Ghislaine Maxwell sentenced to 20 years for helping Epstein – The Denver Post

By TOM HAYS and LARRY NEUMEISTER

NEW YORK (AP) — Ghislaine Maxwell, the jetsetting socialite who once hung out with royals, presidents and billionaires, was sentenced Tuesday to 20 years in prison for helping financier Jeffrey Epstein sexually assault underage girls.

The stiff sentence was the punctuation mark in a process that explored the sordid rituals of a predator power couple who courted the rich and famous while exploiting vulnerable girls as young as 14.

Prosecutors said Epstein, who committed suicide in 2019 while awaiting trial, was sexually assaulted hundreds of times over more than a decade, and could not have done so without the help of Maxwell, his longtime companion.

A jury convicted Maxwell, 60, in December of sex trafficking, transporting a minor to engage in illegal sex acts and two conspiracy charges.

Judge Alison J. Nathan, who also imposed a $750,000 fine, noted that Maxwell has never shown remorse. The judge said she wanted the sentence to send an “unmistakable message”.

Maxwell, dressed in a blue prison uniform and white mask to comply with coronavirus rules, looked to the side when the verdict was announced, but did not comment further. She was wearing leg cuffs that you could hear rattling as she walked into the courtroom.

Speaking to the court earlier, Maxwell stood by a lectern and said she sympathized with the survivors and hoped her sentence would bring them peace. But she admitted no guilt and blamed Epstein for the abuse, saying meeting him was the “biggest regret of my life”.

She called him “a manipulative, cunning and controlling man who led a deeply compartmentalized life.”

Annie Farmer, one of four prosecutors who testified at Maxwell’s trial, was momentarily overcome with emotion as she addressed the judge before the verdict was handed down.

“We will continue to live with the damage she has done to us,” Farmer said.

The judge said Maxwell was being punished for her “heinous and predatory” crimes, not Epstein’s. She criticized Maxwell’s “pattern of deflection and guilt”.

Four survivors of the sentencing described their sexual abuse, including Farmer, who said she and her sister tried to get to know their stories about Epstein and Maxwell two decades ago, but were turned off by the powerful couple through threats and influence in the authorities.

In a courtroom full of reporters, three of Maxwell’s siblings sat in a row behind her. Outside the courthouse, Kevin Maxwell said his sister will not give up her legal battle, “and we as a family will stand behind her.”

Defense attorney Bobbi Sternheim promised to appeal, saying Maxwell “has been tried and convicted in the court of public opinion”. She said Epstein had left Maxwell “with the whole bag in his hand”.

Earlier in the courtroom, assistant US attorney Alison Moe told how Maxwell and Epstein “harassed these kids together.” She called Maxwell “a person who was indifferent to the suffering of other people.”

Epstein and Maxwell’s associations with some of the world’s most famous people weren’t a prominent part of the process, but mentions of friends such as Bill Clinton, Donald Trump and Britain’s Prince Andrew showed the pair exploiting their connections to impress. their prey.

Over the past 17 years, dozens of women have accused Epstein of abusing them, with many describing Maxwell as the lady who recruited them. However, the trial revolved around accusations made by only a handful of those women.

Four testified that they were abused as teenagers in the 1990s and early 2000s in Epstein’s mansions in Florida, New York, New Mexico and the Virgin Islands.

Three were identified in court by their first name or pseudonym only to protect their privacy: Jane, a television actress; Kate, an ex-model from the UK; and Carolyn, now a mother recovering from drug addiction. The fourth was Farmer, the only prosecutor to identify herself by her real name in court after speaking out publicly.

They described how Maxwell enchanted them with talks and gifts, promising that Epstein could use his wealth and connections to fulfill their dreams.

Then, they testified, she led them to give Epstein massages that turned sexual and played it out like normal.

Carolyn testified that she was one of several underprivileged teens living near Epstein’s Florida home in the early 2000s and took an offer to massage him in exchange for $100 bills in what prosecutors described as “a pyramid of abuse.” .

Maxwell arranged everything, Carolyn told the jury, even though she knew the girl was only 14 at the time.

The allegations against Epstein first came out into the open in 2005. He pleaded guilty to sexual charges in Florida and served 13 months in prison, largely on a work exemption program as part of a deal criticized as lenient. After that, he had to register as a sex offender.

In the years that followed, many women sued Epstein for alleged abuse. One, Virginia Giuffre, claimed that Epstein and Maxwell also pressured her to have sexual hookups with other powerful men, including Prince Andrew. All those men denied the charges, and Giuffre eventually settled Andrew out of court.

Federal prosecutors in New York have revived the case against Epstein after stories from the Miami Herald in 2018 brought new attention to his crimes. He was arrested in 2019, but committed suicide a month later.

Eleven months after his death, Maxwell was arrested at a New Hampshire estate. She has since been imprisoned in a federal facility in New York City.

Her lawyers fought to have her conviction quashed on the grounds of the juror’s misconduct. Days after the verdict, a juror gave media interviews in which he revealed that he had been sexually abused as a child — something he failed to tell the court during the jury selection. Maxwell’s lawyers said she deserved a new trial. A judge disagreed.

At least eight women submitted letters to the judge, describing the sexual abuse they said they had endured.

Anne Holve and Philip Maxwell, her oldest siblings, wrote to court asking for leniency, saying their sister’s relationship with Epstein began shortly after the death of their father, British newspaper mogul Robert Maxwell, in 1991.

Robert Maxwell, they wrote, subjected his daughter to “frequent rapid mood swings, enormous fits of anger and rejection,” which “made her very vulnerable to abusive and powerful men who could take advantage of her innate good nature.”

Sarah Ransome – a prosecutor whose charges were not included in the trial – testified about the permanent damage to her life, looking directly at Maxwell several times.

“You broke me in unfathomable ways,” said Ransome, who twice tried to die by suicide. “But you didn’t break my spirit.”

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