Ghislaine Maxwell trial verdict live updates
The jury in Ghislaine Maxwell’s sex trafficking trial concluded its fifth day of deliberations on Tuesday as the socialite continues a long wait to hear whether she will face up to 70 years in prison.
Jurors are considering six charges against Ms Maxwell, who is accused of recruiting and grooming teenage girls for convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein to abuse.
She has pleaded not guilty to all charges and said she is being made a scapegoat for Epstein’s acts after he died in 2019 while awaiting his own trial.
Judge Alison Nathan extended deliberations to 6pm on Tuesday, citing an “astronomical spike” in cases of the Omicron coronavirus variant.
“It’s time to have the jurors make plans to continue deliberating until a verdict is reached,” she said, noting that the Omicron surge could force jurors into quarantine and jeopardise the “ability to complete this trial”.
However as 5pm approached, the jury submitted a note seeking approval to end at the regular time and resume at 9am Wednesday. “Our deliberations are moving along, and we are making progress,” the note stated.
Judge Nathan approved the request and raised the possibility of deliberation continuing over the weekend, if necessary.
Twelve of the most striking images from the Ghislaine Maxwell trial
From foot massages to exotic trips and spending time in palatial properties, the Ghislaine Maxwell trial has given a sneak peak into the romantic relationship the British socialite and Jeffrey Epstein shared.
This was done by the prosecution to show the intimacy between the two, against whom there have been several charges of sex abuse and trafficking of vulnerable teenager girls.
Ms Maxwell has been accused of getting several girls to have sex with the disgraced financier, who had died by suicide.
One of the images released by prosecutors showed Ms Maxwell giving Epstein massages aboard a private jet. The prosecutors said this helped them establish a narrative that accusers were allegedly told to give Epstein sexualised massages as a way to groom them for even more serious sexual abuse.
Some of the accusers later gave accounts of how Ms Maxwell prepared them before they were sent into a room with Epstein.
Photos from Epstein’s Manhattan apartment were also presented to the court. The investigators said they found dozens of CDs and hard drives containing images and documents which have been produced in Ms Maxwell’s trial.
Another photograph showed Epstein and Ms Maxwell lounging on a park bench at Balmoral, which served as a powerful reminder of their once-close friendship with Prince Andrew.
You can read the full story by Bevan Hurley here
Ghislaine Maxwell trial: All you need to know about jury deliberations so far
The jury that will arrive at a verdict on the sex abuse trial involving British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell has completed its fifth day of deliberations.
The decision on six federal charges against the British socialite is awaited and expected soon amid rising Covid cases driven by Omicron variant, as flagged by Judge Alison J Nathan in court on Tuesday.
After more than 30 hours of deliberation, jurors have submitted eight notable questions to the court which together paint a portrait of where the discussions stand.
Megan Sheets has the full report with all details on the hearing here
Why the Covid factor is playing a role in Ghislaine Maxwell’s trial
Proceedings in the Ghislaine Maxwell trial over sex abuse allegations have been impacted by the Omicron variant as Judge Alison J Nathan stated that the “astronomical spike” in the number of Covid cases would require jurors to work for longer hours this week.
“We now face a high and escalating risk that jurors and trial participants may need to quarantine,” she said on Tuesday.
“We are simply in a different place regarding the pandemic than we were a week ago.”
Behind this request to ask jurors to work overtime, the judge highlighted a crucial factor in the trial. Sickened jurors could lead to a mistrial and the threat was not a distant factor anymore.
Judge Nathan said: “We now face a high and escalating risk that jurors and trial participants may need to quarantine.”
“We are simply in a different place regarding the pandemic than we were a week ago.”
New York has been witnessing a sharp surge in Covid cases that have shot up to 22,000 cases per day last week from an average 3,400 per day in a week in mid-December.
RECAP: Trial centres around duelling portraits of Maxwell
In closing arguments on 20 December, both sides painted diametrically-opposed portraits of Ms Maxwell and her relationship with Epstein.
The prosecution described her as a “sophisticated” predator and said she and Epstein “were partners in crime who exploited young girls together”.
The defence sought to distance Ms Maxwell from Epstein, saying: “These were things that Epstein did … but Ghislaine Maxwell is not Epstein.”
The Independent’s Gustaf Kilander recaps the final words from each party:
British socialite ‘caused deep and lasting harm to young girls. It is time to hold her accountable,’ prosecutor says
Work towards verdict in Ghislaine Maxwell the rest of the week, if needed: Judge
The verdict in sex abuse and trafficking trial of British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell is expected sooner, indicated Judge Alison J. Nathan on Tuesday before wrapping up the proceedings for the day.
While approving the jurors request to leave early at 5 pm, the judge said they were expected to work toward a verdict the rest of the week, if needed, plugging the reminder of rising Covid-19 cases in the city.
Addressing the lawyers, Judge Nathan had said she was considering asking the jurors about deliberations everyday, including the coming weekend of New Year’s if needed, in order to reach a verdict. However, after defense lawyers said it was not possible.
This is the first week of deliberations in the case, coming after two weeks of testimonies from victims of sex abuse who alleged Ms Maxwell and Epstein exploited them for sex in 1990s. If convicted, Ms Maxwell stares up to 40 years of imprisonment against the six charges against her.
Who is Ghislaine Maxwell?
Ghislaine Maxwell, daughter of British newspaper baron Robert Maxwell and his French wife Elisabeth, was born in affluent Maisons-Laffitte in northern France on Christmas Day 1961, the youngest of nine children.
Just two days later, her teenage brother Michael was involved in a car accident that would keep him in a prolonged coma until his death in 1967, a tragedy that marked the family.
The Independent’s Joe Sommerlad explains other important milestones in Ms Maxwell’s life that brought her to this year’s trial:
Ghislaine Maxwell: The life of the Jeffrey Epstein associate accused of sex trafficking
What happened on Epstein’s island?
The guests came from across the world, and from the highest ranks of society: celebrities and scientists and members of royal families, touching down in a private jet and then boarding a helicopter to the island. Its owner liked to call it “Little St Jeff”; locals called it “paedophile island”.
But what is the truth about Little St James, the 75-acre private paradise in the US Virgin Islands that billionaire sex abuser Jeffrey Epstein once called home?
The island is now at the centre of a web of lawsuits and criminal investigations seeking to untangle the life of Epstein, who died in prison in 2019 at the age of 66 in what authorities claimed was a suicide.
The Independent’s Io Dodds explains what we know about the island:
Jeffrey Epstein island Ghislaine Maxwell
RECAP: What the four accusers said at Maxwell’s trial
Almost 30 years after some of the alleged abuse took place, accusers of convicted paedophile Epstein and his alleged madam Ms Maxwell have finally had their day in court.
Four women – three of them testifying under pseudonyms – took the stand during Ms Maxwell’s sex-trafficking trial to testify that Epstein’s former girlfriend preyed on vulnerable underage girls and groomed them for abuse by the late financier.
The women testified that Ms Maxwell, 59, both enabled Epstein in his abuse and took part in some of the abuse herself.
The Independent’s Rachel Sharp explains testimony from each accuser:
Four witnesses took the stand for the prosecution to testify about the alleged abuse they suffered at the hands of Ghislaine Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein. Here’s what they said, Rachel Sharp writes
What’s happened in deliberations?
The jury in Ms Maxwell’s sex trafficking trial concluded its fifth day of deliberations on Tuesday to decide the socialite’s guilt on six federal charges.
Ms Maxwell faces up to 70 years in prison if convicted on all six charges and ordered to serve their sentences consecutively. The top charge of “sex trafficking of minors” carries a maximum sentence of 40 years.
The case landed in the hands of the jury late on 20 December. Jurors deliberated for the next two days before taking a four-day break for the holiday weekend and resuming on Monday.
Over more than 30 hours of deliberation, jurors have submitted eight notable questions to the court which together paint a portrait of where the discussions stand. The Independent’s Megan Sheets explains:
Over roughly 24 hours of deliberation, jurors have submitted eight notable questions to the court which together paint a portrait of where the discussions stand
Jurors say they are ‘making progress’
With just over one hour until the end of today’s deliberations, the jury has just submitted its first note of the day.
In it they asked to finish at 5pm – instead of 6pm as previously outlined by Judge Nathan – and resume tomorrow morning at 9am.
“Our deliberations are moving along, and we are making progress,” the note read.
Neither the defence nor the prosecution objected to the request, which was granted.
Earlier today Judge Nathan indicated that deliberation hours would be extended again tomorrow due to the “astronomical” and “escalating” risk of the Omicron coronavirus variant.