Maxwell Verdict Is a Chance to End Enabling of Rich Predators

The next move is up to the rest of us, Deborah Tuerkheimer writes
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 29, 2021 7:00 PM CST
Maxwell's Conviction Is a Step Against Enabling Predators
Prosecutor Audrey Strauss points to a photo of Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell during a news conference in July 2020.   (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

(Newser) – Ghislaine Maxwell's conviction Wednesday was a milestone, Deborah Tuerkheimer writes in an opinion piece in the New York Times, a first during the #MeToo era. And while it demonstrates that those who enable criminals are subject to criminal prosecution themselves, it's only a step, she says. The nation's system of "cultural complicity" in protecting predators—"particularly men with status, wealth and privilege"—remains intact. Nearly all the people who helped the likes of Jeffrey Epstein, Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein, and R. Kelly have escaped accountability.

Even after Epstein was charged, he had to serve just more than a year and was allowed to leave a Florida jail six days a week to run his business. Tuerkheimer, a law professor, says Maxwell's conviction "should not obscure the reality that Mr. Epstein's enablers were many: employees who allegedly helped him capitalize on the desperation of marginalized girls and women, the influential friends who knew or should have known of his ongoing scheme, the Florida prosecutors who provided the sweetheart deal, the power brokers who by association legitimized his misconduct."

Maxwell was vulnerable to prosecution because she broke the law, while the networks of other people who protected Epstein did not. The verdict should not make the rest of us, including prosecutors, complacent, Tuerkheimer says. Change is needed, and just speaking up about suspected abuse can chip away at the damaging culture. "Impunity for abusers is given collectively, and it lies mostly beyond the law," she writes. "Even more difficult than prosecuting the worst enablers is confronting the complicity we share." Read the full piece here. (Read more Ghislaine Maxwell stories.)

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