Will Ghislaine Maxwell’s guilt end her silence?
As fallen socialite Ghislaine Maxwell awaits sentencing for sex trafficking for paedophile Jeffrey Epstein, the world waits to see if her conviction will persuade her to finally admit what went on – and who else was involved.
The extraordinary life of Ghislaine Maxwell has entered its final chapter; what remains of it will be spent in an American prison following her conviction on a string of sex trafficking charges and a breathtaking fall from the dizzying heights of power, money, and the glitz of high society.
A New York jury concluded that the 60-year-old former British socialite was a willing and complicit partner in identifying, targeting, and coaching teenagers for sex with her long-term lover, the now-dead paedophile Jeffrey Epstein. The court heard that in some instances, she fondled and participated in sex with those vulnerable teenagers herself.
Now awaiting sentencing, the crimes of which she has been found guilty could see her handed a jail term of nearly 70 years. And yet after the fast-moving 13-day trial, in which her defence team took only two days to present its case, there are still many questions left unanswered about the extraordinary life of Ghislaine Noelle Marion Maxwell.
Sure, we know all the biographical detail. Born in Paris on Christmas Day, 1961; the gilded lifestyle of her upbringing in Headington Hill Hall; the obvious psychological scars left upon her as one of nine children to the bullying, overbearing, and disgraced press baron Robert Maxwell; and the first cry for help at the tender age of just three years old when, feeling neglected, she appealed to her mother, Betty, with a plaintive “Mummy, I exist!”.
There was also the death of her oldest brother Michael after seven years in a coma; her anorexia; her studies at Oxford University; her appointment by her father as a director of Oxford United Football Club; and then a series of soft jobs in his string of businesses, looking after corporate gifts and acting as company cheerleader. Nothing too tough. Bob Maxwell spoiled his daughter and, in doing so, damaged her for life.
She would do anything to win the approval of her doting but wildly volatile father, and when he fell from his yacht, drowning in the waters of the Canary Islands in 1991, her world imploded. She could never believe the truth of her father’s corrupt empire, built on £429 million he had plundered from his company’s pension funds.
But then there was Epstein to the rescue – a man who, the court heard, had been in her father’s orbit for longer than she had previously admitted, and who had amassed his own fortune while simultaneously indulging his deviant sexual tastes in young girls.
Just as she had done for her father, Maxwell was prepared to do anything to please the new man in her life. And if that meant grooming and trafficking teenage girls for him and his buddies to have sex with, then so be it. She flourished in this twisted partnership. The court heard how she took control of and micro-managed Epstein’s sprawling property portfolio, giving lists of detailed instructions to staff about what she expected from them.
One of those demands contained in the 58-page handbook she handed out to employees was “see nothing, hear nothing, say nothing.” It was a credo she lived by, for if the truth about the lifestyle she and Epstein enjoyed was ever to emerge… well, it would spell prison for sure.
Not only did she find the father figure she needed in Epstein, but he also made her wealthy beyond belief, gifting her properties worth millions and, as the court was told, paying her more than $30 million from 1999 to 2007 for doing just as he asked. And keeping her mouth shut.
While her bank balance might have bloomed, this deal with the devil was to be her downfall. Nothing could make Maxwell blow the lid on the years she spent as one half of a perverted jet-setting power couple. No explanations about why young girls were ferried around the globe by private jet for ‘massage appointments’, no detail about the names in Epstein’s little black book of contacts, no taking to the witness stand to present her own version of events or face a prosecutor’s interrogation, and no effort to escape punishment for her crimes by ratting out others.
Nothing but silence. While Maxwell clearly has her failings, knowing how to keep her mouth shut is not one of them. So those rich and powerful men who enjoyed Epstein’s hospitality in his New York townhouse, his villa in Palm Beach, on his own private island in the Caribbean, or even at Maxwell’s London home will breathe easier knowing that she has remained unfailingly loyal to the memory of her dead lover and held her counsel – to this point.
Most of Epstein’s victims have found some sort of closure with the verdict, satisfied that justice has been done at last. But there are still a few loose ends that need tidying up, and one of those is the case launched by Virginia Giuffre against Prince Andrew over allegations that she was also forced to have sex with the Queen’s second son on three separate occasions in 2001 at Maxwell’s behest.
The Duke of York was a good pal of Maxwell’s, and as long as there was doubt around her role in Epstein’s deviant empire, Prince Andrew could believably claim he knew nothing of the warped relationship she had with her boyfriend. Now the whole world has seen how manipulative, deceptive and, frankly, evil Maxwell could be, the British royal is left exposed like never before.
Two awful men of immense power and wealth – her father and her lover – helped shape Maxwell’s destiny. Maybe now, a third man who shares those attributes will forever be tied to her world that brought so much misery, cruelty and destruction to the lives of many vulnerable young girls.
Prince Andrew’s attempt to evade his accuser once and for all begins in earnest in a Manhattan court next week, with the Maxwell trial still fresh in everyone’s mind. It doesn’t matter that Epstein has been dead for more than two years; his role has paled now that the horror of his former girlfriend’s deeds has been exposed.
The Duke of York happily consorted with Epstein and Maxwell, and that in itself has brought shame on Britain’s royal family. They, too, now join the list of victims of these two monsters.
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