Maxwell, 60, is found guilty by a 12-person US jury in New York and could potentially spend the rest of her life behind bars.

Jurors deliberated for five full days before finding Maxwell guilty while the defence had insisted she was a victim of a vindictive prosecution.
Jurors deliberated for five full days before finding Maxwell guilty while the defence had insisted she was a victim of a vindictive prosecution. (AP)

A US court has convicted British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell of luring teenage girls to be sexually abused by the American millionaire Jeffrey Epstein.

Wednesday's verdict capped a monthlong trial featuring sordid accounts of the sexual exploitation of girls as young as 14, told by four women who described being abused as teens in the 1990s and early 2000s at Epstein's palatial homes in Florida, New York and New Mexico.

Jurors deliberated for five full days before finding Maxwell guilty of five of six counts.

She faces the likelihood of years in prison, an outcome long sought by women who spent years fighting in civil courts to hold Maxwell accountable for her role in recruiting and grooming Epstein's teenage victims and sometimes joining in the sexual abuse.

READ MORE: Prince Andrew served in sexual abuse accuser Giuffre's lawsuit

'A pyramid of abuse' 

Three victims testified using first names or pseudonyms to protect their privacy: Jane, a television actress; Kate, a former model from Great Britain; and Carolyn, now a mom recovering from drug addiction. The fourth was Annie Farmer, a psychologist who chose to use her real name after being vocal about her allegations in recent years.

They echoed one another in their descriptions of Maxwell’s behaviour: She used charm and gifts to gain their trust, taking an interest in their adolescent challenges and giving them assurances that Epstein could use his wealth and connections to fulfill their dreams.

Carolyn testified that she was one of several underprivileged teens who lived near Epstein's Florida home in the early 2000s and took up an offer to give massages in exchange for $100 bills, which prosecutors described as "a pyramid of abuse."

Lawsuits involving the abuse allegations also continue, including one in which a woman not involved in the trial, Virginia Giuffre, says she was coerced into sexual encounters with Prince Andrew when she was 17.

READ MORE: Epstein accuser sues Britain's Prince Andrew for alleged sexual abuse

Vindictive prosecution

Maxwell's legal team questioned whether the accusers' memories were faulty, or had been influenced by lawyers seeking big payouts from Maxwell and from Epstein's estate in civil court .

The defence had insisted Maxwell was a victim of a vindictive prosecution devised to deliver justice to women deprived of their main villain when Epstein killed himself while awaiting trial in 2019.

Maxwell's family complained she was under duress from harsh conditions at the Brooklyn jail where she's been held since her arrest in July 2020.

She had repeatedly, and futilely, sought bail, arguing that she was unable to adequately contribute to her defence.

Before Maxwell was taken from the courtroom, defence attorney Bobbi Sternheim asked that arrangements be made to give her a coronavirus booster shot, saying infection rates were rising dramatically at the lockup.

READ MORE: Ghislaine Maxwell pleads not guilty to sex trafficking

Source: AP