Ghislaine Maxwell is guilty. Is Prince Andrew next? On Wednesday, a jury convicted Maxwell — the British socialite and longtime associate of disgraced billionaire Jeffrey Epstein — of five of six charges related to sex trafficking. She is facing up to 65 years in prison. Lisa Bloom, an attorney who has represented several Epstein accusers, thinks that decision should be a warning for another famous associate of the late sex offender: “I think Prince Andrew should be quaking in his royal boots,” Bloom tells Rolling Stone. “I think he should be concerned. Reckoning is coming for everyone who enabled Jeffrey Epstein and participated in his scheme.”
A jury of four men and four women, who had started deliberating on Dec. 20, convicted Maxwell sex trafficking of a minor and transporting a minor with the intent of engaging in sexual activity, as well as three counts of conspiracy; she was acquitted of one count of enticing a minor to travel across state lines. Throughout the trial, four women testified that they had been sexually abused by Epstein and that Maxwell had facilitated the abuse, as Rolling Stone has previously reported.
In the wake of the guilty verdict, many across social media who had been following the high-profile case celebrated Maxwell’s downfall, viewing it as the uber-wealthy socialite receiving her comeuppance for decades of procuring young women for Epstein to abuse. “I represent eight victims of Jeffrey Epstein, one of whom also has allegations against Ghislaine Maxwell. We are moved to tears,” Bloom says. “We just really can’t believe it after all of these years. She’s had 60 years of freedom, and may she never walk free again.”
That leaves the question as to what might happen with the case of Prince Andrew, who has been accused by alleged Epstein victim Virginia Giuffre of assaulting her when she was a young woman. Giuffre has claimed that Epstein trafficked her to have sex with Prince Andrew when she was just 17. Prince Andrew has denied these allegations, saying in an interview from earlier this year that he has “no recollection of ever meeting” Giuffre — despite the existence of a now-famous photograph of the two of them together, telling the BBC, “you can’t prove whether or not that photograph is faked or not.”
Prince Andrew’s defense team has been aggressively trying to get the Southern District Court of New York to drop Giuffre’s civil case against him. In documents filed yesterday, Prince Andrew’s attorney Andrew B. Brettler argued that the case should be dismissed because the court did not have jurisdiction, as Giuffre has spent the majority of the past 20 years in Australia rather than America. Giuffre’s lawyer told Rolling Stone that Brettler’s efforts were “just another in a series of tired attempts by Prince Andrew to duck and dodge the legal merits of the case Virginia Giuffre has brought against him.”
The defense team has also tried to block the release of court documents related to Epstein’s 2009 settlement with Giuffre, which bears directly on Andrew’s case. Yet that argument did not succeed: On Wednesday, U.S. District Judges Lewis Kaplan and Loretta Preska in Manhattan ruled that the documents be released on Jan. 3, 2022.
“This is a huge setback for Prince Andrew and his defense,” Florida lawyer Adam Horowitz, who has represented multiple Epstein accusers, tells Rolling Stone. He pointed out that Maxwell is mentioned 23 times in Giuffre’s lawsuit against the British royal. “Had Maxwell been acquitted, she would have been a key witness for Prince Andrew. She could have denied all of the things that she’s accused of doing with regard to Virginia and Prince Andrew. The lawsuit says that Maxwell recruited for Epstein, that she manipulated victims for Epstein, that she intimidated victims and that Virginia was actually introduced to Prince Andrew through Maxwell,” Horowitz said. “Obviously he can no longer call her as a favorable witness,” Horowitz said. “They can’t call Maxwell now to refute anything.”
David Boies, an attorney for Guiffre, tells Rolling Stone in a statement that he sees this outcome as an opening to prosecute others who might have been involved. “The jury’s verdict vindicates the courage and commitment of our clients who stood up against all odds for many years to bring Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell to justice,” he says. “They did not act, and could not have acted, alone. The scope and scale and duration of their sex trafficking crimes depended on many wealthy and powerful collaborators and co-conspirators. They too are not above the law. They too must be brought to justice.”
Not everyone following the case, however, feels that Maxwell’s downfall is a bad omen for the other men implicated in the case. The chances of Maxwell bringing anyone else down by naming names are “pretty low,” says one assistant US attorney, who declined to be named as he is not authorized to speak from the Department of Justice. “If I was her defense attorney I would’ve said to her early on ‘Ok, here’s what happens if you get found guilty: rest of your life in prison. BUT if you have good information, and you pled guilty, I bet I can get you out in 5-10.’ So if she had that card, she likely would’ve played it already. Doesn’t do her much benefit now.”
Even if any of the other cases went to trial, Maxwell likely would not make for a reliable witness, the attorney adds. “[Prosecutors] just really don’t need her anymore,” he adds. “Her credibility is gone and they probably already know whatever she can give.”
Regarding the guilty verdict against Maxwell specifically, attorney Sigrid McCawley, David Boies’ partner on the case, credits the accusers who bravely came forward. “Today’s verdict is a towering victory, not just for the brave women who testified in this trial, but for the women around the world whose young and tender lives were diminished and damaged by the abhorrent actions of Ghislaine Maxwell,” he said in a statement. “I am in awe of their sacrifice, their courage and the strength they have shown in pursuit of justice.”
Despite the open questions as to what this verdict may mean for Prince Andrew’s case, Maxwell’s victims, as well as their advocates, are satisfied with the result of the trial. “My [soul] yearned for justice for years and today the jury gave me just that,” Guiffre said in a statement. “I will remember this day always. Having lived with the horrors of Maxwell’s abuse, my heart goes out to the many other girls and young women who suffered at her hands and whose lives she destroyed. I hope that today is not the end but rather another step in justice being served. Maxwell did not act alone. Others must be held accountable. I have faith that they will be.”