Content Warning: This article discusses Child Sexual Abuse (CSA).
Ghislaine Maxwell has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for recruiting and grooming four teenage girls who were sexually abused by her then-boyfriend Jeffrey Epstein.
At her sentencing hearing in Manhattan federal court, the 60-year-old showed no emotion as she was sentenced early Wednesday (Australia time).
Before learning the sentence, four of the survivors read out victim impact statements, describing the abuse they faced at the hands of Maxwell and Epstein, as well as the long term emotional impacts they have experienced as a result.
“For a long time I wanted to erase from my mind the crimes that Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell committed against me … but I’ve had to acknowledge the long-lasting effects,” Annie Farmer, the fourth victim to take the stand, said, breaking into tears during her statement.
“One of the most painful and ongoing impacts of Maxwell and Epstein’s abuse was the loss of trust in myself.”
Sarah Ransome, Elizabeth Stein, and the accuser known as “Kate” also shared their statements, while the attorney for Virginia Giuffre read out her statement in court.
Standing up at a Plexiglass-enclosed lectern, Maxwell described Epstein as a “manipulative, cunning and controlling man” who fooled everyone around him and said she was “sorry” for the pain his victims experienced.
“It is my greatest regret of my life that I ever met Jeffrey Epstein,” she said.
“I also acknowledge that I have been convicted of helping Jeffrey Epstein commit these crimes.
“And despite the many helpful and positive things I have done in my life and will continue to do … I know that my association with Epstein and this case will permanently stain me.”
However, she attempted to shift the blame onto Epstein, emphasising that he “should have been here before all of you”, echoing arguments her lawyers made that she had been scapegoated for Epstein’s crimes.
This is despite her involvement as the person to introduce the victims to Epstein and statements from victims describing her abusing them as well.
During sentencing, US Circuit Judge Alisan Nathan said Maxwell didn’t appear to express remorse or take responsibility for her actions.
“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,” Judge Nathan said.
“The damage done to these young girls was incalculable.”
The sentencing comes after Maxwell was convicted of five of six charges laid against her in December 2021, which followed a month-long trial and 40 hours of deliberation by jurors.
Maxwell was convicted of:
- sex trafficking,
- conspiracy to entice individuals under the age of 17 to travel in interstate commerce with intent to engage in illegal sexual activity,
- conspiracy to transport individuals under the age of 17 to travel in interstate commerce with intent to engage in illegal sexual activity,
- Transportation of an individual under the age of 17 with the intent to engage in illegal sexual activity, and,
- Conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of individuals under the age of 18.
Prosecutors last week called Maxwell’s conduct “shockingly predatory” and said she deserved to spend at least 30 years behind bars, based on their interpretation of sentencing guidelines.
Maxwell’s lawyers argued that she should be sentenced for no more than five and one-quarter years, due to her being scapegoated and the time she has already spent in prison since her arrest in July 2020.
However, her official sentence is far lower than the maximum possible sentence of 55 years that she could have received.
Judge Nathan calculated that the sentencing guidelines called for 15.5 to 19.5 years in prison, but delivered a higher sentence due to the victims’ disturbing testimony and Maxwell’s “direct and repeated participation in a horrific scheme”.
“Miss Maxwell is not punished in place of Epstein,” she said.
“Miss Maxwell is being punished for the role that she played.”
Image: Getty Images
This article first appeared on OverSixty.