U.S. prosecutors have offered to drop two perjury charges pending against British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell on one condition: that her conviction on sexual abuse charges stands.
Maxwell, 60, was found guilty on Dec. 29 of grooming teenage girls to be sexually assaulted by Jeffrey Epstein, the wealthy financier who died in prison awaiting his own trial in 2019.
Prosecutors laid out their proposal for Judge Alison Nathan in a joint letter with defense attorneys on Monday. They suggested dropping the perjury charges “in light of the victims’ significant interests in bringing closure to this matter and avoiding the trauma of testifying again.”
The two perjury charges stem from a 2016 deposition in which Maxwell allegedly lied about Epstein’s child sexual abuse as part of a defamation lawsuit brought by accuser Virginia Giuffre.
Disturbing accounts of sexual abuse against girls as young as 14 unfolded last month during Maxwell’s trial, including witness testimony from four women who said they were abused at Epstein’s various sprawling properties. (Giuffre was not among them.) Defense attorneys argued Maxwell’s prosecution was a misplaced effort to seek justice for Epstein’s crimes posthumously.
But Maxwell was a predator herself, prosecutors said. They called her “essential” to Epstein and said the pair together conducted “a pyramid scheme of abuse.”
Jurors deliberated for five days before finding Maxwell guilty on five of six counts involving sex trafficking of minors.
Maxwell’s siblings, fellow heirs to their father’s vast U.K. publishing fortune, attended each day of the trial. Their sister may have to spend decades behind bars in American prison when she’s sentenced.
Prosecutors asked Nathan to set a sentencing date in “three to four” months’ time ― a request that defense attorneys argued against in their portion of the letter.
Maxwell’s lawyers contended there is “compelling basis” for the verdict to be overturned after discovering that one juror shared his personal experience with sexual abuse with fellow jurors during deliberations. The attorneys argued that the issue involving the juror should be resolved before Nathan schedules sentencing.