Ghislaine Maxwell sentenced to 20 years in Epstein sex abuse case

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Ghislaine Maxwell, the socialite who was convicted late last year of helping financier Jeffrey Epstein sexually abuse underage girls, was sentenced on Tuesday to 20 years in prison.

"A sentence of 240 months is sufficient and no graver than necessary," U.S. District Judge Alison J. Nathan said while issuing the verdict.

Nathan addressed those gathered inside the federal courthouse in lower Manhattan, including Maxwell and some of her victims.

“Ms. Maxwell directly and repeatedly and over the course of many years participated in a horrific scheme,” Nathan said. “Ms. Maxwell worked with Epstein to select young victims who were vulnerable.”

The judge said that Maxwell, 60, played a “pivotal” role facilitating "heinous and predatory" abuse. Nathan also imposed a $750,000 fine, the maximum amount possible under the law.

Outside the courthouse, Maxwell's lawyer told reporters she plans to appeal.

Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell at an event at Cipriani Wall Street in 2005.
Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell at an event at Cipriani Wall Street in 2005. (Joe Schildhorn/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)

In December, Maxwell was convicted by a jury on five charges, including sex trafficking, transporting a minor to participate in illegal sex acts and two conspiracy counts.

Federal prosecutors were seeking a sentence of 30 to 55 years in prison.

“Maxwell’s conduct was shockingly predatory,” prosecutors wrote in a court filing. “She was a calculating, sophisticated, and dangerous criminal who preyed on vulnerable young girls and groomed them for sexual abuse.”

Her attorneys had asked the judge for a sentence of four to five years.

Before Maxwell’s sentence was handed down, the judge heard impact statements from victims, including Annie Farmer, who had testified she was 16 when Maxwell introduced her to Epstein, and a woman identified as Kate who told jurors that Maxwell once gave her a “schoolgirl” outfit to wear during an encounter with him.

A lawyer for another victim, Virginia Giuffre, read a statement on her behalf that directly addressed Maxwell.

“You deserve to spend the rest of your life in a jail cell,” the statement said. “You deserve to be trapped in a cage.”

Ghislaine Maxwell attends her sentencing hearing Tuesday.
Maxwell attends her sentencing hearing Tuesday. (Courtroom sketch by Jane Rosenberg/Reuters)

Maxwell has been held in Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center since her arrest at a New Hampshire estate in July 2020. Epstein committed suicide in prison in 2019 one month after he was indicted on federal sex trafficking charges.

During sentencing, Maxwell was given a chance to address the court and her victims.

“Your honor, it is hard for me to address the court after listening to the pain and anguish expressed in the statements made here today," she said. "The terrible impact on the lives of so many women is difficult to hear and even more difficult to absorb, both in its scale and in its extent.

“I believe that Jeffrey Epstein was a manipulative, cunning and controlling man who lived a profoundly compartmentalized life and fooled all of those in his orbit,” Maxwell continued. "But today is not about Jeffrey Epstein."

She added: "To you, all the victims ... I am sorry for the pain that you experienced."