Why Charging Jeffrey Epstein’s Alleged Accomplice Is Going to Be Difficult


In the days since convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein killed himself in a Manhattan jail cell, there has been a growing public outcry asking why his longtime confidante and alleged accomplice Ghislaine Maxwell has not yet been charged. Former FBI Assistant Director Frank Figliuzzi asked, “Why is she still walking around?” And after a photo (since discredited) emerged purporting to show Maxwell eating outside an In-N-Out Burger restaurant, one prominent legal analyst asked, “Why is the most wanted woman in America just walking around L.A.?

Unfortunately, the answer is likely that law enforcement simply does not yet have sufficient evidence to ensure a conviction of Maxwell. If they had enough evidence, they would have charged her already. Getting that evidence will not be anywhere near as easy as some pundits might suggest.

The indictment against Epstein charged him with a sex trafficking conspiracy. That charge allowed prosecutors to include all of Epstein’s abuse of minors in multiple jurisdictions—in New York, Florida and elsewhere—regardless of when the acts took place. To charge Maxwell with the same conspiracy, prosecutors would need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that she agreed with Epstein to engage in sex trafficking.

Given that Epstein is dead and that criminals rarely put agreements to commit crime in writing, proof of an agreement between the two would likely rely on circumstantial evidence. But Maxwell would also be criminally responsible for Epstein’s conspiracy if she “aided and abetted” the conspiracy. That would require prosecutors to prove that she knew about the criminal conspiracy and helped to make it succeed.

Nonetheless, prosecutors would need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Maxwell knew that force, threats of force, fraud or coercion would be used to cause victims to engage in a commercial sex act. The bottom line is that prosecutors would need to prove that Maxwell knew Epstein abused the girls and that he used force, threats of force, fraud, or coercion to do so.

That isn’t as easy as it sounds, particularly if Epstein’s estate pays for Maxwell to have a top-flight legal team. Unlike Epstein, Maxwell does not have a prior conviction, which could have been used against Epstein at trial. Prosecutors would not be able to use affidavits to prove their case because defendants have a right to cross-examine their accusers. So victims would need to testify on the witness stand about what they saw Maxwell do. In my experience, it can be difficult for victims to face individuals who abused them as a child, and many are reluctant to do so. – READ MORE

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