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Ghislaine Maxwell appeal over 2021 sex trafficking conviction to begin in New York

Disgraced British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell’s appeal over her conviction for sex trafficking in 2021 is due to begin this week.

Maxwell, 62, was sentenced to 20 years behind bars last year, after being found guilty of five counts of trafficking and abusing young girls over decades with the late paedophileJeffrey Epstein

Her appeal, which is taking place at a federal court in New York, is set to begin on Tuesday. Lawyers have argued that if her conviction is not overturned then she should be given a new trial or re-sentenced.

It is expected that during the appeal, Maxwell will claim that the four victims who testified against her at trial had “faded, distorted and motivated memories”. Her lawyers will argue that she was prosecuted as a “proxy” for Epstein to satisfy public outrage after his death in custody while awaiting trial in 2019.

The Associated Press reported that she will also claim that prosecutors breached a non-prosecution agreement, charged her with “time-barred offenses”, and recast Epstein’s crimes to make her the culprit.

They further allege that prosecutors teamed up with victims who were suing Epstein and Maxwell “whose interests were financial, to develop new allegations.”

Maxwell was convicted of abusing young girls over decades with the late paedophile Jeffrey Epstein (VIA REUTERS)
Maxwell was convicted of abusing young girls over decades with the late paedophile Jeffrey Epstein (VIA REUTERS)

The appeal was triggered in part following an interview with one of the trial jurors, published in The Independent, that revealed that a juror had failed to disclose, when asked on a written questionnaire, if he had any experience of sexual abuse.

It was later revealed that two other jurors also failed to disclose similar information to the court, which may, in certain circumstances, have disqualified them from serving.

Maxwell was found guilty of the abuse and trafficking of four young girls after a jury trial in New York in December 2021. She has continued to protest her innocence since the conviction.

She has also refused to apologise to her victims and said they should blame US authorities for “allowing Epstein to die” in an interview broadcast on TalkTV in January 2023.

At her trial, prosecutors outlined how Maxwell operated as his enabler in luring vulnerable teenage girls with promises of scholarships, gifts and financial assistance for their families, and coerced them into becoming objects for his sexual gratification.

Maxwell has continued to protest her innocence since her conviction in 2021 (VIA REUTERS)
Maxwell has continued to protest her innocence since her conviction in 2021 (VIA REUTERS)

Victims described during the trial how Maxwell initially came across as a trusting, sisterly figure, who would then work in unison with Epstein to abuse and exploit them.

Ahead of the court appearance to appeal, Maxwell’s brother Ian Maxwell told The Independent: “The American justice system and the court were biased against my sister and she didn’t get a fair trial.

“Her jury was not impartial: three of them had been sexually abused but did not disclose this, depriving the defence of the opportunity to challenge their selection as jurors. How could they fairly and dispassionately consider evidence in a sex abuse case?”

The US government has urged the appeals court to uphold her conviction, with prosecutors saying: “The government’s evidence at trial established that over the course of a decade, Maxwell facilitated and participated in the sexual abuse of multiple young girls.”