NEW YORK | She will probably end her life in prison in New York: 60-year-old ex-British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, convicted at the end of 2021 of sex trafficking of minors on behalf of deceased American financier Jeffrey Epstein, was sentenced on Tuesday to 20 years imprisonment.
When Manhattan federal court judge Alison Nathan handed down that sentence for the “heinous predatory” sex crimes, Ghislaine Maxwell, shoulder-length hair, masked and dressed in black pants and a gray shirt, is remained almost impassive.
But just before being fixed on her fate, the sixty-year-old, incarcerated in New York for two years already, had for the first time expressed her “sympathy for all the victims” and said she was “sorry for the suffering felt” for sexual crimes committed between 1994 and 2004 against adolescent girls aged 14 to 17.
Ghislaine Maxwell, however, placed the main responsibility on her former companion and accomplice Jeffrey Epstein, who committed suicide in prison in New York in August 2019, “a manipulator (…) who deceived everyone in his orbit”.
“Heinous crimes against children”
Judge Nathan replied that she was “not being punished in Epstein's place” and federal prosecutor Damian Williams blasted her “heinous crimes against children” by congratulating himself that “no one is above the laws” in the United States.
The heavy sentence was greeted with relief by the victims.
Annie Farmer, a forty-something who told in pain during the trial at the end of 2021 how she had fallen as a teenager into the clutches of the Maxwell-Epstein couple, declared herself satisfied that “it is never too late for truth and responsibility”.
Another, Sarah Ransome, launched in front of the press: “Yes, Ghislaine must die in prison”.
“I spent the last 17 years in my own prison for what she, Jeffrey ( Epstein) and all the accomplices made me. I have been raped several times. Sometimes I was raped three times a day (…). There was a constant influx of girls who were raped over and over again,” said this recognized victim, but who was not a civil party in Ms. Maxwell’s trial.
55 years risked
After her trial in New York last November and December which had found her guilty of sex trafficking of minors for Jeffrey Epstein, the sexagenarian faced up to 55 years of imprisonment criminal.
His lawyers, who announced that they would appeal the sentence, had already requested a sentence of less than 20 years in prison in mid-June and denounced the solitary confinement of their client in his New York prison, the prison administration citing a risk of “suicide”.
The lawyers had also invoked, in vain, the responsibility and the harmful influence of the British press magnate Robert Maxwell – an “authoritarian” father who died in 1991 by mysteriously falling from his yacht — and Jeffrey Epstein.
Her trial had portrayed her as a “sophisticated predator” who acted as an “adult” to lure, seduce young girls and deliver them to Epstein at his residences in Florida, Manhattan, New Mexico and the Virgin Islands.
“Jane”, “Kate”, “Carolyn” and Annie Farmer had exposed their lives damaged by forced sex with Epstein – first sexual massages – when they were minors, often in the presence by Maxwell.
“The mistake of his life”
Born and raised in a hyper-privileged environment in the United Kingdom, Ghislaine Maxwell again assured this month via her lawyers that she “had a difficult, traumatic childhood” and made “the most serious mistake of her life” by meeting 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 nearly 30 years.
The financier, with powerful networks economic and political interests in the United States and abroad, was himself accused of sexually assaulting and raping young girls, but his suicide extinguished public action against him.
In a separate part of this file with international ramifications, the British prince Andrew, friend of the Maxwell-Epstein pair, sealed an amicable agreement on February 15 – for 13 million dollars according to the Daily Telegraph – with the American Virginia Giuffre, herself the alleged victim of the couple, who he accused her of having sexually assaulted her in 2001 when she was a minor.
The British royal family thus avoided a civil lawsuit in New York as resounding as it was embarrassing.