Sex trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell sentenced to 20 years in prison

Ghislaine Maxwell on September 20, 2013 in New York City.
Laura Cavanaugh | Getty Images

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 a sentence that was less with the 30 to 55 years that federal prosecutors had been seeking for her “instrumental role in the horrific sexual abuse of multiple young teenage girls.”

Maxwell is the multimillionaire daughter of the late newspaper baron Robert Maxwell.

Prosecutors had sought the maximum allowable fine of $750,000.

Annie Farmer, the only one of Maxwell’s four accusers to testify under her full real name during the trial, was expected to address the court, along with several other women, after the sentence is imposed, said Farmer’s attorney, Sigrid McCawley.

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 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.

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Prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum filed last week in U.S. District Court for Southern New York 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,” the prosecutors 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 she grilled the juror, U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan denied the request.

“His failure to disclose his prior sexual abuse during the jury selection process was highly unfortunate, but not deliberate,” Nathan 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 almost two years ago, was removed from the general population at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Brooklyn.

Sternheim said Maxwell had been placed in solitary confinement on 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.

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