She risks ending her life in New York prison: 60-year-old ex-British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, convicted in late 2021 of sex trafficking minors on behalf of the late American financier Jeffrey Epstein, was sentenced to 20 years in prison on Tuesday.
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“Today’s verdict finds Ghislaine Maxwell responsible for committing heinous crimes against children. It sends a powerful message that no one is above the law and that it’s never too late for justice,” said Damian Williams, federal prosecutor for the Manhattan court where Judge Alison Nathan ruled, in a statement accompanying his verdict.
At sentencing, Ms Maxwell expressed for the first time her “sympathy for all the victims” in the case.
But arriving in front of the gigantic courthouse in southern New York that morning, one of the Maxwell-Epstein couple’s accusers, Sarah Ransome, had let go: “Yes, Ghislaine must die in prison”.
“I’ve spent the last 17 years in my own prison for what you, Jeffrey (Epstein) and all their accomplices did to me. I have been raped several times. Sometimes I was raped three times a day (…). There was a constant influx of girls who were being raped over and over again,” said the young woman, who was not a civil party in Ms. Maxwell’s trial.
The 60-year-old had been detained in New York since her arrest in the Northeast of the United States in the summer of 2020. After her trial last November and December, she faced decades of criminal imprisonment.
In mid-June, his lawyers petitioned for clemency on a sentence of less than 20 years. Although the law and case law provide for up to 55 years in prison and prosecutors have said they expect at least 30 years for his “responsibility” and “utter unrepentance” for his sex crimes.
Last attempt on Saturday to escape her fate: Ms Maxwell’s lawyer Bobbi Sternheim had asked for the sentence to be postponed because her client had been “under surveillance” in prison for “suicidal tendencies”.
“Without justification,” said the defense.
Lawyers had also unsuccessfully pleaded the responsibility and damaging influence of Robert Maxwell – an “authoritarian” father who died in 1991 when he mysteriously fell off his yacht – and Jeffrey Epstein, a financial multimillionaire who committed suicide in prison , New York appealed in August 2019 before his trial for child sex crimes.
Ghislaine Maxwell, British, American and French, was found guilty by a Manhattan court on December 29, specifically of sex trafficking of underage girls. Some victims were as young as 14 in the 1990s and 2000s.
Her trial had portrayed her as a “sophisticated predator” who knowingly acted to lure and seduce young girls and delivered them to Epstein at his residences in Florida, Manhattan, New Mexico and the Virgin Islands.
“Jane”, “Kate”, “Carolyn” and Annie Farmer, 42, the only one speaking without a pseudonym, had revealed before the hearing their lives devastated by forced sex with Epstein – first sexual massages – when they were between 14 and 20 years old old were 17 years old, often in the presence of Maxwell.
Born and raised in a hyper-privileged environment in the United Kingdom, Ghislaine Maxwell reaffirmed this month through her lawyers that she had “a difficult, traumatic childhood” and made “the worst mistake of her life” when she met Epstein.
Ghislaine Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein were in a relationship in the early 1990s before becoming professional collaborators and accomplices in their sex crimes for almost 30 years.
The financier, with powerful economic and political networks in the United States and abroad, was himself accused of raping young girls, but his suicide ended public lawsuits against him.
In a separate part of this filing with international repercussions, Britain’s Prince Andrew, friend of the Maxwell-Epstein couple, on Feb. 15 sealed an amicable settlement — for $13 million, according to the Daily Telegraph — with American Virginia Giuffre, herself the alleged victim of the couple who accused her of sexually abusing her when she was a minor in 2001.
The British royal family has thus avoided a noisy and embarrassing civil lawsuit in New York.