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Webb Canyon Chronicle

The Student News Site of The Webb Schools

Webb Canyon Chronicle

The Student News Site of The Webb Schools

Webb Canyon Chronicle

Ghislaine Maxwell is found guilty of sex trafficking minors

Drawing by Jane Rosenburg
Ghislaine Maxwell has her guilty verdict read out to her.

On December 29th, the jury of Manhattan Federal Court handed British socialite and ex-girlfriend of convicted sex offender Jeffery Epstein, Ghislaine Maxwell, a guilty verdict for her involvement in Epstein’s sexual abuse of young girls. At the beginning of her trial, she pled not guilty to all the charges, but in the end was found guilty of five federal charges: one count of sex trafficking of a minor, one count of transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, and three counts of conspiracy.

Maxwell was arrested by the federal government for her involvement with Epstein back in July of 2020. Jeffery Epstein was convicted of sexually abusing dozens of young girls from ages eleven to sixteen. Epstein had trafficked and assaulted girls in Florida, New York, France, and the Virgin Islands. Many of his victims alleged that Epstein had a large group of co-conspirators and was aided by Maxwell.

The accusers in Maxwell’s trial said that Maxwell groomed them by playing the role of an older sister, taking them shopping and to the movies to build trust. The girls were then recruited for Epstein, and Maxwell played a key role in normalizing the acts.

“I think it was right that she was convicted,” Maria Duan (‘23) said. “I also think her stance on the issue is really interesting, especially the arguments that her lawyers made. Their arguments rested on discrediting the other sides’ evidence, rather than building up their own argument.”

Maxwell’s defense lawyers tried to break down the victim’s testimonies, by attacking the victim’s memories of their abuse and claiming that they only wanted to gain money from the trial. They also spent much of their time trying to distance Maxwell from Epstein.

Despite the defense’s effort, Maxwell was found guilty of five out of six counts and will serve up to 65 years in jail. Her sentencing is set for June 28th, 2022.

However, Maxwell’s battle is not over. On January 6th, her defense attorneys called for a retrial after one of the jurors gave an interview to Reuters, where he stated that he had shared his experience of child sexual abuse during jury deliberations. Maxwells’ lawyers are calling for a new trial on the basis that said juror, Scotty David, did not answer his marital questions before trial honestly. David claims that he does not recall being asked about his sexual abuse during jury questioning.

“I think the re-judging is pretty fair on her part because there is a lot of unconscious bias in the US Courts, but I feel like they are just trying to find every little thing they can use as an excuse to get her another judgment,” Maria said. “So honestly, I don’t think it’s going to work out well for her.”

Much of the public hoped to see Maxwell name some of the other high-profile individuals that she and Epstein were involved with. The pair have been photographed with several celebrities and politicians, like Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, Harvey Weinstein, and Prince Andrew. Epstein also had a notorious “black book” that included names and contact information of people he associated with.

Late last week, Maxwell conceded to revealing the names of eight “John Does” who were named in a civil lawsuit against her and Epstein. Previously, she objected to their names being released, but one of her attorneys said they would no longer pursue the objections. This decision does not ensure that their identities will be released, however, as seven of the eight have already filed their own objections.

“I think if more survivors of their abuse become emboldened by these convictions, maybe they will bring their case against the other perpetrators of these crimes, but they certainly won’t [face trial] through any help from her,” said Jessica Fisher, humanities department faculty.

Although Ghislaine Maxwell and her lawyers continue to fight, her conviction is seen as a win for victims of child sexual abuse worldwide.

“I think this trial represents progress, albeit not as much progress as was possible if Epstein hadn’t died in prison…” Mrs. Fisher said. “It’s wonderful that [the juror] was able to convince people to believe women and it’s totally messed up that they didn’t before. That speaks to a much larger rape culture that persists.”

Rape culture is not only the disbelief of victims. It continues when people decide to ignore things that are done and said in front of them. It continues when an entire community looks past what an individual does because it does not affect them directly. Maxwell’s lawyers continually attempt to distance her from Epstein’s crimes and make it seem as if she is only being charged for knowing him. But that is not the truth. Even if she never actually enabled or participated in the abuse as she claims, she knew what Epstein was doing, and never said anything.

Most sexual assault perpetrators are people that the victims know personally and confronting someone who may be trusted in the community is hard. At Webb, the sexual health program places an emphasis on mindfulness. Acknowledging that something or someone in the community is not safe, and then being able to speak out about it, are abilities that all students need to have.

“Part of the hallmark of [Webb’s] community conversation is that what happens in our community, what happens in our presence, is our responsibility too. And I absolutely think that’s a challenging piece of our honor code,” said Melanie Bauman, Director of Counseling & Health Education.

Ghislaine is still trying to argue her case, but her conviction makes the strong point of holding perpetrators and their enablers accountable for what they do.

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About the Contributor
Wura Ogunnaike
Wura Ogunnaike, Editor of Culture & Lifestyle & Social Media Manager
After spending her summer in a lab for a science research program, Wura Ogunnaike (23’) is ready to return to the Webb Canyon Chronicle as a Social Media Manager and the Editor of Culture & Lifestyle. Reflecting her earlier efforts, Wura enjoys writing for the publication because of the freedom and wide range of topics she can cover in the process. This year, aside from having fun with writing, Wura is also taking on the responsibility of a Social Media Manager by utilizing social media outreach to attract more readership and enhance the reputation of the Webb Canyon Chronicle. Outside of the newsroom, Wura is a Jameson dorm prefect, where she always demonstrates the perfect balance between enacting leadership when necessary and showing kindness to her fellow dorm residents. In her free time, Wura likes to read, hike, and listen to Taylor Swift songs. However, her favorite song is “This is What Makes Us Girls” by Lana Del Rey. In addition to developing new interests, her goal for herself is to branch out in multimedia and work on social media-related publications. Some examples include podcasts or a photo gallery, which she has already exposed herself to during her first year of journalism.  Favorite Song: "This Is What Makes Us Girls" by Lana Del Rey

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