Ghislaine Maxwell to be sentenced for sex trafficking of underage girls for Jeffrey Epstein

The British socialite will only be sentenced on three counts after Judge Alison Nathan agreed that two of the conspiracy charges she faced were repetitive.

Prosecutors asked the judge to sentence Maxwell to 30 to 55 years in prison, which matches federal sentencing guidelines, although the probation service recommended 20 years.

Maxwell’s lawyers have called for a more lenient sentence of between 4.25 and 5.25 years in prison, calling it a “travesty of justice” if Maxwell faces a more appropriate sentence for Epstein himself.

The sentencing represents a pivotal moment in an international sex trafficking case that has spanned decades and illustrated the ways in which the rich and powerful can avoid the consequences of their actions.

Epstein, who pleaded guilty in 2008 to prostitution charges in the state, was charged with federal sex trafficking in July 2019 but died by suicide in prison a month later.

Maxwell, Epstein’s former girlfriend and longtime associate, has been detained since her arrest in July 2020, and her lawyers say her time behind bars has been a ‘disproportionate pre-conviction punishment’ that will not end now that she is housed with the general population.

“Ms. Maxwell has already experienced difficult times while in custody under conditions far more onerous and punitive than those experienced by a typical remand prisoner, and she is preparing to spend far more time behind bars,” the lawyers said. of Maxwell in their sentencing recommendation. “His life has been ruined. Since Epstein’s death, his life has been threatened and death threats continue while he is incarcerated.”

Prosecutors, who dispute allegations of Maxwell’s mistreatment at the Metropolitan Detention Center, said in their sentencing recommendation that Maxwell “enjoyd remarkable privileges as a high-level inmate that far outweighed the benefits accorded to the average inmate.” , including access to a private shower, television, desktop computer, laptop and his own space to spend time outside his cell.

Officials at the Brooklyn Detention Center where Maxwell is being held said she was placed on suicide watch over the weekend after fears she was at ‘increased risk of self-harm’ ahead of her sentencing .

Prosecutors said Maxwell declined to answer questions from psychology staff about why she feared for her safety, but told staff she was not suicidal.

Prosecutors said the director told them she would remain under watch until she was “no longer at increased risk of self-harm”.

A fellow inmate wrote a letter to Judge Nathan praising Maxwell’s positive interactions with other prisoners and his volunteer work teaching yoga and helping inmates earn their GED degrees.

“It is important to know that there are also positive opinions, some of which are among the inmates of the unit,” the inmate said in her letter.

What happened at the trial

The month-long trial alternated between disturbing testimony from victims of sexual abuse and enlightening testimony about some of Epstein’s links to high-profile celebrities.

Prosecutors argued that Maxwell and Epstein conspired to set up a scheme to lure young girls into sexual relationships with Epstein from 1994 to 2004 in New York, Florida, New Mexico and the US Virgin Islands. . Four women testified during the trial that Epstein abused them and that Maxwell facilitated and sometimes participated in the abuse.

Her defense, meanwhile, said she was a “scapegoat” for Epstein’s actions and attacked the memories and motivations of women who say they were sexually abused.

The prosecution case relied primarily on the testimony of the four women.

Jane, testifying under a pseudonym, said Maxwell arranged sex massages with Epstein and sometimes joined in the abuse. The charges of incitement – for which Maxwell was acquitted – and transportation relate solely to her testimony.
Carolyn, who testified using only her first name, said that when she was 14, Maxwell touched her breasts, hips and buttocks and told her she “had a great body for Epstein and his friends”. The child sex trafficking charge – the most serious of all charges – is linked to his testimony.
A woman identified as “Kate” testified that Maxwell invited her over and told her how to give Epstein a sex massage. She said Maxwell often discussed sexual matters with her and asked Kate to invite other young girls over to Epstein’s sexual desires.

The jury was told they could not convict Maxwell on any of the counts based solely on Kate’s testimony because she was over the age of consent at the time of the events, but jurors could consider Kate’s allegations by more testimony from Jane, Carolyn and Annie. Farmer.

Farmer, the only accuser to testify by full name, said she was 16 when Maxwell massaged her bare chest at Epstein’s ranch in New Mexico in 1996.

Nathan ruled that seven victim impact statements could be included at sentencing.

Farmer asked the judge to consider the lasting effects of Maxwell’s behavior on his victims.

“Judge Nathan, I hope that when you consider the appropriate prison sentence for Maxwell’s role in this sex trafficking operation, you take into account the continued suffering of the many women he abused and exploited, because we will continue to live with the memories of the I hope you weigh the systemic effects of the crimes she committed – how our family members, romantic partners and friends were hurt by our suffering,” Farmer wrote. .

“Kate” also wrote a victim impact statement detailing the manipulation she says she suffered at the hands of Maxwell for Epstein’s benefit.

“I have witnessed many times over many years Ghislaine Maxwell trying to recruit other girls and constantly and insistently asking me and others to do the same.

“I witnessed her relentless and insatiable drive to meet Epstein’s sexual needs, at all costs for vulnerable girls and women, whom she preyed on and nurtured Epstein and other powerful men, whom she wished to please herself. There was never any ambiguity or doubt as to her full knowledge of what was going to happen once she recruited girls,” she said in her victim impact statement.

Virginia Roberts Giuffre did not testify at trial but was included as a victim in the indictment and frequently cited during trial testimony.

She personally addressed her written statement to Ghislaine Maxwell.

“I want to be clear on one thing: without a doubt, Jeffrey Epstein was a terrible pedophile. But I would never have met Jeffrey Epstein without you. For me, and for so many others, you have opened the door to hell. And then, Ghislaine, like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, you used your femininity to betray us, and you guided us to the end,” she wrote.

The impact statements of four other women should also be read in the minutes. The judge ruled she would consider these statements to a limited extent, as Maxwell has not been charged or convicted in this case in connection with the women’s allegations.

Maxwell’s siblings will be in the courtroom to support their sister, according to her brother, Kevin Maxwell, who said he hasn’t seen Ghislaine since December.

She lost the offer to have the convictions dropped

Maxwell endured a ‘difficult and traumatic childhood’ with an overbearing father, leaving her ‘vulnerable’ to Epstein, and meeting him was the ‘biggest mistake she made in her life’, Maxwell’s lawyers said in their sentencing note.

Prosecutors called the notion “absurd and offensive” in their response memo.

“Maxwell was an adult who made her own choices. She made the choice to sexually exploit many underage girls. She made the choice to conspire with Epstein for years, working as partners in crime and causing devastating damage. to vulnerable victims. She should be held accountable for her disturbing role in a massive child exploitation scheme,” the prosecution’s memo reads.

Federal judge rejects Ghislaine Maxwell's bid for new trial on jury issue

“The lenient sentence sought by the defendant would send the message that there is one system of laws for the rich and powerful, and another for everyone else.”

The judge previously denied a post-trial motion by Maxwell’s attorneys to have his sex trafficking convictions dropped.

“Testimony and other trial evidence established the defendant’s role in grooming and recruiting underage girls and using the cover of massage to perpetrate sexual abuse,” Nathan wrote in his opinion.

Maxwell also lost his bid for a new trial earlier this year. His defense team argued for the mistrial of a juror who revealed in post-trial media interviews that he had been sexually abused as a minor, a fact he does not did not disclose in a pre-trial jury selection questionnaire.

In a 40-page opinion, the judge regretted the juror’s lack of attention, but also noted that the bar for overturning a guilty verdict was high.

CNN’s Sonia Moghe, Kara Scannell and Eric Levenson contributed to this report.

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