Ghislaine Maxwell sentenced to 20 years in Jeffrey Epstein sexual abuse case

NEW YORK — A judge sentenced British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell to serve 20 years in prison on Tuesday after a jury convicted her late last year of helping to recruit young girls for sexual abuse by the late financier Jeffrey Epstein.

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Update 3:10 p.m. EDT June 28: In addition to a 20-year sentence, U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan also imposed a $750,000 fine for Maxwell, The Associated Press reported.

In court, Maxwell said she empathized with those victimized by Epstein, who she called “a manipulative, cunning and controlling man who lived a profoundly compartmentalized life,” according to the AP.

Maxwell’s attorney asked that she be sent to a Bureau of Prison’s woman’s facility in Connecticut and enrolled in a treatment program aimed at addressing past familial and other trauma, The New York Times reported. Nathan said she’d recommend as much to the BOP, though ultimately the decision will be up to agency officials, according to the newspaper.

Update 2:40 p.m. EDT June 28: Prosecutors praised the sentence handed down Tuesday, although it fell below the 30-year minimum sentence they had requested.

“Today’s sentence holds Ghislaine Maxwell accountable for perpetrating heinous crimes against children,” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement. “This sentence sends a strong message that no one is above the law and it is never too late for justice.”

Update 2:31 p.m. EDT June 28: U.S. District Court Judge Alison Nathan on Tuesday sentenced Maxwell to serve 20 years in prison for charges including sex trafficking of a minor, according to The New York Times and The Associated Press.

Speaking before delivering the sentence, Nathan emphasized that Maxwell was “not being punished in place of Epstein or as a proxy for Epstein,” according to the Times.

“Ms. Maxwell directly and repeatedly and over the course of many years participated in a horrific scheme” to traffic and abuse girls as young as 14, Nathan said, the Times reported. She added that Maxwell and Epstein worked together to target “young victims who were vulnerable.”

Update 1 p.m. EDT June 28: U.S. District Court Judge Alison Nathan on Tuesday ruled that federal guidelines call for Maxwell to face a sentence of 15 to 19 years imprisonment, The New York Times reported. The newspaper noted that the range is not binding.

Prosecutors had asked that Maxwell be sentenced to between 30 and 55 years in prison. Defense attorneys had asked for a sentence of about four to five years, according to the Times.

Original report: Prosecutors have asked U.S. District Court Judge Alison Nathan to sentence Maxwell to as many as 55 years in prison, calling her role in Epstein’s sex trafficking scheme “shockingly predatory.” Defense attorneys argued that their client deserved leniency based on several factors, including the fact that she was convicted of crimes that occurred years ago – from 1994 to 2004 – and had not been accused of any criminal activity in the intervening years.

A hearing on Maxwell’s sentence is set to begin at 11 a.m.

Officials with the U.S. Probation Office recommended that Maxwell be sentenced to 20 years imprisonment, calling her actions “heinous and predatory in nature.” In a sentencing memorandum filed in court, prosecutors argued that Maxwell should face a higher sentence, writing that the probation office failed to account for two of Maxwell’s victims.

“She made the choice to sexually exploit numerous underage girls,” prosecutors wrote. “She made the choice to conspire with Epstein for years, working as partners in crime and causing devastating harm to vulnerable victims. She should be held accountable for her disturbing role in an extensive child exploitation scheme.”

Defense attorneys argued that Maxwell has been made into a scapegoat for Epstein following his 2019 death while in police custody. Epstein died by suicide while awaiting trial on charges that he sexually abused and exploited dozens of girls between 2002 and 2005.

“The witnesses at trial testified about Ms. Maxwell’s facilitation of Epstein’s abuse, but Epstein was always the central figure: Epstein was the mastermind, Epstein was the principal abuser, and Epstein orchestrated the crimes for his personal gratification,” defense attorneys wrote in a sentencing memorandum.

“This Court cannot sentence Ms. Maxwell as if she were a proxy for Epstein simply because Epstein is no longer here. Ms. Maxwell cannot and should not bear all the punishment for which Epstein should have been held responsible.”

Maxwell has denied abusing anyone. She was convicted in December of several charges, including sex trafficking of a minor.