Ghislaine Maxwell sentenced to 20 years in jail for sex crimes

Prosecutors had asked that Maxwell receive between 30 and 55 years in jail.

LAST UPDATE | Jun 28th 2022, 8:00 PM

GHISLAINE MAXWELL HAS been sentenced to 20 years in prison by a US judge today for helping the late disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein sexually abuse girls.

The term, handed down in the Manhattan federal court, means the 60-year-old former socialite will spend much of the rest of her life in jail. 

The daughter of the late British press baron Robert Maxwell was convicted late last year on five of six counts, the most serious for sex trafficking minors.

Damian Williams, the US attorney for the Southern District of New York, said that the sentence “holds Ghislaine Maxwell accountable for perpetrating heinous crimes against children”.

“This sentence sends a strong message that no one is above the law and it is never too late for justice,” Williams said.

Maxwell’s lawyers had argued for leniency, citing a traumatic childhood and claiming that she was being unfairly punished because Epstein escaped trial.

They called for Judge Nathan to hand down a sentence less than the US probation office’s recommended 20 years.

Meanwhile prosecutors had asked that Maxwell receive between 30 and 55 years in jail, arguing that she has shown an “utter lack of remorse” for her crimes, committed between 1994 and 2004.

But the judge hinted that she was set to issue a shorter term, telling the court that the guidelines put the range of sentence between 15 and a half and 19-and-a-half years.

During Maxwell’s high-profile trial in late 2021, the prosecutors successfully proved that she was “the key” to Epstein’s scheme of enticing young girls to give him massages, during which he would sexually abuse them.

Two of Epstein’s victims, identified as “Jane” and “Carolyn,” testified that they were as young as 14 when Maxwell began grooming them.

Maxwell’s lawyers say their client had “a difficult, traumatic childhood with an overbearing, narcissistic, and demanding father.”

“It made her vulnerable to Epstein, whom she met right after her father’s death,” they wrote in submissions filed earlier this month.

Money manager Epstein killed himself in prison 2019 aged 66 while awaiting his own sex crimes trial in New York.

“Ms Maxwell cannot and should not bear all the punishment for which Epstein should have been held responsible,” her attorneys pleaded.

The prosecution contended in its own court filing last week that Maxwell “was an adult who made her own choices”.

“She made the choice to conspire with Epstein for years, working as partners in crime and causing devastating harm to vulnerable victims,” wrote Damian Williams, the US attorney for the Southern District of New York.

Maxwell has already been held in detention for some two years following her arrest in New Hampshire in the summer of 2020.

“Ghislaine must die in prison,” Maxwell and Epstein accuser Sarah Ransome told reporters outside court.

Maxwell’s sentencing caps a dramatic fall for the former international jetsetter who grew up in wealth and privilege as a friend to royalty.

Her circle included Britain’s Prince Andrew, who settled a sexual abuse lawsuit in February with Virginia Giuffre.

Giuffre said she had been trafficked to the royal by Epstein and Maxwell.

In April, Judge Nathan rejected a request by Maxwell for a new trial after she unsuccessfully argued that a juror, who had boasted of helping convince fellow panelists to convict Maxwell by recalling his own experiences as a sex abuse victim, had biased the jury.

© AFP 2022