Ghislaine Maxwell was found guilty by a U.S. jury on Wednesday of helping the late financier Jeffrey Epstein sexually abuse teenage girls, sealing a remarkable fall from grace for the British socialite.
Maxwell, 60, was accused of recruiting and grooming four teenagers between 1994 and 2004 for Epstein, her former boyfriend, who killed himself in 2019 in a Manhattan jail cell while awaiting trial on sex abuse charges of his own.
She was convicted on five of six counts, including one count of sex trafficking. Lawyers for Maxwell, who faces up to 65 years in prison, vowed to appeal.
Maxwell’s trial was widely seen as the reckoning Epstein never had and one of the highest-profile cases in the wake of the #MeToo movement, which encouraged women to speak out about sexual abuse by famous and powerful people.
During the month-long trial, jurors heard emotional and explicit testimony from four women who portrayed Maxwell as central to their abuse by Epstein. Three of the four said Maxwell herself touched their bare breasts or took part in the encounters, which often began as massages.
Maxwell’s attorneys sought to undermine the women’s credibility, arguing that they were motivated by money to implicate Maxwell since all four had received million-dollar awards from a compensation fund for Epstein’s victims.
But the women disputed those characterizations, saying they decided to testify out of a desire for justice, not money.
“Money will not ever fix what that woman has done to me,” testified one woman, known by her first name Carolyn, who said Maxwell once touched her bare breasts and buttocks as she prepared to massage Epstein when she was 14 in 2002.
Carolyn’s case was at the heart of the sex trafficking charge because she said Maxwell would sometimes hand her hundreds of dollars in cash after she gave Epstein erotic massages. Epstein would masturbate during the encounters in his Palm Beach, Florida estate, Carolyn testified.
The jury deliberated for five full days before reaching the verdict.
After the verdict was read, Maxwell, wearing a burgundy turtleneck, poured herself a glass of water. Defense attorney Jeffrey Pagliuca patted her upper back. An expressionless Maxwell looked briefly at two of her siblings seated in the front row as she left the courtroom.
Annie Farmer, one of the women who testified against Maxwell, said: “I am so relieved and grateful that the jury recognized the pattern of predatory behavior that Maxwell engaged in for years and found her guilty of these crimes.”
Maxwell’s lawyer, Bobbi Sternheim, told reporters the defense was disappointed with the verdict.
“We have already started working on the appeal, and we are confident that she will be vindicated,” Sternheim said outside of the courthouse.
Maxwell will return to Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC), where she has been held in isolation since July 2020. Maxwell has voiced concerns about her treatment at the jail, asserting that guards have disrupted her sleep at night and that the stench of raw sewage has permeated her cell.
Sternheim asked U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan after the verdict was read to ensure that Maxwell received her booster vaccine against COVID-19. Nathan said the shot was available at MDC, and that she would look into it.
‘ROAD TO JUSTICE’
The conditions at MDC are a far cry from the opulence that Maxwell, a daughter of late British press baron Robert Maxwell, had been accustomed to most of her life.
Her father founded a publishing house and owned tabloids including the Daily Mirror. He was found dead off his yacht near the Canary Islands in 1991.
Ghislaine Maxwell dated Epstein for several years in the 1990s, when the pair attended high society parties and traveled on luxurious private jets.
During the trial, prosecutors showed jurors bank records indicating Epstein paid Maxwell millions of dollars over the years. They said Maxwell was motivated to do whatever it took to keep Epstein happy in order to maintain her luxurious lifestyle.
Maxwell’s attorneys argued prosecutors were scapegoating her because Epstein was no longer alive.
“Epstein’s death left a gaping hole in the pursuit of justice for many of these women,” Sternheim said. “She’s filling that hole, and filling that empty chair.”
But prosecutors countered by describing Maxwell as Epstein’s “partner in crime.”
“Ghislaine Maxwell made her own choices. She committed crimes hand in hand with Jeffrey Epstein. She was a grown woman who knew exactly what she was doing,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Alison Moe said.
Damian Williams, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, applauded the verdict in a statement that said Maxwell was convicted of “one of the worst crimes imaginable.”
“The road to justice has been far too long,” his statement said. “But, today, justice has been done. I want to commend the bravery of the girls – now grown women – who stepped out of the shadows and into the courtroom.”
Epstein’s arrest and suicide drew attention to Maxwell’s role in his abuses, and to the financier’s relationships with prominent figures like former U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, Britain’s Prince Andrew and billionaire investor Leon Black.
None has been charged with crimes related to Epstein.
The prince, a former friend of Epstein, is defending against a civil lawsuit in Manhattan claiming he sexually abused Virginia Giuffre, another of Epstein’s accusers. Andrew has denied her claims.
‘THAT DID NOT FEEL NORMAL’
During the trial, prosecutors displayed for the jury a green massage table that was seized from Epstein’s Florida estate in 2005, backing up the women’s descriptions of the massages.
The one charge Maxwell was acquitted on – enticing an underage girl to travel for the purpose of illegal sexual activity – carried a maximum penalty of five years in prison.
That charge pertained to a woman known by the pseudonym Jane, who testified that she was 14 when Epstein first abused her in 1994.
Jane said she often traveled to Epstein’s homes in New Mexico and New York, where some of the abuse took place, and that Maxwell sometimes helped coordinate her travel.
Maxwell at times took part in her sexual encounters with Epstein and acted as if it was normal, Jane testified.
“It made me feel confused because that did not feel normal to me,” Jane said. “I’d never seen anything like this or felt anything like this.”
Despite the not-guilty verdict on that count, the jury appeared to find other aspects of Jane’s story credible. They convicted Maxwell of transporting a minor to travel for illegal sex acts, another count that pertained solely to Jane.
Moe said during her closing argument that Maxwell’s presence made young girls feel comfortable with Epstein. Otherwise, receiving an invitation to spend time with a middle-aged man would have seemed “creepy” and “set off alarm bells,” Moe said.
“Epstein could not have done this alone,” she said.
(Reporting by Luc Cohen; Additional reporting by Jonathan Stempel; Editing by Noeleen Walder, Alistair Bell, Grant McCool and Sandra Maler)
Canadian mail likely not source of Beijing Omicron: experts – CTV News
After the city of Beijing announced its first case of the Omicron variant, Chinese officials alleged that the virus may have travelled to the city through a piece of mail from Canada—a claim experts say doesn’t add up.
“This doesn’t sound credible at all,” Dr. Colin Furness, an expert in infectious disease epidemiology from the University of Toronto, told CTVNews.ca in an email, noting that surface transmission of COVID-19 through international mail is highly improbable.
The Beijing Center for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) said that the city reported one case of the COVID-19 variant on Saturday in a 26-year-old woman. After conducting contact tracing, officials said the woman did not travel outside the capital and had not come in contact with anyone else with the virus.
However, the Beijing CDC says it examined the woman’s mail, which included a letter sent on Jan. 7 from Canada, arriving in Beijing three days later via the United States and Hong Kong.
Officials allege that piece of mail had traces of the Omicron variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. This includes samples taken from the paper inside the envelope, even though the woman said she had only touched the outer surface of the package.
“The possibility of contracting the virus through foreign items cannot be ruled out,” the Beijing CDC said in a translated news release.
But Furness says it’s highly unlikely that the virus could survive for that many days in transit.
“COVID’s ability to survive on paper depends partly on the roughness of the paper. But it’s unlikely to persist in an active state for more than a day or two. High friction with other documents in a mailbag makes survival of even a day seem unlikely,” he said.
University of Saskatchewan epidemiologist Dr. Nazeem Muhajarine also calls the claims “bewildering.”
“I would ask whether the ‘officials’ who claimed this have ruled out all other more plausible exposures to Omicron. Are these supposed viral particles isolated and tested viable? Is there any independent verification?” Muhajarine said in an email to CTVNews.ca.
“For this claim to carry any credibility, so many exceptional things have to line up.”
The Beijing CDC is encouraging residents to wear gloves while handling packages, disinfect packaging with alcohol and avoid buying goods from overseas if possible.
However, Muhajarine says that reports of transmission of COVID-19 through surfaces are “exceedingly rare.”
“We now know that this virus transmits most readily through the air via aerosolized means. Even then, it is likely that Omicron doesn’t maintain its viability to infect days after it is released into the air,” he said.
When asked about the claims from Chinese officials, Canadian Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said the allegations are “certainly not in accordance with what we have done both internationally and domestically.”
“I would say that the experts can tell us what to think,” he told reporters in French on Monday. “I obviously have my own opinion. But for an opinion to be useful and credible, we need more information and I think the experts should speak.”
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole called the reports “comical.”
“Obviously we’re very concerned with variants within the pandemic, variants that have come from outside of Canada but that we have to deal with here. Stories like this remind us that from the beginning of the pandemic, some of the news and reporting out of China could not be trusted,” he said at a Monday press conference.
The single case in Beijing has been identified at the worst possible time for the city, as it prepares to welcome thousands of athletes for the Olympics — including from countries where Omicron is raging.
Furness also notes that geopolitics may be a part of why Chinese authorities are pointing the finger at Canada.
“Sino-Canadian relations are in poor shape, and China may be very keen to counter accusations that it infected the world, with these sorts of narratives,” he said.
With files from The Associated Press
Global jobs recovery delayed by pandemic uncertainty, Omicron, ILO says
The global job market will take longer to recover than previously thought, with unemployment set to remain above pre-COVID-19 levels until at least 2023 due to uncertainty about the pandemic’s course and duration, the International Labour Organization said in a report on Monday.
The U.N. agency estimates the equivalent of around 52 million fewer jobs in 2022 versus pre-COVID levels, which amounts to about double its previous estimate from June 2021.
Disruptions are set to continue into 2023 when there will still be around 27 million fewer jobs, it said, warning of a “slow and uncertain” recovery in its World Employment and Social Outlook report for 2022.
“The global labour market outlook has deteriorated since the ILO’s last projections; a return to pre-pandemic performance is likely to remain elusive for much of the world over the coming years,” the report said.
Director-General Guy Ryder told journalists that there were numerous factors behind its revision, saying the “primary one is the continuing pandemic and its variants, notably Omicron.”
The speed of recovery varies across regions, with the European and North American regions showing the most encouraging signs and Southeast Asia and South America lagging behind, according to the report.
Still, the projected deficit in working hours this year represents an improvement over the past two years. In 2021, the ILO estimates there were some 125 million fewer jobs than pre-pandemic levels and in 2020, 258 million fewer.
Overall, around 207 million people are estimated to be unemployed in 2022. However, the report said that the impact would be significantly greater since many people have left the labour force and have yet to return.
Among those are a high number of women https://www.reuters.com/markets/funds/gender-equality-takes-one-step-forward-three-back-during-covid-2021-12-02, often because they have been drawn into unpaid work at home such as teaching children during school closures or caring for sick family members.
The report predicted that the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on women’s employment would narrow in the coming years but that a “sizeable gap” would remain.
“There are some anecdotal indications that they are not coming back in the same numbers and in the same portions as men are doing which would lead to concerns that a ‘Long COVID’ effect on gender at work would be a negative one,” said Ryder.
Others who have left the workforce have done so voluntarily as part of a phenomenon some economists call “the great resignation”. Ryder said this appeared to be more prominent in areas of the economy such as health and care giving.
“We do need to look again and to invest further in those areas of economic activity,” he said.
(Reporting by Emma Farge; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel and Chizu Nomiyama)
Black and Racialized Artists, Musicians and Producers Join Forces For THE FREEDOM MARCHING PROJECT
January 2022/Toronto, ON — Rufus John, award-winning Black Caribbean-Canadian R&B/ Soul singer & songwriter is gearing up to release the single, Freedom Marching (Part I). The song will be available for pre-order on January 10th, 2022 and will be featured on the 3-song EP, The Freedom Marching Project, which is slated to be released on February 4th, 2022.
In support of the release of the EP, the project will also consist of; two official music videos, one in-studio performance video, a Call-To-Action Commercial, a Behind the Scenes Docuseries and a website that will feature resources and information for those who are willing to watch, listen and learn to then #JoinTheMarch.
The Freedom Marching Project founded by John, was inspired by the thousands of people who had the courage to use their voice to take action by marching through streets all over the world shouting, “Black Lives Matter!” in what is hailed as the most significant civil rights movement of our generation. The goals of the Project are to use the creative power of Art, Education and Activism to; honor the community leaders who are fighting daily on the frontlines for equity, access, diversity, participation, and rights for Black, Indigenous, racialized communities, to shed light on the lived experiences of Black, Indigenous & Racialized communities and to provide resources and information to those who want to Stay Informed, Get Connected and Take Action.
John’s own music tells life stories of his past. A certified youth worker and mentor, John’s goal is to bring to the fore-front, deeply embedded issues experienced by the youth he helps and to inspire those who want to do more, to listen, to learn and join the movement. John’s mandate has always been to not just connect but to engage. John’s patience & commitment comes from his own experiences & mistakes and the people that helped him. Walking alongside the youth he mentors is not only necessary for their journey but for his. Being in for the long term is important. Showing up is key.
John used his connections within the music industry to bring together some Juno & Grammy award winners & nominees to lend their voices and talents to this special project. Collectively the talented group is called, United Artists 4 change and the ensemble features over 40 Black and Racialized Artists, Musicians and Producers from around Canada. The EP was produced by Da-Rell Clifton, vocally produced by Gary McAuley, Rufus John & Darren Hamilton, and mixed/mastered by Dan Brodbeck. Some of the artists involved are: JRDN, Carlos Morgan, D.O, Chad Price, Dan-e-o, Owen “O Sound” Lee, Dwayne Morgan, Quisha Wint, Jason Simmons (Vocal Paint), The McAuley Boys, Nefe, Clair Davis, Aphrose, D/Shon and The Waterloo Region Mass Choir.
The Freedom Marching Project has partnered with Community leader Selam Debs & the initiative Parents of Black Children. A Go Fund Me page has been set up where people can donate for the month of February and all the proceeds raised via Go Fund Me will be evenly distributed between The Freedom Marching Project and our partners who are combating racism, oppression and discrimination within the current systems and communities.
Jan 10th: Pre save/order Freedom Marching (Part I)
Jan 17th: Docuseries Ep.1
Jan 21st: Docuseries Ep. 2
Jan 26th: Docuseries Ep. 3
Jan 28th: Freedom Marching (Part I) Release
Feb 1st: In Studio Music Video Release
Feb 4th: Full EP Release
Feb 11th & 12th: Music Videos Release
Connect with The Freedom Marching Project:
Tik Tok: https://www.tiktok.com/@freedommarchingproject
** Talent available for interviews
Sasha Stoltz Publicity & Management:Sasha Stoltz | Sasha@sashastoltzpublicity.com | 416.579.4804
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