Ghislaine Maxwell Guilty Verdict Sheds Light on Sex Trafficking

Press Releases / December 29, 2021

Recruitment of Underage Girls for the Sex Trade is Widespread


New York, NY – In the closely watched federal sex trafficking case, the jury convicted Ghislaine Maxwell on all but one count of sex trafficking and related charges in which mostly disadvantaged underage girls were recruited and groomed over multiple years and across state lines and international borders for the personal sexploitation of wealthy privileged men.

Maxwell was indicted on two counts of violating the federal Mann Act, which bars transporting people across state lines for illegal sexual activity. Maxwell also faces one charge of sex trafficking of a minor and three charges of sex trafficking conspiracy. Federal law bars recruiting or transporting anyone under 18 to participate in a “commercial sex act.”

The prosecution built a case that focused on Maxwell as the chief recruiter and groomer of mostly underage girls, for her boyfriend Jeffrey Epstein and his friends to abuse.

“Most sex trafficking indictments revolve around profiteering from recruiting and controlling women and children and selling them to men with disposable income,” said Sonia Ossorio, President of the National Organization for Women – New York. “Wealthy individuals like Maxwell and Epstein lure their victims not to make money but for their own sexual gratification.”

Sex trafficking happens in every corner of the US. Women, girls, LGBTQ individuals, and the undocumented are sold on the streets, in brothels, and online by individual profiteers and organized criminal groups.

The Urban Institute studied the sex trade markets in eight cities and found that pimps/promoters in one city earned an average $32,833 per week.

“This case does not reflect the reality of most sex trafficking, which involves delivering victims to paying customers within the world of prostitution,” Ossorio said. “It’s a multi-billion dollar industry that destroys lives, and its victims look no different than the ones recruited by Maxwell for Epstein and his friends.”

The methods of recruitment are also the same: targeting vulnerable people from kids who are poor, in unstable homes, have learning disabilities, etc., to undocumented people with limited opportunities to earn money and limited personal networks. The pattern continues efforts to establish trust by pretending to invest emotionally and financially in their future and providing a masquerade of care and concern for their victims’ well-being. Finally, creating an atmosphere where the abuse is normalized.

“The mansions, jets, and private island helped make this case a worldwide sensation,” Ossorio said. “Behind the wealth and glitz were the same motives and methods used by every sex buyer and pimp on any corner in the USA.”

NOW-NY works to advance economic opportunity for women and fairness in the workplace, protect and expand reproductive rights, and strengthen our criminal justice system for victims of gender-based violence.


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