Tuesday, Ghislaine Maxwell was sentenced to 20 years in jail for assisting the sex offender and globetrotting financier Jeffrey Epstein in sexually abusing young girls in a "horrific scheme" that caused "incalculable" suffering to victims, as described by the judge.
The 60-year-old British socialite was convicted in December on five offenses, including sex trafficking of a juvenile, for recruiting and grooming four girls between 1994 and 2004 for sexual meetings with her then-boyfriend Epstein.
Maxwell described Epstein as a "manipulative, cunning and controlling man" who deceived everyone in his sphere during her sentencing hearing in a Manhattan federal court before she learned her sentence. She expressed regret for the suffering his victims endured.
Maxwell stated, "It is the greatest regret of my life that I ever met Jeffrey Epstein,"
Maxwell's month-long trial in late 2021 was viewed as the reckoning that Epstein, who committed himself at age 66 in a Manhattan jail cell while awaiting his sex-trafficking prosecution, never received.
It was one of the most prominent cases in the aftermath of the #MeToo movement, which pushed women to speak out about sexual assault, frequently at the hands of affluent and influential individuals.
U.S. Circuit Judge Alison Nathan imposed the punishment, stating that Maxwell did not appear to exhibit remorse or take responsibility.
"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 harm caused to these young women was enormous.
Maxwell's attorney, Bobbi Sternheim, stated that she would file an appeal, saying that the public scrutiny of the case before trial "left little room for her to be treated fairly."
Sternheim told reporters, "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,"
A pattern of shifting blame
Maxwell's attorneys argued that she was being used as a scapegoat for Epstein's actions and asked that she serve no more than 5-1/4 years. Last week, prosecutors recommended that Maxwell serves between 30 and 55 years in jail, but on Tuesday, they announced that a 20-year sentence would hold her accountable for "heinous crimes against children."
Damian Williams, the chief 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 stated that Maxwell's statements revealed 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 explained. Ms. Maxwell was instrumental in the sexual abuse of several little girls.
Annie Farmer, also known as "Kate," and two other women testified throughout the trial that Maxwell, who was found guilty on five counts, was a significant figure in their abuse by Epstein. Their evidence was sometimes emotional and explicit.
During Tuesday's hearing, Farmer, now a psychologist, said that her experience of being exploited by Maxwell "resulted in significant shame" and sometimes made her want to "disappear."
Kate stated that she was pleased to assist hold Maxwell responsible.
Kate stated, "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,"