Ghislaine Maxwell was sentenced to 20 years in prison yesterday for helping late financier Jeffrey Epstein abuse girls, capping the former socialite’s sordid fall from grace. The Oxford-educated daughter of the late British press baron Robert Maxwell appeared not to react as New York Judge Alison Nathan handed down the term in a packed Manhattan federal court.
The sentence was much less than prosecutors sought but still means the 60-year-old friend to royalty and former US presidents is likely to spend much of the rest of her life in jail. Nathan called Maxwell’s crimes “heinous and predatory” as she went with the amount of time recommended by the US probation office, rejecting Maxwell’s claims that she was pursued by prosecutors only because Epstein escaped trial by killing himself in prison. “It is important to emphasise that although Epstein was central to this criminal scheme, Ms Maxwell is not being punished in place of Epstein or as a proxy for Epstein,” said the judge. Maxwell was convicted late last year on five of six counts, the most serious for sex trafficking minors following a month-long high-profile trial in New York.
The charges stemmed from crimes committed between 1994 and 2004. Prosecutors successfully proved that she was “the key” to Epstein’s scheme of enticing young girls to give him massages, during which he would abuse them.
Two of Epstein’s victims, identified as “Jane” and “Carolyn,” testified that they were as young as 14 when Maxwell began grooming them. Maxwell expressed sympathy for the victims during a statement in court yesterday, saying she was “sorry for the pain that you experienced” but blamed Epstein. “I believe that Jeffrey Epstein was a manipulative, cunning and controlling man who lived a profoundly compartmentalised life and fooled all of those in his orbit,” she said. Prosecutors had called for Maxwell to receive between 30 and 55 years in jail, saying she “was an adult who made her own choices.” In a statement, Damian Williams, the US attorney for the Southern District of New York, said the 20-year term “sends a strong message that no-one is above the law and it is never too late for justice.” “Today’s sentence holds Ghislaine Maxwell accountable for perpetrating heinous crimes against children,” he said.
Maxwell has already been held in detention for some two years following her arrest in New Hampshire in the summer of 2020, meaning she will likely be released in her late 70s. “Ghislaine must die in prison,” Maxwell and Epstein accuser Sarah Ransome told reporters outside court before the sentence was read out.