Jeffrey Epstein’s former partner, Ghislaine Maxwell, has been convicted of charges including sex trafficking of minors.
Ghislaine Maxwell Maxwell was told ‘no one is above the law’ when she was sentenced to 20 years in prison for luring young girls into massage rooms for Jeffrey Epstein to abuse them.
During her sentencing hearing, Maxwell apologized to the victims for the pain they had endured – but one of the women said afterwards that her testimony “felt hollow”.
The 60-year-old, who was deemed “dangerous” by prosecutors during her three-week trial last year, helped lure at-risk teenagers into Epstein’s various possessions between 1994 and 2004 so they could sexually abuse him.
The socialite was convicted in December last year of sex trafficking of minors, conspiracy to trick a minor into traveling to engage in illegal sexual activity and conspiracy to transport a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity to participate, found guilty.
She was also found guilty of transporting a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity and underage sex trafficking conspiracies.
What happened during the hearing?
Before her sentencing hearing on Tuesday, Maxwell arrived with shackles around her ankles, which rattled as she walked to her seat in the courtroom in New York’s Southern Circuit.
She wore a prison uniform and only spoke to confirm that she had read the prejudice report and discussed it with her legal team. She said, “I had the opportunity to read it.”
Maxwell was labeled “dangerous” by prosecutors during their three-week trial last year and helped lure vulnerable teenagers into the disgraced financier’s various possessions for him to sexually abuse.
Maxwell’s defense attorneys sought a delay in the criminal case through a motion filed Saturday, saying she had been placed on “suicide watch” and was “not permitted to possess and review legal documents.”
Her lawyers had also previously requested a retrial after it emerged that one of the jurors at her trial had failed to disclose that he was a sexual abuse victim, but her conviction was upheld.
Although not part of the indictment, the Duke of York’s prosecutor Virginia Giuffre’s victim testimony was read in court, where she says Maxwell “opened the door to hell.”
Andrew has always vigorously denied Ms Giuffre’s allegations.
Others, Annie Farmer and Kate, read statements to the court, while five others were told they could only submit them in writing.
Prosecutor Alison Moe asked Judge Alison Nathan to sentence Maxwell to an aforementioned “decades” guidance for her “essential” role in the abuse of many of Jeffrey Epstein’s victims.
Ms Moe asked Judge Nathan to take a “steadfast look” at Maxwell and the magnitude of her crimes.
“Their victims were vulnerable children who found themselves alone in huge mansions, exploited by adults who they thought would help them,” she said.
She added that Maxwell’s actions were not “a one-time thing,” but that she made the decisions to abuse her victims “week after week.”
Did Maxwell apologize?
Maxwell apologized to the victims and said she hopes her verdict will bring them “peace and finality.”
The British socialite said meeting Jeffrey Epstein was the “biggest regret of my life” and that she wanted to “acknowledge the suffering” of her victims.
“I know my association with Epstein will follow and stain me forever,” she said in court just before the sentencing hearing. “It is the biggest regret of my life that I ever met Jeffrey Epstein.”
Addressing her victims directly, she said: “For you, all the victims who have come in and out of court today… I am sorry for the pain you have experienced.
“I hope my sentence…brings you closure…peace and finality. To help you place those experiences in a place that takes you further.”
Maxwell said knowing the ramifications of her crimes “torments me every day” and that she hopes the phrase “brings this horrible chapter to a close and … helps you journey out of the darkness into the light.”
What did the victims say?
Annie Farmer, the only victim of the indictment who testified under her full name at the trial, spoke first.
Maxwell chose not to look at Ms. Farmer for the entire duration of her testimony, instead looking straight ahead and taking occasional sips of her drink.
Ms. Farmer had to pause mid-speech to contain her emotions, but continued to read her testimony in full in court.
Speaking in court afterwards, Ms Farmer said it felt “very powerful” to testify.
Ghislaine Maxwell’s British prosecutor, who testified at the trial under the pseudonym “Kate”, chose to read a different speech than the one she had submitted in writing.
At Tuesday’s hearing, she said: “Ghislaine’s lack of remorse and blatant refusal to accept responsibility for her crimes against us is her ultimate insult.
“Someone who even had a difficult or abusive father does not condone underage sex trafficking.
“A lack of remorse or responsibility from Ghislaine is exactly what tells us that she doesn’t believe what she did was wrong.
“She’s not sorry and would do it again.”
What did the judge say?
Throughout the trial, the court heard how she imposed a “culture of silence…deliberately” on Epstein’s properties, instructing employees to “see nothing, hear nothing, and say nothing.”
The sentencing judge in Ghislaine Maxwell’s case has told the court that the British socialite is “regularly involved in a pattern of prohibited sexual activity”.
Judge Alison Nathan said Maxwell’s sentence will be increased because of her “supervising role in extensive criminal activity.”
The judge also ruled that the Duke of York’s accuser, Virginia Giuffre, should also be considered a minor victim of the conspiracy, although she was not named in the indictment.
After considering a number of aggravating factors in the case, Judge Nathan said the guidelines would sentence the case to between 188 months and 235 months in prison.
Judge Alison Nathan sentenced Ghislaine Maxwell to 20 years in prison, telling the court she “repeatedly and over the course of many years took part in a horrific plot to traffic in young girls as young as 14”.
Judge Nathan said it was important that while “Epstein was central to this scheme,” she was not sentenced “as a proxy” for him.
She said: “The conduct of the defendant … was despicable and predatory.
“Ms. Maxwell worked with Epstein to select young victims who were at risk and played critical roles in facilitating the sexual abuse.”
The judge said Ghislaine Maxwell’s victims were forced to live through the “painful, horrifying and enduring effects of this trauma”.
Judge Nathan continued, “Those who engage in and encourage sexual abuse will be held accountable by the law.
“Whether you are rich or powerful, no one is above the law.”
What was said after the hearing?
Speaking on behalf of Annie Farmer, attorney Sigrid McCauley said, “Today was an outstanding day for justice.”
Of Maxwell’s apology, she said, “It was not an apology, she did not acknowledge her crimes.”
While Annie Farmer said, “Your statement felt like it was a very hollow apology for me.”
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