In a long scheme to seduce and sexually assault minors, Ghislaine Maxwell and her close confidant Jeffrey Epstein were sentenced to 20 years in federal prison on Tuesday.
Maxwell, 60, did not give a defence witness during the trial that concluded in her conviction on five counts, including trafficking in minors in sex, late last year. But on Tuesday, she addressed the victims in court before the verdict was announced.
Maxwell stood at the stage, her legs shackled. “Jeffrey Epstein should have been here before all of you,” she said. “In the end, it is not about Epstein. I will be sentenced, after all.”
Epstein’s ex-girlfriend Maxwell admitted she was convicted in the sex trafficking conspiracy but refrained from accepting blame.
Maxwell remarked, “I’m sorry for the sorrow you’ve gone through. “I hope that my conviction gives you some peace.”
Maxwell’s sentence had been requested by the prosecution to be 30 to 55 years in jail, while the probation office had suggested 20 years. The defense team for Maxwell asked for a sentence that ranged from 4.25 to 5.25 years in jail.
Maxwell, according to Nathan, did not express regret or accept responsibility for her part in the crimes.
Today’s punishment, according to Nathan, “will try to acknowledge the pain that Ms. Maxwell has inflicted.”
The 20-year sentence marks a turning point in an international sex trafficking case that spanned decades and served as an example of how the wealthy and powerful may postpone — or even completely dodge — the consequences of their conduct.
Additionally, Maxwell was given a five-year period of supervised release and a $750,000 fine, which according to her lawyer, she is unable to pay. She will be transported to a federal prison in Danbury, Connecticut, the judge declared.
Epstein, who had previously pled guilty to state prostitution charges in 2008, was charged with federal sex trafficking in July 2019, but he took his own life in jail one month later. Since her arrest in July 2020, Maxwell has been in jail, and according to the prosecution, she has been given credit for two years of time served.
Damian Williams, the US Attorney, applauded the verdict and thanked the witnesses for coming forward.
He noted that the punishment handed down today “makes Ghislaine Maxwell accountable for committing horrible crimes against children.” It is strongly implied by this sentence that no one is above the law and that justice can always be served.
Maxwell, like she did during the trial, shifted the blame to Epstein, according to defense attorney Bobbi Sternheim, who also said Maxwell intended to appeal the conviction.
Sternheim added, “We all know that the person who should have been sentenced today escaped accountability, avoided his victims, avoided feeling their suffering, and avoided getting the penalty he truly deserved. Ghislaine Maxwell was left with the entire bag by Jeffrey Epstein.
Four women testified in court before the verdict to discuss the long-term consequences of Maxwell and Epstein’s abuse. The judge agreed to eight women’s requests to present written or in-person victim impact statements during the sentencing hearing.
One of the victims, Annie Farmer, requested that the judge take into account the long-term repercussions of Maxwell’s actions on her victims.
Maxwell’s “last insult,” according to a different victim only known as “Kate,” was her lack of regret following her conviction. She claimed that Maxwell was “a cunning, nasty, and merciless person” who had the power to put an end to the abuse.
Kate testified in court, “You could have stopped the rapes, the molestations, the horrible manipulations that you planned, observed, and even participated in.”
Another accuser, Sarah Ransome, who was not present at the trial, spoke to the court about the effects of the abuse on her, claiming she had alcoholism and had made two suicide attempts.
She claimed, “I frequently have flashbacks and wake up in a cold sweat from dreams remembering the horrible experience.
Following the sentencing, Farmer expressed her satisfaction with the 20-year sentence and her disbelief in Maxwell’s apologies.
She remarked, “Her response felt like a really insincere apology to me. She did not accept responsibility for her misdeeds, and it appeared that she was just thinking about her own interests and not at all about the devastation she had caused.
She added that she was grateful for the chance to speak in court.
To finally have the opportunity to speak, have my voice recorded, and say the things I wanted to about how her crimes impacted me and the people I know and care about, Farmer said, “It actually felt very powerful.”
Here is what happened at the trial
In Maxwell’s month-long trial last year, harrowing testimony from victims of sexual abuse mingled with revealing testimony about some of Epstein’s links to prominent figures in the entertainment industry.
Maxwell and Epstein, according to the prosecution, planned a strategy between 1994 and 2004 in New York, Florida, New Mexico, and the US Virgin Islands to entice young girls into sexual connections with Epstein. During the trial, four women testified that Epstein had assaulted them and that Maxwell had sometimes assisted the abuse and other times taken part in it.
In the meantime, her defence criticised the memory and motives of the women who claim they were sexually assaulted and claimed she was being used as a “scapegoat” for Epstein’s actions.
The evidence of the four ladies formed the bulk of the prosecution’s case.
Under the alias Jane, she testified that Maxwell planned sexual massages for Epstein and occasionally participated in the assault. The allegations of enticing—for which Maxwell was found not guilty—and transporting concern just her testimony.
When Carolyn was 14 years old, Maxwell massaged her breasts, hips, and buttocks and told her she “had a fantastic body for Epstein and his buddies,” Carolyn stated in court using only her first name. Her testimony is related to the charge of child sex trafficking, which is the most serious of all the counts.
Kate said that Maxwell asked her over and gave her instructions on how to massage Epstein sexually. She claimed that Maxwell frequently broached sexual subjects with her and requested Kate to invite other young girls to Epstein’s bedroom.
Farmer, the lone accuser to reveal her full name in court, claimed that in 1996 at Epstein’s ranch in New Mexico, Maxwell massaged her bare chest while she was 16 years old.
Maxwell was found guilty on five counts, but the judge decided that two of the conspiracy counts she was facing were redundant, thus she was only punished on three.