Ghislaine Maxwell sentenced to 20 years for helping Epstein – WSB-TV Channel 2

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NEW YORK – (AP) – Ghislaine Maxwell, the jet-set socialite who once dated royals, presidents and billionaires, was sentenced to 20 years in prison on Tuesday for helping financier Jeffrey Epstein sexually abusing underage girls.

The harsh sentence was the punctuation mark of a trial that explored the sordid rituals of a predatory power couple who courted the rich and famous as they lured vulnerable girls as young as 14 and then exploited them .

Prosecutors say Epstein, who killed himself in 2019 while awaiting trial, sexually abused children hundreds of times over more than a decade, and could not have done it without the help of Maxwell, his longtime companion and former girlfriend who they say sometimes also participated. in abuse. In December, a jury found Maxwell guilty of sex trafficking, transporting a minor to participate in unlawful sex acts and two counts of conspiracy.

U.S. District Judge Alison J. Nathan, who also imposed a $750,000 fine, said “a very heavy sentence is needed” and that she wanted to send an “unequivocal message” that these types of crimes would be punished. Prosecutors had asked the judge to give him 30 to 55 years in prison, while the defense for Maxwell, 60, demanded a lenient sentence of just five years.

Maxwell, dressed in a blue prison uniform and white face mask to comply with coronavirus rules, looked to one side when the sentence was announced but otherwise did not react.

“We will continue to live with the hurt she has caused us,” said Annie Farmer, one of four accusers who testified against Maxwell at trial, in the courtroom before sentencing.

When given the opportunity to speak, Maxwell said she sympathized with the survivors and said it was her “biggest regret of my life to have met Jeffrey Epstein”. Maxwell called him “a manipulative, cunning and controlling man who lived a deeply compartmentalized life”, echoing his defense attorneys’ claims that Epstein was the real mastermind.

Maxwell, who denies abusing anyone, said she hoped her sentencing and “unusual incarceration” would bring some “measure of peace and finality”.

Nathan refused to let Maxwell escape guilt, making it clear that Maxwell was being punished for her own actions, not those of Epstein. She called the crimes “heinous and predatory” and said Maxwell, as a sophisticated adult woman, provided the veneer of safety by “normalizing” sexual abuse through her involvement, encouragement and instruction.

Several survivors have described their sexual abuse, including Farmer, who said she and her sister tried to go public with their stories about Epstein and Maxwell two decades ago, before they were shut down by the power couple by the through threats and influence with the authorities.

In the crowded courtroom, three of Maxwell’s siblings sat behind her. Most of the other people present were members of the media.

Assistant US Attorney Alison Moe has told how Maxwell subjected girls to “horrible nightmares” by taking them to Epstein.

“They were partners in crime together and they molested these kids together,” she said, calling Maxwell “a person indifferent to the suffering of other human beings.”

Epstein and Maxwell’s associations with some of the world’s most famous people were not a significant part of the trial, but mentions of friends like Bill Clinton, Donald Trump and Britain’s Prince Andrew showed how the couple exploited their relationship to impress their prey.

Over the past 17 years, dozens of women have accused Epstein of abusing them, with many describing Maxwell as the madam who recruited them. The lawsuit, however, revolved around the allegations of only a handful of these women.

Four testified to being abused as teenagers in the 1990s and early 2000s at Epstein mansions in Florida, New York, New Mexico and the Virgin Islands.

Three were identified in court only by their first names or aliases to protect their privacy: Jane, a television actress; Kate, a former model from the UK; and Carolyn, now a mother recovering from drug addiction. The fourth was Farmer, the only accuser to identify herself in court by her real name, after speaking out publicly.

They described how Maxwell charmed them with conversations, gifts and promises that Epstein could use his wealth and connections to help them achieve their dreams.

Then, they testified, she tricked them into giving Epstein massages that turned sexual and played as usual.

Carolyn testified that she was one of many disadvantaged teenage girls 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.

Allegations against Epstein first surfaced publicly in 2005. He pleaded guilty to sex charges in Florida and served 13 months in prison, much of it in a work release program under a deal criticized as lenient. Subsequently, he had to register as a sex offender.

In the years since, many women have sued Epstein for alleged abuse. One, Virginia Giuffre, claimed Epstein and Maxwell also pressured her into having sex with other powerful men, including Prince Andrew. All of these men denied the allegations, and Giuffre eventually settled a lawsuit against Andrew out of court.

Federal prosecutors in New York have revived the case against Epstein after articles in the Miami Herald in 2018 drew attention to his crimes. He was arrested in 2019, but committed suicide 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 federal prison in New York since then, as her lawyers repeatedly criticized her treatment, saying she was even unfairly placed on suicide watch days before her sentencing. . Prosecutors say the claims about the prison are exaggerated and that Maxwell was treated better than other prisoners.

His attorneys also fought to have his conviction overturned for juror misconduct. Days after the verdict, a juror gave media interviews in which he revealed he had been sexually abused as a child – something he did not tell the court during jury selection. Maxwell’s lawyers said she deserves a new trial. A judge disagreed.

At least eight women submitted letters to the judge, describing the sexual abuse they said they suffered for meeting Maxwell and Epstein. Six of Maxwell’s seven living siblings wrote to plead for clemency. Maxwell’s fellow inmate also submitted a letter describing how Maxwell has helped educate other inmates over the past two years.

Anne Holve and Philip Maxwell, his older siblings, wrote that his relationship with Epstein began shortly after the death in 1991 of their father, British newspaper magnate Robert Maxwell.

They said Robert Maxwell subjected his daughter to “frequent rapid mood swings, tremendous rages and rejection”.

“This caused her to become very vulnerable to violent and powerful men who might take advantage of her innate good nature,” they wrote.

Before her fate was announced, Maxwell looked down and scribbled on a notepad as Sarah Ransome – an accuser whose allegations were not included in this lawsuit – spoke of the lasting harm done to her life, looking directly at Maxwell. Many times.

Ransome, who has twice attempted suicide, finally caught a look from Maxwell when she said, “You broke me unfathomably but you didn’t break my spirit.”

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