Ghislaine Maxwell: who is Jeffrey Epstein’s partner and friend of Prince Andrew, guilty in sex-trafficking trial?
Maxwell, the daughter of late media mogul Robert Maxwell, was found guilty of sex trafficking and is set to be sentenced for up to 65 years for her crimes
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Lawyers for British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell have requested a retrial after her conviction for sex trafficking and abuse.
Maxwell, 60, has been on trial for her crimes since late November, over a year after she was found hiding from authorities in a $1m (£800,000) four-bedroom rural mansion in Bradford, New Hampshire.
She was was labelled “dangerous” by the prosecution during her three-week trial in New York, and found guilty of enticing vulnerable teenagers to financier Jeffrey Epstein’s various properties for him to sexually abuse between 1994 and 2004.
The socialite has always denied being Epstein’s right-hand-woman, claiming she was unaware he was raping and sexually assaulting girls as young as 14, despite living with him and often recruiting the girls from nearby schools.
Maxwell’s lawyer Bobbi C Sternheim has now made an official request for retrial in a letter to Judge Alison Nathan which states: “Today, counsel for Ghislaine Maxwell filed her motion for a new trial.”
The request comes after a juror in the case told media that he spoke to the other jurors of his experience of being sexually abused.
In the letter, the lawyer adds: “We request that all submissions pertaining to juror no. 50 remain under seal until the court rules on the motion.”
But who is the socialite and what has she been convicted of? This is what you need to know.
Who is Ghislaine Maxwell?
Born on Christmas Day 1961, Maxwell was the youngest of 10 children born to Czech media tycoon Robert Maxwell and his wife Betty.
The family lived in Headington Hill Hall, a stunning mansion in the Oxfordshire countryside, where her father often hosted parties for ministers, celebrities and business people at their home.
Ghislaine has been described by those who knew her father as his favourite. He died under suspicious circumstances while holidaying on his boat, Lady Ghislaine.
Her mother described Ghislaine in her 1994 memoir as "spoiled, the only one of my children I can truly say that about".
Robert Maxwell was the owner of The Daily Mirror and the Mirror group, one of the most successful newspaper companies in the country. His only real competition was Rupert Murdoch and his empire.
He had been brought up in extreme poverty in Czechoslovakia, but managed to flee the country when it was under Nazi-occupation. He joined the UK army and served as a Labour MP, before becoming one of the most influential men in the press.
Her father’s intimidating and ostentatious attitude is thought to have had a profound effect on young Ghislaine.
According to Roy Greenslade, Editor of the Daily Mirror in the 1980s, “she was quite clever at dealing with [Robert]," he said she always spoke politely and softly to him, subduing him and making it difficult for him to use the same aggression with her.
Greenslade added that Maxwell once told him, with a sense of pride in his voice: "She’s like me."
It would have come as a huge blow to her then when her father went missing in the water off the Canary Islands in 1991, only to be found dead in the water hours later.
An inquest found he had suffered a heart attack and drowned, but many have speculated that he took his own life after committing massive pension fraud, around £440 million, against his employees.
In the hours following his death, Mirror Group editorial director Charles Wilson said it was unlikely Maxwell took his own life, as "he had too much of the arrogance of his own ability to conceive of such a thing."
Greenslade said in his biography of Robert Maxwell, that a then 29-year-old Ghislaine was largely applauded for the way she conducted herself and her family’s affairs in the days immediately following his death.
"People who were there at the time (when Maxwell died), said she dealt with it brilliantly," Greenslade said. "Dry-eyed, dealing well with the press."
In November 1992, Maxwell moved to the United States where she continued her life as a socialite, moving in wealthy circles despite being “probably left with no money,” according to Greenslade.
She was photographed with the likes of Donald Trump, the Clintons and even Pope John Paul II during the years which followed.
It was also some time in the 1990s that she would go on to meet her partner and coterie, billionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein.
What was her relationship to Jeffrey Epstein?
Maxwell and Epstein had both a private, intimate relationship and professional relationship.
The pair began dating in or around 1994, when Maxwell was struggling to financially support herself, and the intimate relationship ended in around 1997.
Despite no longer being his girlfriend, Maxwell continued to be his close confidant and was paid by Epstein to manage his properties and the staff who worked at them.
Epstein, a convicted paedophile who died by suicide following his arrest in 2019, owned homes in New York, New Mexico, Florida’s Palm Beach and a 75-acre private island in the Virgin Islands.
It has now been confirmed that, during the years of 1994 and 2004, Ghislaine groomed young girls by recruiting them at schools, summer camps and offering them work as a masseuse.
Girls as young as 14 were then sexually abused by Epstein, and oftentimes Ghislaine also took part.
In a 2003 interview with Vanity Fair, Epstein described Maxwell as his “best friend”.
She is believed to have introduced Epstein to her circle of wealthy friends and influential business people.
Her name cropped up time and time again in documents which led to his convictions and several victims told of her involvement an alleged sex-trafficking scheme by which they were flown around his various estates and forced into sexual encounters with a string of wealthy men.
When Epstein was arrested in 2019, Ghislaine suddenly fell off the radar and US authorities spent months hunting for her before finding her in a multi-million dollar hideout in New Hampshire.
How is she linked to Prince Andrew?
Ghislaine’s link to Prince Andrew is not clear, but what is known is they enjoyed a close friendship and she introduced him to Epstein.
The Duke of York flew on Epstein’s private plane, the Lolita Express, to spend time at his Virgin Islands estate and has been pictured on several occasions inside Epstein’s properties and in his company in New York.
The Duke of York tried to distance himself from Maxwell during his 2019 Newsnight interview with BBC’s Emily Maitlis, saying: “If there are questions that Ghislaine has to answer, that’s her problem I’m afraid, I’m not in a position to be able to comment one way or the other.”
Despite this, he admitted he hosted Maxwell and Epstein at Sandringham for a shooting weekend and at Windsor in 2000.
Andrew invited them again - following Epstein’s charges for sex with a minor - to Sandringham in 2006 for Princess Beatrice’s 18th Birthday.
The link which places Andrew at the centre of this case is a picture of him with his hand around the waist of his accuser, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, at Maxwell’s London apartment in 2001. Maxwell can be seen to the right of the pair.
It has been alleged by Giuffre that Prince Andrew raped her that evening, after dancing with her at Tramp nightclub.
Giuffre alleges she went on to have sex with Andrew three times, including a month after the photo was taken, when he visited Epstein in New York.
As a result of befriending Maxwell, Andrew says it was inevitable that he would be in the same social circle as Epstien.
The two men met each other again in 2010, long after Epstein had been convicted for sex with minors.
Andrew continues to deny all allegations made by Giuffre, as well as claiming to have no knowledge of Epstein and Maxwell’s grooming and sex trafficking.
What has she been convicted of?
Ghislaine Maxwell was found guilty of five of six charges, on December 29.
Maxwell’s charges include sex trafficking of a minor, transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity and three related counts of conspiracy. She was acquitted on the charge of enticing a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts.
The victims were aged between 14 and 17 at the time of their abuse, which is alleged to have taken place across a decade beginning in 1994.
The prosecution said Maxwell "preyed on vulnerable young girls, manipulated them, and served them up to be sexually abused".
Former employees of Epstein described her as the house manager at his Palm Beach mansion, who supervised staff, looked after finances and acted as a social co-ordinator.
She is alleged to have given staff a 58-page instruction manual and ordered them to speak only when spoken to, avoiding eye contact with Epstein.
Housekeeper Juan Alessi testified that staff were told not to engage with guests, to “see nothing, hear nothing, say nothing.”
The prosecution portrayed their closeness as a crucial factor in their pattern of abuse - with Ghislaine Maxwell seeking out and grooming victims for Epstein.
"Ghislaine controlled the girls," Sarah Ransome, who says she was abused by Epstein, told the BBC’s Panorama programme. "She would be the one getting all the girls in check. She knew what Jeffrey liked… this was very much a joint effort."
Ghislaine had pleaded guilty to all charges, which cumulatively carry a sentence of up to 65 years behind bars.
The conspiracy charges carry five years each, while the major charge of sex trafficking carries up to 40 years. For the transporting charge, the maximum is ten years.
When will Ghislaine Maxwell be sentenced?
A date has not yet been set for her sentencing.
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