20-year sentence for Ghislaine Maxwell in sex trafficking casetext_fields
NEW YORK: Gislane Maxwell was sentenced on Tuesday to 20 years in prison for aiding and abetting a sex offender and globetrotting financier Jeffrey Epstein who sexually abused teenage girls, in a case that was described as a "horrific scheme" that inflicted "incalculable" harm on victims.
The 60-year-old British socialite was convicted in December of five counts, including sex trafficking of a minor, recruiting and caring for four girls to have sex with her boyfriend, Epstein, between 1994 and 2004.
Before learning of the sentence, Maxwell at her sentencing hearing in Manhattan federal court described Epstein as a "manipulative, cunning and controlling man" who deceived everyone around him. She said she was "sorry" for the pain his victims had suffered.
"It is the greatest regret of my life that I ever met Jeffrey Epstein," Maxwell said.
This month-long trial at the end of 2021 was considered to be the reckoning that Epstein never had. The 66-year-old committed suicide in a Manhattan prison while he was waiting for his own trial in the sex trafficking case, Reuters reported.
This was one of the high-profile cases in the context of the #MeToo movement that encouraged women who suffered from sexual trauma mostly at the hands of the rich and powerful, to talk about their abuse.
Maxwell was not seen to show remorse or take responsibility, according to the US Circuit Judge Alison Nathan.
"Maxwell directly and repeatedly and over the course of many years participated in a horrific scheme to entice, transport and traffic underage girls, some as young as 14, for sexual abuse by and with Jeffrey Epstein," Nathan said. "The damage done to these young girls was incalculable."
Maxwell's attorney Bobbi Sternheim said that they were going to move forward with an appeal, adding that the publicity surrounding the case before the trial "left little room for her to be treated fairly."
"We all know that the person who should have been sentenced today escaped accountability, avoided his victims, avoided absorbing their pain and receiving the punishment he truly deserved," Sternheim told reporters.
'The Deflection Of Blame'
Maxwell's lawyers argued that she was being condemned for the crimes committed by Epstein, and therefore proposed that she only serve 5-1/4 years in prison. Last week the prosecution had suggested a prison sentence between 30 and 55 years, but on Tuesday said that for her "heinous crimes against children", a 20-year sentence would ensure that she was held accountable, according to the Arab News.
Damian Williams, the top federal prosecutor in Manhattan, 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."
Nathan said that Maxwell's statements showed a "pattern of deflection of blame."
"Although Epstein was of course central to this criminal scheme, Ms Maxwell is not being punished in place of Epstein or as a proxy for Epstein," Nathan said. "Ms Maxwell was instrumental in the abuse of several underage girls."
Annie Farmer, who is known as 'Kate' and two other women testified emotionally and explicitly during the trial. They said that Maxwell who was found guilty was an important instrument who facilitated their abuse.
Farmer, who is now a psychologist said during the hearing on Tuesday that Maxwell's exploitation "resulted in significant shame" and that that experience resulted in her wanting to "disappear." She added that she was proud to have helped hold Maxwell accountable.
"Today, I can look at Ghislaine and tell her that I became what I am today in spite of her and her efforts to make me feel powerless and insignificant, and I will cast that empowerment on my daughter," Kate said.