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Celebrity Spin Guru Max Clifford Convicted on Assault Charges

Celebrity British publicist Max Clifford was convicted Monday of eight counts of indecent assault against girls as young as 15 years old.

Clifford gained a reputation as a master manipulator, wielding unrivaled power when it came to keeping the biggest names in showbiz in or out of the front pages, depending on the story.

The 71-year-old was cleared on two counts of indecent assault and the jury at London's Southwark Crown Court failed to reach a verdict on another.

But he was found guilty for the other eight counts of indecent assault, which related to offenses against women aged 15 to 19 between 1977 and 1984. He will be sentenced Friday.

The PR guru represented huge stars, from O.J. Simpson and Muhammad Ali to David Beckham and Jude Law. The court painted a picture of him as a man who pressured and physically forced women into performing sexual acts in return for promises of meetings with celebrities or roles in films.

He was the first person to be prosecuted as part of the U.K.'s Operation Yewtree, a police probe that was launched following the widespread scandal of sex abuse centered around television personality Jimmy Savile.

Peter Watt, director of National Services at the NSPCC, told BBC News that Clifford had been "unmasked as a ruthless and manipulative sex offender who preyed for decades on children and young women."

Emerging from the court, Clifford told reporters merely: "I have been told by my lawyers to say nothing at all."

Paul Connew, a media commentator who worked for some of Britain's biggest newspapers during Clifford's heyday, said: "I think Max saw life as this sleazy, sexy circus, where he was the controlling ring-leader."

— Alexander Smith