turned into sexual abuse, sometimes with Maxwell joining in.

The abuse, they say, took place from 1994 to 2004 at a New York mansion, Florida estate, New Mexico ranch and in the U.S. Virgin Islands, with "age-appropriate" Maxwell present at times to help normalize Epstein's behavior.

The defense argued Maxwell is not Epstein and that investigators are seeking a scapegoat in his absence. They claimed the four women who testified about abuse had flawed memories, manipulated decades later by lawyers representing them as they sought millions of dollars in payouts from a special fund set up after Epstein's suicide to compensate victims.

"She's being tried here for being with Jeffrey Epstein. Maybe that's the biggest mistake of her life, but it's not a crime," her lawyers argued.

Prosecutors called the defense's claim that Maxwell did not know about the abuse that occurred a "laughable argument," saying the women "put themselves through the hell of testifying... They did it for justice."

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams released the following statement Wednesday in response to the verdict:

"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. 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."

An attorney for an abuse survivor referred to as "Jane" released the following statement:

"We are pleased that the jury has found Ms. Maxwell guilty of the heinous crimes she committed against our client, Jane, and the other brave women who had the courage to show up and testify at trial. The verdict screams loud and clear -- if you make it easier for another to sexually abuse children, you, too, will be held accountable for your role in that abuse. You will be arrested, and you will go to prison. The verdict also confirms what we've known all along: Jeffrey Epstein did not act alone. If it was not for Ms. Maxwell, Jeffrey Epstein would never have been able to abuse these girls."

In a statement, accuser Annie Farmer said she is "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."

Maxwell's family, meanwhile, says, "We believe firmly in our sister's innocence - we are very disappointed with the verdict. We have already started the appeal tonight and we believe that she will ultimately be vindicated."

Maxwell has been behind bars since her arrest in July 2020 and repeatedly denied bail. She faces up to 65 years in federal prison.

Her sentencing date has not been set.

There will be a separate trial for two counts of perjury.

CBS2's Cory James contributed to this report. Editor's note: This story was first published Dec. 29.

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