Ghislaine Maxwell gets 20 years in prison for sex trafficking

by Barbara R. Abercrombie
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Maxwell told the victims in court she was “sorry”, but the prosecution argued that Maxwell had shown an “utter lack of remorse.”

Ghislaine Maxwell was sentenced Tuesday to 20 years in prison for helping sex offender and world traveler financier Jeffrey Epstein sexually abuses teenage girls.

The British socialite, 60, was convicted in December of five charges, including trafficking a minor, for recruiting and grooming four girls for sexual encounters with her then-boyfriend Epstein between 1994 and 2004.

During her sentencing hearing in Manhattan federal court before hearing the sentence, Maxwell called Epstein a “manipulative, cunning and controlling man” who fooled everyone in his job. She said she was “sorry” for the pain his victims experienced.

“It is the biggest regret of my life that I have ever met Jeffrey Epstein,” said Maxwell.

When the sentence was imposed, US circuit judge Alison Nathan said Maxwell did not appear to show remorse or take responsibility.

“Maxwell has participated directly and repeatedly over many years in a horrific scheme to seduce, transport, and traffick underage girls, some as young as 14, for sexual abuse by and with Jeffrey Epstein,” Nathan said.

In often emotional and explicit testimony at the trial, Annie Farmer, a woman known as “Kate,” and two other women testified that Maxwell, who was found guilty on five counts, was a central figure in their abuse by Epstein.

At Tuesday’s hearing, Farmer, now a psychologist, said her experience of being exploited by Maxwell “resulted in considerable embarrassment,” sometimes making her feel like she wanted to “disappear.”

Kate said she was proud to hold Maxwell accountable.

“Today, I can look at Ghislaine and tell her that I have become what I am today despite her and her efforts to make me feel powerless and insignificant, and I will throw that empowerment on my daughter,” Kate said.

Ghislaine Maxwell

Maxwell’s month-long trial in late 2021 was widely seen as the reckoning Epstein — who committed suicide in 2019 at 66 in a Manhattan prison cell while awaiting his sex trafficking trial — never made.

It was one of the most notable cases in the wake of the #MeToo movement, which encouraged women to speak out about sexual abuse, often by the rich and powerful.

Maxwell’s lawyers had said she should have been sentenced to no more than 5-1/4 years because she would have become the scapegoat for Epstein’s crimes and had already spent much time in prison. Prosecutors had suggested that Maxwell be sentenced to 30 and 55 years behind bars.

“Mrs. Maxwell cannot and should not bear all the punishment for which Epstein should have been held responsible,” her lawyers argued.

But the prosecution claimed in its lawsuit last week that Maxwell was “an adult who made her own choices.”

They argued that she had shown an “utter lack of remorse” for her crimes between 1994 and 2004.

“Today’s conviction holds Ghislaine Maxwell responsible for committing heinous crimes against children,” said Damian Williams, the US attorney for the Southern District of New York.

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

Maxwell has been incarcerated for about two years after her arrest in New Hampshire in July 2020.

“Ghislaine should die in prison,” Maxwell and Epstein prosecutor Sarah Ransome told reporters outside the court.

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