Ghislaine Maxwell was sentenced Tuesday to 20 years in prison for helping the late financier Jeffrey Epstein sexually abuse girls, capping the former socialite’s sordid fall.
The Oxford-educated daughter of the late British press baron Robert Maxwell appeared unresponsive when New York judge Alison Nathan pronounced the term in a packed federal court in Manhattan.
The sentence was much less than prosecutors had demanded, but still means the 60-year-old friend of royalty and former US presidents is likely to spend much of the rest of her life in prison.
Nathan called Maxwell’s crimes “horrific and predatory” as she used the amount of time recommended by the US Probation Agency, and Maxwell’s claims that she was being pursued by prosecutors rejected only because Epstein escaped trial by committing suicide in prison.
“It is important to emphasize that while Epstein was at the center of this criminal scheme, Ms. Maxwell is not being punished instead of Epstein or acting as agent for Epstein,” the judge said.
Maxwell was convicted late last year in five of the six cases, the most serious for minors in the sex trade after a high-profile month-long trial in New York.
The charges stemmed from crimes committed against four women between 1994 and 2004.
Prosecutors successfully proved she was “the key” to Epstein’s plan to trick young girls into giving him massages, whereby he would sexually abuse them.
Two of Epstein’s victims, identified as “Jane” and “Carolyn,” testified that they were only 14 years old when Maxwell began nursing them.
Maxwell offered condolences to the victims during a statement in court Tuesday, in which she said she was “sorry for the pain you experienced” but blamed Epstein.
“I believe Jeffrey Epstein was a manipulative, cunning and controlling man who lived a deeply compartmentalized life and fooled everyone in his job,” she said.
Prosecutors had asked that Maxwell face between 30 and 55 years in prison, because she was “an adult who made her own choices”.
In a statement, Damian Williams, the US attorney for the Southern District of New York, said the 20-year term “holds Ghislaine Maxwell responsible for committing heinous crimes against children,” he said.
Annie Farmer, the only victim not to testify under a pseudonym, welcomed the sentence as proof that “it’s never too late to tell the truth and never too late to answer.”
Maxwell has been incarcerated for some two years after her New Hampshire arrest in the summer of 2020, meaning she will likely be released in her late 70s, possibly earlier for good behavior.
“Ghislaine must die in prison,” prosecutor Sarah Ransome told reporters out of court before Maxwell’s fate was decided.
Her conviction completes a dramatic fall for the former international jet-setter who grew up in wealth and privilege as a friend of royalty.
Maxwell’s circle included Britain’s Prince Andrew, former US president and real estate baron Donald Trump and the Clinton family.
In February, Prince Andrew settled a sexual abuse lawsuit with Virginia Giuffre, who said she was smuggled into the royal family by Epstein and Maxwell.
Maxwell’s attorneys asked Nathan to show leniency and sentence their client to no more than five years.
They said she had “had a difficult, traumatic childhood with an overbearing, narcissistic and demanding father.”
“It made her vulnerable to Epstein, whom she met shortly after her father’s death,” they wrote in submissions this month, adding that Maxwell “cannot and should not bear all the punishment for which Epstein should have been held responsible.”
Money manager Epstein, then 66, hanged himself in jail in 2019 while awaiting his own sex crime trial in New York.
Maxwell’s lead attorney Bobbi Sternheim told reporters she would appeal the verdict.
In April, Nathan turned down Maxwell’s request for a new trial.
She unsuccessfully argued that a juror, who had bragged about helping to convince fellow panelists to convict Maxwell by recalling his own experiences as a victim of sexual abuse, had biased the jury.