A US appeals court has overturned Ghislaine Maxwell’s conviction for aiding Jeffrey Epstein in sexually abusing teenage girls, alleging the trial was tainted by a number of errors.
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Who Is Ghislaine Maxwell?
The former British socialite Ghislaine Noelle Marion Maxwell was born in 1961 to a Czech-born newspaper tycoon and a former British lawmaker. Apparently, Maxwell was her father’s favorite daughter, and they had a close relationship.
Ghislaine Maxwell, formerly of the Kit-Cat Club, became an influential member of the London social scene during the 1980s.
As the Times reports, she was notoriously linked to Jeffrey Epstein, a convicted sex offender and American financier who she met at a New York party in the early 1990s.
During her trial, Gislaine Maxwell was found guilty of five of the six charges she faced: sex trafficking of minors, enticing minors to travel with the intent to commit criminal sexual activity, transporting minors with the intent to commit criminal sexual activities, and three counts of conspiracy.
In one account, Maxwell was found not guilty of deceiving a 17-year-old into traveling with the intention of engaging in illegal sexual activity.
Four women testified that Maxwell facilitated the sexual abuse, which led to the charges.
A 20-year prison sentence was imposed on Maxwell.
A British socialite has been treated with unprecedented “vilification” by the government due to its prosecution of her as a proxy for Jeffrey Epstein, Maxwell’s lawyers said in a filing to the 2nd U.S Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan.
According to an application filed on Tuesday night with the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan, Maxwell argues that a new trial or a new sentence is warranted if her conviction and the underlying indictment remain intact.
The defense argued a variety of reasons for dismissing the case or granting a new trial, including that Maxwell should be immune from prosecution, that prosecutors waited too long to bring charges against her, and that one juror had been biased.
During the period from 1994 to 2004, Epstein recruited and groomed four girls for abuse by Maxwell, 61, who currently serves 20 years in prison.
In August 2019, one month after being charged with sex trafficking, the 66-year-old, Epstein committed suicide in a Manhattan jail cell at the age of 66.
During her trial, Maxwell’s team claimed that prosecutors gave her a legal reckoning that Epstein, a registered offender, never had.
Accusers testified at Maxwell’s trial that Maxwell welcomed them into Epstein’s orbit before subjecting them to sexualized messages from the doctor.
Aside from Maxwell’s appeal, other factors were also highlighted that allegedly contributed to her unfair trial.
Lawyers representing maxwell’s accusers were accused of “joining forces” with prosecutors to “develop new allegations” against him.
Her lawyers claim that Ghislaine Maxwell’s “deplorable” jail conditions – including exposure to raw sewage and sleep deprivation – left her disoriented and diminished, such that she couldn’t play a meaningful role in her defense.
It is clear from Ghislaine Maxwell’s testimony that many of the arguments she made before, during, and after the trial were unsuccessful. In addition, Epstein has claimed to have immunized her through a non-prosecution agreement signed with federal prosecutors in Southern Florida in 2007, arising from alleged abuses at his Plam Beach mansion.
It is now widely considered that Epstein’s punishment for pleading guilty to Florida’s prostitution charge and serving 13 months in prison was too lenient.
Before the appeals court hears oral arguments, the prosecution is expected to respond to Ghislaine Maxwell’s filing.
Maxwell is currently serving a sentence of 2 years in prison in Tallahassee, Florida. She will be eligible for release in July 2037 as a result of good behavior and having spent two years in prison.