Ghislaine Maxwell, the socialite who once associated with royalty, presidents and billionaires, will be sentenced on Tuesday for helping millionaire Jeffrey Epstein sexually abuse underage girls.
The 11 a.m. sentence in New York is the culmination of a process that detailed how the power couple flaunted their wealth and prominent connections to lure vulnerable girls as young as 14 and then exploit them.
Prosecutors said Epstein, who killed himself in 2019 while awaiting trial, he sexually abused children hundreds of times over more than a decade, and he couldn’t have done it without the help of Maxwell, his long-time partner and ex-girlfriend.
“Maxwell’s conduct was surprisingly predatory. she was a criminal calculator, sophisticated Y dangerous that preyed on vulnerable young women and set them up for sexual abuse,” prosecutors wrote in a court filing.
In December, a jury convicted Maxwell of sex trafficking, transporting a minor to engage in unlawful sex acts and two counts of conspiracy. Prosecutors say he deserves 30 to 55 years in prison.
Maxwell, 60, has denied having abused anyone. Her attorneys have asked US District Judge Alison J. Nathan to impose a sentence of no more than five years.
“Witnesses at trial testified to Ms. Maxwell’s facilitation of Epstein’s abuse, but Epstein was always the central figure: Epstein was the mastermind, Epstein was the primary abuser, and Epstein orchestrated the crimes for his personal gratification.” ”, they wrote in court. presentation.
Epstein and Maxwell’s associations with some of the world’s most famous people weren’t a prominent part of the trial, but mentions of friends like Bill Clinton, Donald Trump and Britain’s Prince Andrew showed how the pair exploited their connections to impress. to his prey.
Over the past 17 years, dozens of women have accused Epstein of abusing them. Many described Maxwell as acting like a lady who recruited them to give Epstein massages.
However, the trial 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, a television actress; Kate, a former UK model; and Carolyn, now a mother recovering from drug addiction. The fourth was Annie Farmer, who identified herself in court by her real name after speaking publicly.
They described how Maxwell wowed 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 them to give Epstein massages that turned sexual.
Carolyn testified that she was one of several underprivileged teenagers who lived near Epstein’s Florida home 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, even though she knew the girl was only 14 at the time.
The allegations against Epstein first surfaced publicly in 2005. He pleaded guilty to sex charges in Florida and served 13 months in jail, much of it in a work release program as part of a deal criticized as lenient. Subsequently, he was asked to register as a sex offender.
In the years that followed, many women sued Epstein for alleged abuse. One of them, Virginia Giuffre, claimed that Epstein and Maxwell had also pressured her into dating other powerful men, including Prince Andrew. All of those men denied the allegations, and Giuffre eventually settled a lawsuit against Andrew out of court.
Federal prosecutors in New York revived the case against Epstein after Miami Herald stories in 2018 brought new attention to his crimes. He was arrested in 2019 but killed himself a month later.
Eleven months after his death, Maxwell was arrested at a New Hampshire estate. An American, British and French citizen, she has remained in a federal prison in New York City ever since as her lawyers repeatedly criticize her treatment, saying she was even unfairly placed on suicide watch days before the death. judgment. Prosecutors say the claims about the jail are exaggerated and that Maxwell has been treated better than other inmates.
His attorneys also fought to have his jury misconduct conviction overturned.
Days after the verdict, a juror gave media interviews in which he revealed that he had been sexually abused as a child, something he had not told the court during jury selection. Maxwell’s attorneys said she deserved a new trial. A judge disagreed.
At least eight women have submitted letters to the judge, describing the sexual abuse they said they suffered from meeting Maxwell and Epstein. Four of them plan to make oral statements at sentencing, including two women, Annie Farmer and Kate, who testified at trial.
In letters to the judge, six of Maxwell’s seven surviving siblings pleaded for clemency.
Anne Holve and Philip Maxwell, his older brothers, wrote that their relationship with Epstein began shortly after the death in 1991 of their father, British newspaper mogul Robert Maxwell.
They said that Robert Maxwell had subjected his daughter to “frequent rapid mood swings, great rages and rejection.”
“This led to her becoming very vulnerable to abusive and powerful men who might take advantage of her innate good nature,” they wrote.
Prosecutors called the shift of blame from Maxwell to Epstein “absurd and offensive.”
“Maxwell was an adult making her own decisions,” they wrote to the court. “She made the decision to sexually exploit numerous underage girls. She made the choice to conspire with Epstein for years, working as partners in crime and causing devastating harm to vulnerable victims. She should be held accountable for her disturbing role in a vast scheme of child exploitation.”
(with information from AP)
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