Ghislaine Maxwell has been given a 20 year sentence for her role in helping Jeffrey Epstein to sexually abuse teenage girls, with the judge describing her behaviour as “heinous and predatory.”
Maxwell was found guilty in late 2021 of five out of six charges of sex trafficking. Prosecutors had described Mawell as “shockingly predatory” and had pushed for a 30 year sentence.
Maxwell’s lawyers meanwhile wanted the Manhattan federal court to take into account the time she’d already spent in prison (Mawell has been been refused bail since July 2020) and claimed she had been the scapegoat for the behaviour of Epstein, who suicided in his prison cell in 2019 and never had his own sex trafficking trial.
Maxwell had told the court prior to sentencing that she was sorry for the pain Epstein’s victims had experienced, and that “it is the greatest regret of my life that I ever met Jeffrey Epstein.”
She described the sex offender who had partied with some of the world’s most influential men, as a “manipulative, cunning and controlling man”.
US Circuit Judge Alison Nathan said that Maxwell did not appear to have accepted responsibility or express remorse for her role.
“Maxwell directly and repeatedly and over the course of many years participated in a horrific scheme to entice, transport and traffic underage girls, some as young as 14, for sexual abuse by and with Jeffrey Epstein,” the judge said.
She said that Maxwell helped Epstein to select young victims who were vulnerable. “She provided a veneer of responsibility, she earned their trust” and that the sentence “must reflect the severity of her crimes” which had long-lasting impact on victims.
Four women testified during the trial, highlighting how Maxwell was key in the abuse they experienced from Epstein.
Maxwell had been known as a “British socialiate” and lived a high-profile life of luxury throughout the 1980s. Born in France, she was raised in Oxford UK and worked with her media mogul father until 1991, when he died suddenly and mysteriously in Spain. Her father’s death ultimately led to the collapse of his media empire and the bankruptcy of his children — something Maxwell’s lawyer’s had asked the judge to take into account. Maxwell moved to New York in the 1990s, where she ultimately joined the city’s own social scene and met Epstein.