Why Ghislaine Maxwell’s Conviction Is Making Some People Very Nervous
There's only one card left to play. From Above the Law:
Ghislaine Maxwell’s conviction on five out of six criminal counts of sex trafficking now brings her case to a new phase – the hardcore reality of punishment and what she can do to mitigate it.
Although media analysts reported that the prosecution’s case imploded during trial after they called fewer witnesses than expected and rested quicker than foreseen, the jury clearly didn’t agree. Reflected by their notes to the court during jury deliberations requesting transcripts of both defense and prosecution witnesses, and clarification of the charges, each count was carefully considered and decided. Ultimately, they found Ms. Maxwell played an active part in Jeffrey’s Epstein’s recruitment of young women for sex.
To its credit, Maxwell’s defense team did a back-breaking job. They found solid witnesses, experts to talk about the fallibility of memory, and an administrative assistant to Maxwell who said she’d never seen anything that corroborated what the complainants said. They played up the complainants’ motives to exaggerate for money from a victim’s compensation fund and to attract media attention. Maxwell, they argued, was the government’s scapegoat for Jeffrey Epstein, the real criminal, who could no longer face charges himself.
But defending Maxwell was an uphill battle. Looking at the evidence globally, the jury likely concluded there was no way anyone with that much connection to Epstein wouldn’t or shouldn’t have known what was up and that, therefore, Maxwell played a purposeful role in facilitating it.
Making lemons out of lemonade is a defense attorney’s job, and with the jury out a fifth day, there must have been hope that acquittal was possible. It’s easy to drink the Kool-Aid and believe you’ve got a chance when deliberations persist. I feel for them. So much talent, so much energy. The slow losses, the ones that take days and days, are the hardest to accept.
When the verdict was read, Maxwell, ever the cultured, poised stoic, responded minimally. According to the New York Times, she poured water from a plastic bottle, took a sip, then leaned over to one of her lawyers, who patted her back.
But now the interesting part begins. And it likely has some people quaking in their shoes.
Maxwell will be sentenced, and there’s nothing more thorough than the job federal probation officers do in writing a pre-sentence report. They might visit her home, speak to all the contacts she mentions, verify her education and work history. They’ll explore whether she’s had mental health problems or substance abuse in her past.
The defense team will write an equally exhaustive pre-sentence letter accepting the guilty verdict as a fact, but putting it in the context of her life – what brought Maxwell to the point where she became Mr. Epstein’s apparent accomplice in providing young women for his (and potentially others’) sexual pleasure?
But prepping for sentence won’t be the only work being done over the next few weeks.
Federal prosecutions thrive on cooperators – detailed accounts from the accused that point the finger at others. Like a pebble tossed in a pond, the ripples from a cooperator’s information go far and wide, and Ghislaine Maxwell likely has lots of damning information which she now has every reason to share. It’s her get-out-of-jail-free (or at least get a lesser sentence) card, and the only one she has to play.
If media accounts are right about the passenger manifests from Epstein’s private plane, derisively called the “Lolita Express,” the list of people she could talk about include Bill Clinton, Bill Gates, violinist Iztack Perlman, Prince Andrew, many U.S. senators, and Donald Trump.
Aiding in an ongoing investigation brings a lot of favors from the government in the form of a 5K letter. No longer would minimum mandatory sentences apply and providing “substantial assistance” (the standard used) could bring her a much lower sentence, or possibly no time at all (though that is doubtful).