By TOM HAYS and LARRY NEUMEISTER | Associated Press
NEW YORK – Ghislaine Maxwell, the jet-set socialite who was previously associated with members of the royal family, presidents and billionaires, was sentenced Tuesday to 20 years in prison for helping financier Jeffrey Epstein sexually abuse underage girls.
The harsh phrase was the punctuation mark in a trial that explored the sordid rituals of a predatory power couple who courted the rich and famous while luring vulnerable girls as young as 14 and then exploiting them.
Prosecutors said Epstein, who committed suicide in 2019 while awaiting trial, sexually abused children hundreds of times over more than a decade, and that he could not do so without the help of Maxwell, his longtime partner and a former girlfriend who, they said, also sometimes participated. in abuse. In December, a jury convicted Maxwell of sex trafficking, transporting a minor to engage in illegal sexual acts, and two conspiracy charges.
U.S. District Judge Alison J. Nathan, who also imposed a $ 750,000 fine, said “a very important sentence is needed” and wanted to send an “unmistakable message” that such crimes would be punished. The prosecution had asked the judge to give him between 30 and 55 years in prison, while Maxwell’s defense asked for a moderate sentence of only five years.
Maxwell, who wore a blue prison uniform and a white mask to comply with the coronavirus rules, looked aside as the sentence was announced, but otherwise did not react. He also sat in silence before, while U.S. Assistant Prosecutor Alison Moe recounted how Maxwell subjected the girls to “horrible nightmares” leading them to Epstein.
“They were fellow criminals together and harassed these children together,” he said, calling Maxwell “a person who was indifferent to the suffering of other human beings.”
When he had a chance to speak, Maxwell said he empathized with the survivors and that it was his “greatest regret of my life I have ever met Jeffrey Epstein.” Maxwell called him “a manipulative, cunning, controlling man who lived a deeply compartmentalized life,” echoing his lawyers’ claims that Epstein was the true brain.
Maxwell, who denies abusing anyone, said he hoped his conviction and his “unusual incarceration” would bring some “measure of peace and purpose.”
Nathan refused to let Maxwell escape the guilt, making it clear that Maxwell was being punished for his own actions, not Epstein’s. She described the crimes as “atrocious and predatory” and said Maxwell, as a sophisticated adult woman, provided the safety varnish while “normalizing” sexual abuse through her involvement, encouragement and instruction.
Several survivors described her sexual abuse, including Annie Farmer, whose voice was broken several times when she said “we will continue to live with the harm she has done to us.” Farmer said her sister and herself tried to make public their stories about Epstein and Maxwell two decades ago, only to be shut down by the powerful couple through threats and influences with authorities.
Inside the crowded courtroom, three of Maxwell’s brothers sat in a row behind her. Most of the other attendees were members of the media.
Epstein and Maxwell’s associations with some of the world’s most famous people were not a prominent part of the trial, but mentions of friends such as Bill Clinton, Donald Trump and Prince Andrew of Britain showed how the couple exploited their connections to impress the its prey.
For the past 17 years, dozens of women have accused Epstein of abusing them. Many described Maxwell as a lady who recruited them to massage Epstein.
The trial, however, revolved around the accusations of only a handful of those women.
Four testified that they were abused as teenagers in the 1990s and early 2000s at Epstein’s mansions in Florida, New York, New Mexico, and the Virgin Islands.
Three were identified in court only by their names or pseudonyms to protect their privacy: Jane, television actress; Kate, a former UK model; and Carolyn, now a mother recovering from drug addiction. The fourth was Farmer, the only prosecutor who identified herself in court by her real name, after speaking publicly.
They described how Maxwell enchanted them with conversations, gifts, and promises that Epstein could use his wealth and connections to help them fulfill their dreams.
Then, they testified, she took us to massage Epstein who became sexual and played normally.
Carolyn testified that she was one of several disadvantaged teenagers living near Epstein’s home in Florida in the early 2000s and accepted an offer to massage him in exchange for $ 100 bills in what prosecutors described as “a pyramid of abuse. “.
Maxwell made all the arrangements, Carolyn told the jury, though she knew the girl was only 14 at the time.
The charges against Epstein first appeared publicly in 2005. He pleaded guilty to sexual charges in Florida and served 13 months in prison, largely in a labor release program as part of a deal criticized as lenient. He was then required to register as a sex offender.
In the following years, many women sued Epstein for alleged abuse. One, Virginia Giuffre, claimed that Epstein and Maxwell also pressured her to have sex with other powerful men, including Prince Andrew. All of those men denied the allegations and Giuffre finally settled a lawsuit against Andrew out of court.
New York federal prosecutors have revived the case against Epstein after the 2018 Miami Herald stories drew new attention to his crimes. He was arrested in 2019, but committed suicide a month later.
Eleven months after his death, Maxwell was arrested on a New Hampshire estate. A U.S., British and French citizen has remained in a New York City federal jail ever since while his lawyers repeatedly criticized his treatment, saying he was even placed unfairly under suicide surveillance days before the conviction. Prosecutors say the allegations about the jail are exaggerated and that Maxwell was treated better than other inmates.
His lawyers also fought for his conviction for jury misconduct to be overturned. Days after the verdict, a jury gave interviews to the media in which it revealed that he had been sexually abused as a child, something he did not tell the court during the jury selection. Maxwell’s lawyers said she deserved a new trial. A judge disagreed.
At least eight women filed letters to the judge, describing the sexual abuse they said they suffered from meeting Maxwell and Epstein. Six of Maxwell’s seven living brothers wrote to ask for clemency. Maxwell’s fellow inmate also sent a letter describing how Maxwell has helped educate other inmates over the past two years.
Anne Holve and Philip Maxwell, his older brothers, wrote that their relationship with Epstein began shortly after the death of their father in 1991, British newspaper mogul Robert Maxwell.
They said Robert Maxwell subjected his daughter to “frequent rapid mood swings, great anger and rejection.”
“This has made her very vulnerable to abusive and powerful men who could take advantage of her innate good nature,” they wrote.
Prosecutors called the transfer of Maxwell’s guilt to Epstein “absurd and offensive.”
Before his fate was announced, Maxwell looked down and scribbled on a notepad while Sarah Ransome, an accuser whose accusations were not included in this trial, spoke of the lasting damage to her life, looking directly at Maxwell several times.
Ransome, who attempted to die by suicide twice, finally took a look at Maxwell when he said, “You broke me in unfathomable ways, but you didn’t break my spirit.”
Ghislaine Maxwell sentenced to 20 years for helping Jeffrey Epstein sexually abuse underage girls – Press Telegram Source link Ghislaine Maxwell sentenced to 20 years for helping Jeffrey Epstein sexually abuse underage girls – Press Telegram