Judge denies Ghislaine Maxwell’s bid to overturn sex trafficking conviction

The judge in Ghislaine Maxwell’s sex-trafficking case has upheld her conviction, according to a ruling issued Friday. In rejecting Maxwell’s request for acquittal, Judge Alison Nathan said the guilty verdict was “readily supported by the extensive witness testimony and documentary evidence admitted at trial”.

“Further, those counts of conviction matched the core of criminality charged in the Indictment, presented by the Government at trial, and on which the jury was accurately instructed,” Nathan said.

The British socialite was convicted on 29 December of five counts for bringing girls, some as young as 14, to financier Jeffrey Epstein, for him to sexually abuse. Maxwell was found guilty on one count of sex-trafficking, one count of transportation of an individual under the age of 17 with intent to engage in illegal sexual activity, and three conspiracy counts.

When Maxwell is sentenced on 28 June, Nathan will impose punishment for three of those five counts, according to her ruling. They include sex-trafficking, transportation, and one of the three conspiracy counts.

Nathan agreed that the three conspiracy counts were “multiplicitous”, meaning that “they all charge the same offense”. Under the US constitution’s “double jeopardy” clause, Nathan is prohibited “from imposing multiple punishments for the same offense”.

“The overarching conspiracy – which, as the Government argued and proved at trial, employed a single ‘playbook’ to groom and sexually abuse underage girls – constitutes a single conspiracy offense with multiple victims,” Nathan said.

“This legal conclusion in no way calls into question the factual findings made by the jury,” Nathan said, in explaining her decision. “Rather, it underscores that the jury unanimously found – three times over – that the Defendant is guilty of conspiring with Epstein to entice, transport, and traffic underage girls for sexual abuse.”

Because Nathan will sentence Maxwell on fewer counts, she now faces up to 50 years in federal prison. She had previously faced a maximum 65-year sentence.

Epstein, a convicted sex offender who once counted Prince Andrew among his rich and famous associates, was arrested in July 2019 on sex trafficking charges. Epstein killed himself about one month later in a New York City federal jail.

Maxwell has maintained her innocence. Her lawyers did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Nathan’s decision on Friday comes about one month after she denied Maxwell’s request for a new trial. Maxwell’s team had repeatedly requested a new trial after reports revealed that a juror in her case failed to disclose childhood sexual abuse during jury selection.

Comments are closed.