The jury is in, and Ghislaine Maxwell was found guilty of five counts relating to Jeffrey Epstein's child abuse operation. The charges include conspiracy to entice individuals under 17 to cross state lines for illegal sexual activity and sex trafficking of a minor; the latter is punishable by up to 40 years. She was found innocent of one count, enticing an individual under 17 (the pseudonymous witness "Jane") to travel with intent to engage in illegal sexual activity.
The jury began deliberations on December 20. During the trial, Ghislaine Maxwell declined to testify in her own defense.
Four women testified throughout the trial that they were sexually abused by Jeffrey Epstein and that Maxwell both facilitated the abuse and was an occasional participant.
For some perspective on the case and what might happen next in the Jeffrey Epstein/Ghislaine Maxwell Saga, I spoke with independent researcher and podcaster Pearse Redmond.
FAILED STATE UPDATE: No big surprises here. Or were there?
PEARSE REDMOND: I may have been a little dismissive the time we last spoke. You know, I was saying, "Oh, the jury's already made up their mind." It does seem that the jury was doing exactly what they were there to do. It took them a lot longer than most of us thought it would to deliberate — they weren’t just going through the motions.
Ultimately, they did find at least one victim — "Jane" — to not be credible enough for them to convict on the one count. So that was surprising. At the end of the day, I'm not surprised that they found Maxwell guilty on all the other charges, including the big one, sex trafficking of a minor. That's 40 years. Ghislaine just turned 60 on Christmas Day. It was not a super-great Christmas for Ghislaine Maxwell. And it's definitely not going to be a happy New Year.
What did you think of the job the defense did?
It was so weird because before the defense presented their case, they were making all sorts of crazy requests.
They wanted a whole bunch of their witnesses to give testimony anonymously, which is sort of laughable coming from them. Which also raises all these questions — why don't they want to testify publicly? But a lot of that was struck down. Originally, they were talking about bringing in dozens of witnesses for the defense. People were like, “maybe this is gonna go on past Christmas.” And it seemed like they were going to have this fairly robust defense. But at the end of the day, the defense was as short, if not maybe even shorter, than the prosecution's whole case. They had a couple of witnesses. Most of them were kind of duds. They had a couple of employees that worked for Epstein.
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There was also Elizabeth Loftus, the expert who testified for the defense on the malleability of memory. I know in our neck of the woods, everybody is skeptical when you say that people can develop these false memories. But it seems like Maxwell’s team really thought that they’d be able to poke holes in these women’s stories. But the memory thing was just kind of a swing and a miss.
I think they were hoping that was gonna go over better than it did. But yeah, I would definitely say that was a swing and a miss.
I also think that the lackluster selection of defense witnesses speaks to the fact that, you know, does anybody want to stick their neck out for Ghislaine Maxwell at this point?
That's another problem they had. They must have had other witnesses that they could have brought up. And maybe they were willing to come up, because they thought that they were going to be able to testify anonymously. When that was no longer the case, they all got cold feet, which would make sense.
How would that benefit anyone? You testify on behalf of Ghislaine Maxwell, when she's probably going to jail anyways, and you’re marked for the rest of your life.
If I'm being totally honest, I think those people have already been paid off enough by Epstein and Maxwell. You know, they fulfilled their part of the contract.
What possible avenues are there going forward for other victims to find justice, or for the rest of us, just to get to the bottom of the Epstein story?
There are definitely other people that could be charged. The main people that come to mind are obviously Sarah Kellen, who was mentioned periodically in this trial by name, as well as Nadia Marcinkova. Lesley Groff is another high-ranking employee within Epstein's sex trafficking enterprise. At the very least, those people should be charged with conspiracy to traffic, or enticing minors to travel over state lines for sex.
Marcinkova may have been a victim of Epstein's who sort of moved up within this network of abusers. And we don't know for sure what or how Sarah Kellen fell into this, but the impression that many of us have is that she was Ghislaine's number two. She worked directly for Epstein and Maxwell. She was very high-ranking within this structure.
Unless there are other employees of Epstein or Maxwell who are willing to go on the record — or even off the record — and talk to journalists, I don't think we're really going to find out much more information. We can go over court records a million times. We can comb through interesting old articles. But without people coming forward and filling in some of these blanks, I don't think there's much more we can do.