Ghislaine Maxwell was everywhere — Buckingham Palace, Mar-a-Lago, Chelsea Clinton's wedding — until she was nowhere. The socialite "ex-girlfriend" of serial sex abuser Jeffrey Epstein, once a regular tabloid fixture and philanthropist among the jet set, disappeared around 2015. She sold her Upper East Side townhouse, secretly married, and remained silent and unseen from her seclusion in New England country homes all the way through her criminal trial.
Of course, getting convicted on five child sex trafficking charges might change Maxwell's tune, or her lack thereof. Given the vast network Maxwell and Epstein maintained to silence their victims and protect their powerful co-conspirators, this trial may prove the only chance to litigate the entire matter in criminal court, so prosecutors will surely plan to throw the book at Maxwell during sentencing. Maxwell, who remained utterly mum during the trial, now has a decision to make: Does she continue to protect her famous friends with her silence, or will she finally spill all of her secrets in the hopes of brokering a shorter sentence?
Maxwell turned 60 this Christmas, and unlike Epstein, a notoriously paranoid control freak who devolved into a disaster once behind bars, Maxwell has reportedly kept her cool throughout the criminal proceedings. By all available reports, Maxwell is not acting like someone who has any intentions of dying behind bars, either by her own hand as Epstein elected or by old age. Her lawyers, who repeatedly asked for her release — fat chance a French national with her checkbook would ever not be considered a flight risk — immediately announced that they're challenging the ruling, but Maxwell's best bet might be to start answering questions.
The Epstein circle included presidents of both parties, millionaires and billionaires, actors and models, and a literal prince. Maxwell is such a monster that the very notion of her walking the Earth a free woman repulses the rest of us, but to the state, Maxwell could prove very useful. Would prosecutors consider it a worthy deal to trade one Epstein associate's freedom in exchange for locking up a dozen? It's fully possible.
Of course, the maximum 60-year sentence, a de facto life sentence in Maxwell's case, may not be the only way she dies behind bars, as Epstein's questionable death proves. It's up to the feds to keep Maxwell alive in the hopes that the tip of the iceberg finally reveals the whole criminal operation at last.