Ghislaine Maxwell Receives 20 Years for Aiding Epstein in Sex Trafficking
By: April Carson
Tuesday, Ghislaine Maxwell was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for running a decades-long plot with her longtime confidante Jeffrey Epstein to groom and sexually abuse underage girls.
Maxwell, 60, did not take the stand in her own defense during the trial that ended last December with her conviction on five counts, including sex trafficking of a minor. However, she spoke in court to the victims before sentence was handed down today.
"To those of you who spoke out, I will say that I am truly sorry for the pain that you have endured," Maxwell said. "I have read your statements and they have left a lasting impression on me."
"Before all of you, Jeffrey Epstein should have been here," Maxwell declared as she was escorted to the podium. "It's not about Jeffrey Epstein in the end. It's just about me being sentenced."
However, in a letter to The New York Times, Maxwell's former lover, Avi Lerner's ex-wife, maintained that she was not responsible for the crime.
"Ghislaine Maxwell is not a sex trafficker," said the woman, who wished to remain anonymous. "She didn't recruit anyone."
The sentencing brings an end to a criminal case that has transfixed the nation since Epstein's arrest in 2019. He was found dead in his jail cell in August of that year, leading many to believe that Maxwell was the only one who could provide answers to the many questions surrounding Epstein's illicit activities.
Jeffrey Epstein's associate Ghislaine Maxwell sits with her legal representative Christian Everdell during her sentencing hearing, which was illustrated in a courtroom sketch on June 28.
According to The Dallas Morning News, the judge gave a sentence of 15 years in prison. Prosecutors requested 30 to 55 years in prison for Maxwell, while the probation department suggested 20 years' imprisonment. Maxwell's attorneys asked for a sentence of between 4.25 and 5.25 years behind bars.
The details of this case are particularly tragic. However, while reflecting on the impact of his crime on Nick's family and friends, Judge Alison Nathan determined that the sentencing guidelines called for roughly 15½ to 19½ years in jail. She went above and beyond those parameters, noting Nick's devastated relatives' statements as well as Maxwell's "direct and repeated involvement in a despicable scheme."
"There is no 'Epstein' in place of Miss Maxwell," she explained. "For the role that she played, Miss Maxwell is being punished."
Nathan also claimed that Maxwell failed to accept responsibility for her actions or express remorse.
"The defendant's conduct was vastly more harmful than what the Guidelines countenance," Nathan said.
"Today's sentence will seek to acknowledge the damage that Ms. Maxwell has caused," Nathan went on.
In a case that spanned decades and illustrated the methods of the wealthy and powerful in evading -- or, at least, deferring -- responsibility for their actions, the 20-year sentence was a watershed moment.
Maxwell was sentenced to five years of supervised release and a $750,000 fine. Her attorney said she will be sent to a federal facility in Danbury, Connecticut, because she is unable to pay the fine.
Attorney General William Barr said that Epstein's death brings to a close the "criminally prolific" financier's lengthy criminal career. Epstein was indicted on federal sex trafficking charges in July 2019, but he killed himself behind bars in August 2019. Since her arrest in July 2020, Maxwell has spent 16 months in jail and received credit for two years of time served owing to legislation passed during her incarceration.
The sentence was praised by U.S. Attorney Damian Williams, who thanked the victims for testifying and acknowledged that they had been brave in doing so.
"Today's sentence holds Ghislaine Maxwell accountable for committing shocking abuses against children," he said. "This sentence sends a loud and clear message that no one is above the law, and justice can never be too late."
Bobbi Sternheim, defense attorney for Maxwell, said the defendant intended to appeal and that as she did during the trial, Epstein was laid at his feet.
"It's been a long time since anybody has seen him, but the public knows that the person who should have been sentenced today escaped responsibility, evaded his victims, and avoided taking on their suffering," Sternheim said. "Epstein fled with Ghislaine Maxwell holding the whole bag."
Four women spoke in court prior to the sentence, describing the long-term consequences of Maxwell's and Epstein's abuse. The judge permitted eight women to make victim impact statements either in writing or in person at sentencing, according to their demands.
Annie Farmer, one of the plaintiffs, asked the court to weigh Maxwell's conduct against its long-term consequences.
"Judge Nathan, I pray that when you decide on the appropriate jail term for Maxwell's participation in this sex trafficking scheme, you consider the continuing hurt caused to numerous women by her actions. I hope you take into account the systemic impacts of her crimes - the ways in which our family members, romantic partners, and friends have been harmed as a result of our anguish." She added. "I hope you look at how decades of crimes committed by one person are haunting us today."
Another woman, referred to as "Kate," said Maxwell's "ultimate insult" was her lack of remorse after being convicted. She described Maxwell as a "manipulative, cruel, and merciless individual" who might have prevented the abuse.
"You could have stopped the rapes, molestations, and sickening manipulations you planned, witnessed, and even participated in," Kate stated in court.
Another accuser, Sarah Ransome, who was not a part of this trial, stated that the years of abuse had a long-term impact on her life, including alcoholism and two suicide attempts.
"I frequently have flashbacks and wake up in a cold sweat from frightening recollections of the awful event," she continued.
After the trial, Farmer stated she was satisfied with the 20-year sentence and disputed Maxwell's apology.
"To me, her apology sounded insincere," she stated. "She didn't take responsibility for the crimes she'd committed, and it once more appeared to me that she was attempting to do something for herself rather than about the harm she'd caused."
She also stated that she was grateful to have the opportunity to make a statement in court.
"It was really empowering to finally have a voice on the record and to say the things I wanted to say about how her crimes had an impact on myself and the people I know and care about," Farmer added.
During the monthlong trial of Jeffrey Maxwell last year, it was alternated between horrible testimony from sexual abuse victims and intriguing information about some of Epstein's relationships with prominent celebrities.
In 2005, Maxwell and Epstein were arrested for a variety of sex-related crimes. They are alleged to have conspired to establish a scheme in which underage females would be lured into sexual relationships with Epstein between 1994 and 2004 in New York, Florida, New Mexico, and the US Virgin Islands. Four women testified during the trial that they were sexually exploited by Epstein; one said she had been abused by both Maxxwell and Epstein.
She claimed she was innocent, but the prosecution presented evidence that contradicted her statements. Her lawyers also blamed her for Epstein's actions, claiming she was a "scapegoat." The memories and motives of the women who claim to have been sexually assaulted were attacked by her defense.
The prosecution's case was largely based on the testimonies of four women.
Epstein's death in August 2019 while awaiting trial on federal sex trafficking charges left many questions unanswered. But it was clear that Maxwell had been central to his operation. The evidence presented at her trial showed that she recruited and groomed girls for Epstein, helped him sexually abuse them, and lied to protect him when he was facing charges in 2006 and 2008.
According to Jane, a pseudonym being used, Maxwell organized sexual massages with Epstein and sometimes participated in the abuse. The allegations of enticing - on which Maxwell was acquitted - and transporting are limited to her statements.
Carolyn, a woman who testified under the condition of anonymity, said Maxwell groped her breasts, hips, and buttocks when she was 14 years old and informed her that she had a "nice body for Epstein and his pals." The charge alleging child sex trafficking is based on her statements.
Max invited Kate over to his home, and he instructed her on how to give Epstein a sexual massage, according to Maxine. Maxwell spoke with Kate frequently about sexual subjects, as well as asking her to invite other young ladies for Epstein's personal pleasure.
The only accuser to testify by her full name, Farmer, said that she was 16 years old when Maxwell massaged her naked chest at Epstein's New Mexico ranch in 1996. Maxwell allegedly told Farmer that Epstein liked "young girls with big tits."
Maxwell's lawyers have said that the women's allegations are lies, motivated by money.
Despite the fact that she was found guilty of five counts, Maxwell was sentenced to three of them after the court decided that two of the conspiracy counts she faced were repetitious.
Ghislaine Maxwell's sentencing will close a chapter on the Epstein scandal, but it is unlikely to be the last we hear about it.
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April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on bossbabymav.com
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