NEW YORK — Ghislaine Maxwell has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for helping the wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein sexually abuse teenage girls. After a lengthy prosecution, Tuesday’s sentence was the result of which Epstein & Maxwell had been accused of using their connections and wealth to exploit vulnerable girls.
Those crimes occurred even as the couple hobnobbed with some of the world’s most famous and wealthy people, including former U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton and Donald Trump and England’s Prince Andrew. Epstein was in prison for his own suicide while awaiting trial. Maxwell denied being Epstein’s accomplice.
THIS IS BREAKING NEWS. AP’s earlier story follows below.
NEW YORK — Ghislaine Maxwell, the jet-setting socialite who once consorted with royals, presidents and billionaires, was brought into a New York courtroom Tuesday in a prison uniform and with her ankles shackled to await her sentence for helping the financier Jeffrey Epstein sexually abuse underage girls.
Continue reading: What to Know About Ghislaine Maxwell, the U.K. Socialite Who Became Jeffrey Epstein’s Confidante
U.S. District judge Alison J. Nathan decided that Maxwell, 60 years old, will receive a sentence between 15 1/2 to 19 1/2 years imprisonment under the federal sentencing guidance. That’s roughly half of federal prosecutors’ 30- to 55 year terms. The defense attorneys would prefer a 5-year sentence.
New York’s sentencing was part of an extensive prosecution in which the couple were accused of exploiting vulnerable teenage girls by using their wealth and connections.
Prosecutors said Epstein, who killed himself in 2019 while awaiting trial, sexually abused children hundreds of times over more than a decade, and couldn’t have done so without the help of Maxwell, his longtime companion and onetime girlfriend. Maxwell was convicted by a jury of sexual trafficking and transporting an underage girl to engage in illegal sex acts. He also faces two conspiracy charges.
Maxwell, wearing a blue prison uniform and a white mask to conform with coronavirus rules, sat quietly, looking ahead as Assistant U.S. Attorney Alison Moe recounted how Maxwell subjected girls to “horrifying nightmares” by taking them to Epstein.
“They were partners in crime together and they molested these kids together,” she said, calling Maxwell “a person who was indifferent to the suffering of other human beings.”
When she had a chance to speak, Maxwell said she empathized with the survivors and that it was her “greatest regret of my life that I ever met Jeffrey Epstein.” Maxwell called him “a manipulative, cunning and controlling man who lived a profoundly compartmentalized life,” echoing her defense attorneys’ assertions, in court filings calling for a lenient sentence, that Epstein was the true mastermind.
Maxwell, who denies abusing anyone, said she hoped that her conviction and her “unusual incarceration” bring some “measure of peace and finality.”
Several survivors described their sexual abuse, including Annie Farmer, whose voice cracked several times as she said “we will continue to live with the harm she caused us.”
Continue reading: 23 of Jeffrey Epstein’s Accusers Finally Got Their Day in Court. Here’s What They Said
Farmer stated that Maxwell’s sister and Farmer tried to publish their story about Epstein two decades ago but were prevented by threats from the authorities.
Maxwell looked down and scribbled on a notepad as Sarah Ransome — an accuser whose allegations weren’t included in this trial — spoke of the lasting harm to her life, gazing directly at Maxwell several times .
Ransome, who twice tried to die by suicide, finally drew a look from Maxwell when she said: “You broke me in unfathomable ways but you did not break my spirit.”
Inside the crowded courtroom, three of Maxwell’s siblings sat in a row behind her. The majority of those in attendance were media personnel.
Epstein and Maxwell’s associations with some of the world’s most famous people were not a prominent part of the trial, but mentions of friends like Bill Clinton, Donald Trump and Britain’s Prince Andrew showed how the pair exploited their connections to impress their prey.
Hundreds of women accused Epstein, over the 17-year period, of sexual abuse. Maxwell, according to many, was a madam that recruited the women to provide massages for Epstein.
However, the trial was centered on allegations made by a few of these women.
Four testified that they were abused as teens in the 1990s and early 2000s at Epstein’s mansions in Florida, New York, New Mexico and the Virgin Islands.
In court, they were identified only by first names, or pseudonyms, to preserve their privacy. Jane was a television actress and Kate was an ex model from the U.K., while Carolyn is now recovering from drug addiction. Farmer was the fourth accuser. She is the only one to be identified in court using her actual name after she has spoken out publicly.
The couple described Maxwell’s charm and generosity. They also shared their stories of how Epstein promised to fulfill their hopes and help them realize their goals through his connections and wealth.
They testified that Epstein was then led to them giving her massages, which turned sexual, and they played it off as normal.
Carolyn testified that she was one of several underprivileged teens who lived near Epstein’s Florida home in the early 2000s and took up an offer to massage him in exchange for $100 bills in what prosecutors described as “a pyramid of abuse.”
Carolyn said Maxwell was responsible for all arrangements even though Maxwell knew that the girl was just 14 years old at the time.
Epstein’s allegations were first made public in 2005. In Florida, he pleaded guilty and spent 13 months behind bars. Much of this time was in a work release program that was criticised for its leniency. He was then required to register as an sex offenders.
Many women brought lawsuits against Epstein for the alleged abuse in the years to come. Virginia Giuffre claimed Epstein and Maxwell pressured her to have sex with powerful men including Prince Andrew. The allegations were denied by all of the men and Giuffre settled the lawsuit against Andrew outside of court.
After stories in the Miami Herald 2018 that brought attention to Epstein’s crimes, federal prosecutors in New York reopened the Epstein case. After being arrested in 2019, Epstein committed suicide one month later.
Maxwell was detained at an estate in New Hampshire eleven months later. She is a U.S. citizen as well as a British and French citizen. Since then, Maxwell has been held in New York City’s federal prison. Her lawyers have repeatedly criticised her treatment. They claim that she was placed on suicide watch for days prior to her sentencing. Prosecutors claim that Maxwell is treated differently than other prisoners and exaggerate the allegations about the jail.
Her lawyers also attempted to overturn her conviction on the ground of misconduct by jurors. Days after the verdict, one juror gave media interviews in which he disclosed he had been sexually abused as a child — something he hadn’t told the court during jury selection. Maxwell’s lawyers said she deserved a new trial. A judge disagreed.
Eight women sent letters detailing the abuses they suffered for meeting Maxwell or Epstein. Six of Maxwell’s seven living siblings wrote to plead for leniency. Maxwell’s fellow inmate also submitted a letter describing how Maxwell has helped to educate other inmates over the last two years.
Anne Holve, Philip Maxwell and her oldest siblings wrote that Epstein’s relationship began shortly after their father Robert Maxwell died in 1991.
They said Robert Maxwell had subjected his daughter to “frequent rapid mood swings, huge rages and rejections.”
“This led her to becoming very vulnerable to abusive and powerful men who would be able to take advantage of her innate good nature,” they wrote.
Prosecutors called Maxwell’s shifting of blame to Epstein “absurd and offensive.”
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