British woman Ghislaine Maxwell was sentenced on Tuesday to 20 years in prison in her New York sex-trafficking case for procuring teenage girls for Jeffrey Epstein to abuse.
Epstein, a convicted sex offender and financier whose elite associates once included Prince Andrew and Bill Clinton, was captured by federal authorities in July 2019, on sex-trafficking counts. He died by suicide in a New York City federal jail just over one month after his arrest.
Maxwell’s attorneys had pushed for leniency in sentencing, saying that she should receive “well below” the 20 years recommended by federal probation officials. Prosecutors pushed for a sentence of 30 to 55 years in prison.
Maxwell (60), a former British socialite who has maintained her innocence, was convicted on December 29th of five of the six charges she faced.
The jury came to their decision after 40 hours of deliberations spanning six days.
At the hearing on Tuesday, Maxwell apologised to her victims, saying she hopes her sentence will allow them “peace and finality”.
Maxwell said meeting Epstein was the “greatest regret of my life” and that she wanted to “acknowledge the suffering” of her victims.
There were four accusers in the trial: Jane, Kate and Carolyn, who did not use their full names during proceedings, as well as Annie Farmer.
Jane said that she was 14 in 1994 when Epstein began to sexually abuse her — and that sometimes Maxwell was present when he did so. Sometimes, Maxwell participated in this abuse, Jane testified. “There were hands everywhere,” Jane said of an incident with Epstein and Maxwell.
Kate said that she first met Maxwell in Paris around 1994, at 17. Maxwell asked Kate to tea at her London town house shortly thereafter, and then introduced the teenager to Epstein at a subsequent meeting.
A few weeks later, Maxwell telephoned Kate, and told her: “Jeffrey was meant to get a massage but the massage therapist had cancelled. Could I do her a favour and come over … because I had strong hands.”
Kate told jurors that Maxwell led her upstairs, where Epstein was in a robe. Maxwell shut the door, leaving Kate alone with Epstein. He initiated sexual contact with Kate. She saw him several times annually over the next few years.
Carolyn testified that she fell into Maxwell and Epstein’s abusive world around the early 2000s, when she was 14, at his Palm Beach mansion.
Carolyn said she travelled to Epstein’s house “over 100 times” between ages 14 and 18.
Ms Farmer testified that Maxwell gave her a nude massage when she was aged just 16 at Epstein’s sprawling New Mexico estate. She met Epstein in late 1995, when she went to visit her sister, Maria, in New York City. Maria was an artistic painter for Epstein.
Sentencing Maxwell to 20 years in prison, Judge Alison Nathan told the court Maxwell “repeatedly, and over the course of many years participated in a horrific scheme to traffic young girls, some the age of 14″.
She said it was important that although “Epstein was central to this scheme” she was not being sentenced “as a proxy” for him.
She added: “Whether you are rich or powerful, nobody is above the law.” — Guardian/PA