How Does the Ghislaine Maxwell Conviction Affect Victims’ Civil Claims?


After a month-long trial that included five days of deliberations, jurors found British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell guilty on several criminal charges for her role in luring and grooming underage girls for financier Jeffrey Epstein. According to US News & World Report, she was convicted December 29, 2021, on a total of five counts that included sex trafficking. The judge presiding over the case in the U.S. District Court of New York set a sentencing date for June 28, 2022. Maxwell faces up to 65 years in federal prison, so she could spend the rest of her life behind bars.

In cases involving sex trafficking and sexual assault in Alaska, victims may qualify to recover compensation from assailants and those who support them. Considering the emotional consequences, it is worthwhile to consider all legal remedies if you suffered harm. An Anchorage sexual assault attorney can explain the relevant legal concepts, but there are a few things to know:


A Conviction is Not Necessary for Civil Claims

Criminal cases are based upon illegal acts, and the prosecutor pursues charges as a way to punish offenders and protect the public. This is why the government takes the position of the plaintiff in a criminal matter; a “win” in such a case is getting a conviction for the defendant.

In a civil case based upon criminal acts, it is the victim who is the plaintiff suing all parties who played a role. To prevail in a civil case, the plaintiff does not need to show that the assailant was convicted in the criminal matter. They are separate proceedings, so the result in one does not automatically conclude the other. In a civil case, a “win” means recovering damages for:

  • Medical costs;
  • Lost wages;
  • Pain and suffering; and,
  • Emotional distress.


Standard of Proof

While the prosecutor in a criminal case has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the standard of proof is lower in a civil matter. In Alaska, the applicable standard is “preponderance of the evidence.” Essentially, the point is to have sufficient proof to show that it is more likely than not that something occurred in a specific way.


Potential Parties in Sexual Assault and Abuse Cases

The Maxwell verdict is an example of how someone can be guilty for playing an indirect role in a crime. This concept carries over to civil cases as well, making it possible for victims of sexual assault to seek compensation from those who facilitated another’s criminal acts. Often, it makes sense to pursue other parties for negligence or vicarious liability, in which an employer is liable for the negligent acts of an employee.


Trust an Alaska Sexual Assault Lawyer to Advocate on Your Behalf 

It is useful to know these facts about civil cases for sexual assault, but you can rely on our team at Power & Power Law to handle the details. To learn more about the legal process, please contact our offices in Anchorage, Alaska to set up a no-cost consultation.