US government urges appeals court to uphold Ghislaine Maxwell conviction and prison sentence

Maxwell convicted of recruiting and grooming four girls for deceased billionaire Jeffrey Epstein to sexually abuse between 1994 and 2004

The United States government has urged an appeals court to uphold Ghislaine Maxwell’s conviction and 20-year prison sentence for helping the disgraced late financier Jeffrey Epstein sexually abuse teenage girls.

In a Thursday night filing with the 2nd US circuit court of appeals in Manhattan, federal prosecutors said none of Maxwell’s legal arguments about the fairness of her trial undermined their case, or justified a dismissal or new trial.

“The government’s evidence at trial established that over the course of a decade, Maxwell facilitated and participated in the sexual abuse of multiple young girls,” prosecutors said.

Arthur Aidala, a lawyer for Maxwell, had no immediate comment.


Maxwell (61) is behind bars in Tallahassee, Florida, after a Manhattan jury convicted her in December 2021 on five charges for recruiting and grooming four girls for Epstein to abuse between 1994 and 2004.

Her accusers have said she and Epstein at first made them feel welcome in their orbit, before Epstein began demanding sexualised massages. Hundreds of women have said he abused them.

In her appeal, Maxwell, daughter of late British media mogul Robert Maxwell, accused prosecutors of making her a scapegoat because Epstein was dead and “public outrage” demanded that someone else absorb the blame.

Prosecutors rejected her claims that they waited too long to bring charges, and that Epstein's 2007 non-prosecution agreement arising from alleged abuse at his Palm Beach, Florida mansion also immunised her.

They also said the trial judge had discretion to conclude that Maxwell’s jury was fair and impartial, though one juror failed to disclose during pretrial questioning that he had been sexually abused as a child.

“This case does not present the extraordinary circumstances that justify overturning a jury's verdict based on an error during voir dire,” prosecutors said.

Epstein committed suicide at age 66 in August 2019 in a Manhattan jail cell, while awaiting trial for sex trafficking.

Others who were friendly with him have seen their reputations tarred or ruined, among them Britain's Prince Andrew and former JPMorgan Chase executive and Barclays chief executive Jes Staley.

JPMorgan and Deutsche Bank, which both had Epstein as a client, are paying a combined $365 million to Epstein’s accusers over their work for him. The US Virgin Islands, where Epstein had a home, is also suing JPMorgan.

Maxwell is eligible for release in July 2037, with credit for good behaviour and the two years she spent in jail before being imprisoned. – Reuters