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Ghislaine Maxwell Faces What Jeffrey Epstein Never Did: Trial

Updated on November 15, 7:00 AM EST

What You Need To Know

After spending 16 months in jail, Ghislaine Maxwell is set to go to trial on Nov. 29, with the jury selection process beginning Nov. 15. The trial is expected to last six weeks.

Maxwell is a 59-year-old British socialite and the former girlfriend of disgraced financier and convicted sex-offender Jeffrey Epstein. She is charged with six felonies tied to sex trafficking, conspiracy and enticing minors, as well as two felony perjury charges that will be tried separately at a later date. Prosecutors have said at least four women will testify against Maxwell, describing how she played a key role in helping Epstein sexually abuse them. All four say they were minors — some as young as 14 years old — when they suffered the abuse.

If convicted of the most serious charges, Maxwell could face as long as 40 years in prison. She has pleaded not guilty to all charges. “I have not committed any crimes,” she said at a Nov. 1 hearing.

Epstein was arrested on July 6, 2019, over charges of sexually abusing dozens of underage girls, and faced up to 45 years in prison if found guilty. On August 10, 2019, he was found dead in his Manhattan jail cell, depriving his accusers of the chance for justice, they say.

By The Numbers

  • 4 The number of women prosecutors intend to call to testify against Maxwell, though others may be called.
  • 16 months That's how long Maxwell has spent behind bars as she awaits trial. She was denied bail on the grounds she could be a flight risk.
  • 40 years That's Maxwell's potential prison term if she is convicted of the most serious charges.

Why It Matters

The trial may be the best opportunity for victims of Epstein to see justice served. They believe that for many years Epstein evaded paying the full price for his crimes by leveraging his incredible wealth, Wall Street connections and political ties.

In 2008, Epstein struck a deal with Florida prosecutors and served just a 13-month sentence for soliciting a minor for prostitution, during which he was allowed to work in an office for 12 hours a day. The much-criticized non-prosecution deal Epstein reached with the U.S. shielded his co-conspirators, scuttled a drafted 60-count federal indictment and was made without notifying victims.

After FBI agents arrested Epstein in July 2019, his death a month later while in federal custody was later ruled a suicide. In a court appearance shortly after Epstein’s death, more than a dozen alleged victims shared their stories, having lost their only chance to confront him in a court of law.

Annie Farmer, who has publicly identified herself as a victim testifying at Maxwell’s trial, claims she was abused as a teenager during a visit to Epstein's New Mexico ranch in 1996. While there, Maxwell allegedly gave Farmer an unsolicited massage while she was topless and also encouraged her to massage Epstein.

Maxwell’s trial also takes place in the wake of the larger #MeToo movement, which emerged after widespread sexual-abuse allegations against Harvey Weinstein surfaced in October 2017. The movement empowered thousands of women to publicly speak about their experiences with sexual abuse and harassment. Weinstein was convicted of sexual assault and rape in 2020 and is currently serving a 23-year sentence.