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Sex trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell sentenced to 20 years in prison

Maxwell, 60, was convicted in December of five federal charges for recruiting and grooming teenage girls to be sexually abused by Jeffrey Epstein.
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Convicted sex trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell was sentenced Tuesday to 20 years in prison for recruiting and grooming teenage girls to be sexually abused by Jeffrey Epstein.

Maxwell, 60, a British socialite, was slapped with the penalty for her “instrumental role in the horrific sexual abuse of multiple young teenage girls.”

In addition, she was sentenced to five years of supervised release once she gets out of prison and ordered to pay a $750,000 fine.  

Before she was sentenced, Maxwell addressed the court for the first time, telling the victims present in the courtroom that she was "sorry for the pain you have experienced.”

“I also want to acknowledge I have been convicted with helping Jeffrey Epstein with his crimes,” she said. “It is the greatest regret of my life that I ever met Jeffrey Epstein.”

But U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan for the Southern District of New York said Maxwell "directly and repeatedly, and over the course of many years, was involved in a horrific scheme."

“Ms. Maxwell today acknowledged the courage of the victims, talked about the pain and anguish they expressed, to some extent acknowledged the pain and suffering,” she said. “What wasn’t expressed was acceptance of responsibility.”

Then Nathan hit Maxwell, the multimillionaire daughter of the late newspaper baron Robert Maxwell, with the 240-month sentence.

Before that, Annie Farmer, the only one of Maxwell’s four accusers to testify under her full real name during the trial, and several other victims, addressed the court.

“We all felt powerless," Farmer said while Maxwell, dressed in a blue prison top, avoided her eyes.

Another victim, who was identified only as Kate, said Maxwell’s lack of remorse or acknowledgment of her behavior “is the final insult.”

“She doesn’t think what she did was wrong," Kate said. "She is not sorry.”

Ghislaine Maxwell attends a press conference on the Issue of Oceans in Sustainable Development Goals, at United Nations headquarters on June 25, 2013.
Ghislaine Maxwell attends a press conference on the Issue of Oceans in Sustainable Development Goals, at the United Nations headquarters June 25, 2013.Rick Bajornas / AP file

The sentencing closed a chapter in the salacious saga of Epstein, a once-powerful financier whose friends and contacts included powerful men from former Presidents Donald Trump and Bill Clinton to Britain’s Prince Andrew — and who escaped justice by hanging himself in 2019 in a Manhattan federal prison cell while he awaited trial on sex trafficking charges.

Maxwell's sentence was lower than the 30 to 55 years that federal prosecutors had been seeking. Nevertheless, they sounded satisfied.

“Today’s sentence holds Ghislaine Maxwell accountable for perpetrating heinous crimes against children," U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement released after the proceeding. "This sentence sends a strong message that no one is above the law and it is never too late for justice."

Maxwell, who stared straight ahead when Nathan imposed her sentence, took a sip of water while sitting at the defense table before she was led out of the courtroom by the two female marshals who have been in charge of her security throughout the trial.

Her lawyers have vowed to appeal her conviction.

Maxwell, Epstein's confidant, was convicted in December of five federal sex trafficking charges after a three-week trial during which defense attorneys tried and failed to convince the jury that the chief reason prosecutors went after her was that they could no longer go after Epstein.

Prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum filed last week that Maxwell enjoyed “a life of extraordinary luxury and privilege” while she engaged in a “disturbing agreement” with Epstein.

“Instead of showing even a hint of acceptance of responsibility, the defendant makes a desperate attempt to cast blame wherever else she can,” they added.

Her attempts to “cast aspersions on the Government for prosecuting her, and her claim that she is being held responsible for Epstein’s crimes, are both absurd and offensive,” they wrote in response to assertions by Maxwell’s attorneys at trial and in a bail application, a sentencing memorandum and other documents that followed.

Maxwell has been behind bars since she was arrested in July 2020.

Her attorneys filed a formal request for a retrial in January after they raised concerns about a juror’s possible failure to disclose that he was sexually abused as a child.

After Nathan grilled the juror, she denied the request.

“His failure to disclose his prior sexual abuse during the jury selection process was highly unfortunate, but not deliberate,” the judge wrote.

Nathan said the juror had no bias against Maxwell and was able to serve impartially.

Then, on Saturday, Maxwell’s lawyer Bobbi Sternheim reported in a letter to Nathan that her client, who has been on a suicide watch since she was arrested, was removed from the general population at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, New York.

Sternheim said Maxwell had been placed in solitary confinement Friday “without justification” and asserted in bold type that she “is not suicidal.”

“If Ms. Maxwell remains on suicide watch, is prohibited from reviewing legal materials prior to sentencing, becomes sleep deprived, and is denied sufficient time to meet with and confer with counsel, we will be formally moving on Monday for an adjournment,” Sternheim wrote.

Maxwell also attempted to plead for leniency by claiming she had been a positive influence on other inmates by offering to teach them yoga.