Ghislaine Maxwell, the jet-setting British socialite who once hung out with royals, presidents and billionaires, was sentenced Tuesday to 20 years in prison for helping financier Jeffrey Epstein sexually abuse underage girls.
The stiff sentence was the punctuation mark in a lawsuit examining the sordid rituals of a predator power couple who courted the rich and famous as they lured vulnerable girls as young as 14 and then exploited them.
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 and one-time girlfriend who they said sometimes also did. participated in the abuse.
In December, a New York federal court jury convicted Maxwell of sex trafficking, transporting a minor to engage in illegal sex acts, and two conspiracy charges.
U.S. District Judge Alison J. Nathan, who also imposed a $750,000 U.S. fine, said “a very substantial punishment is needed” and that she wanted to send a “definite message” that crimes like this would be punished.
Prosecutors had asked the judge to sentence her to 30 to 55 years in prison, while the defense of 60-year-old Maxwell demanded a lenient sentence of just five years.
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.
“We will continue to live with the damage she has done to us,” Annie Farmer, one of the four prosecutors who testified at Maxwell’s trial, said in the courtroom before the sentencing.
More to come