Ghislaine Maxwell, Jeffrey Epstein’s associate who lured underage girls into the lurid world of the disgraced financier, was sentenced Tuesday to 20 years in prison and a $750,000 fine after being convicted in December of five criminal offenses, including sex trafficking.
Speaking in court for five minutes, Maxwell said she sympathized with the victims but took no responsibility for causing their suffering. She said meeting Epstein was her biggest regret.
As Maxwell spoke, victims and prosecutors grinned and raised their eyebrows. At least two burst into tears.
A prosecutor said seeing Maxwell in ankle chains gave her comfort and felt appropriate.
US Attorney Damian Williams said the verdict holds her “responsible for committing horrific crimes against children”.
“This sentence sends a strong message that no one is above the law and that it is never too late for justice,” Williams said in a statement. “We once again express our gratitude to the victims of Epstein and Maxwell for their courage to come forward, testify at trial and share their stories as part of today’s sentencing.”
Maxwell, 60, and Epstein, who died by suicide in prison, “were partners in crime who together sexually exploited young girls,” said New York City federal prosecutors, who ordered the judge to serve at least 30 years in prison. asked.
Prosecutors said Maxwell and Epstein carefully selected their victims, claiming it was no coincidence that the four accusers who testified — “Jane,” “Kate,” Carolyn and Annie — were from a single mother. The victims were isolated and showered with gifts, flattery and promises of career help in what Federal Prosecutor Alison Moe described as a pattern of grooming and abuse.
“Ghislaine Maxwell was instrumental in the horrific sexual abuse of multiple young teenage girls,” the prosecutors wrote in a criminal memorandum. “As part of a disturbing agreement with Jeffrey Epstein, Maxwell identified, nursed and abused multiple victims while enjoying a life of extraordinary luxury and privilege.”
Maxwell’s lawyer said on Sunday she had been placed under suicide watch pending sentencing at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn — although her lawyers had told the court she was not suicidal and outside psychologists agreed with that assessment.
Maxwell, who maintains her innocence, accused the government of treating her “as if she were a nominee” before Epstein and asked the judge to impose a sentence well below the 55-year maximum.
“The witnesses at the trial testified about facilitating Ms. Maxwell in Epstein’s abuse, but Epstein was always the central figure: Epstein was the mastermind, Epstein was the main abuser, and Epstein orchestrated the crimes for his personal satisfaction,” attorneys said. of the defense in their criminal memorandum. “Indeed, if Ghislaine Maxwell had never had the profound misfortune of meeting Jeffrey Epstein over 30 years ago, she wouldn’t be here.”
The defense also suggested that Maxwell was prone to Epstein’s influence, in part because of her relationship with her father, the late British publishing magnate Robert Maxwell, who the defense said had abused her verbally and physically.
Ghislaine vividly recalls a time when she was 13 years old when she stuck a poster of a pony to the freshly painted wall of her bedroom. Instead of damaging the paint with masking tape, she gently hammered a thin nail to fix the poster. confirm,” said the defense. said memo. “This infuriated her father, who took the hammer and hit Ghislaine’s dominant hand, which left it badly bruised and painful for the next few weeks.”
Prosecutors called Maxwell’s attempts to divert blame “absurd.”
“If anything stands out about the defendant’s conviction, it’s her complete failure to address her abusive behavior and her utter lack of remorse,” federal prosecutors said in their memo to the judge. “Instead of showing even a hint of acceptance of responsibility, the defendant makes a desperate attempt to blame wherever she can.”
Maxwell’s defense insisted at trial that the government’s case was based on the “false memories” of four prosecutors who, according to attorney Laura Menninger, “inserted” Maxwell into accounts that initially included only Epstein.
“The prosecutors’ memories … began to change,” Menninger said. “Truth has been manipulated and changed over time.”
The defense also argued that money brought the plaintiffs forward “with their personal injury lawyers next to them”. Menninger said each accuser took home millions, “and now they’re stuck with the stories they told.”
Prosecutors, whose case involved two dozen witnesses, said Maxwell “made the choice to sexually exploit countless underage girls” as part of a plan that ran from at least 1994 to 2004. Two women who testified said they were 14 when Epstein began to abuse them. , sometimes with Maxwell present or directly involved.
“She was personally involved in sexual abuse when she stroked Jane, Annie and Carolyn’s breasts. And she used her role as a supposedly respectable, glamorous, elderly woman to give these victims a false sense of security,” the prosecutors said.
This is a story in development. Come back for updates.