U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan sentenced Maxwell to 20 years in prison and imposed a $750,000 fine.
“A sentence of 240 months is sufficient and no graver than necessary,” the judge stated, saying that Maxwell’s criminal activity was “extensive.”
Prosecutors had hoped for a sentence of at least 30 years, while Maxwell’s defense had hoped for just four or five years in prison for their client. If her sentence is shortened for good behavior, Maxwell could be released from prison in her late 70s.
Maxwell was found guilty by a jury in December on five of six counts, including sex trafficking of an individual under 18 and transportation of an individual under 17 with intent to engage in “illegal sexual activity,” along with three conspiracy charges. She pled not guilty to all counts.
The former international socialite was a close confidant of Epstein for decades and managed his Florida estate. The two were frequently seen cavorting with billionaires, presidents, and members of the British royal family before they were disgraced. Maxwell remained the well-connected investment manager’s companion for decades even after their nebulous romantic relationship appeared to fizzle in the late 1990s.
Epstein was found dead at 66 in his Manhattan jail cell in August 2019 before the well-connected and wealthy financier could go on trial for his alleged decades of grooming and sexual abuse, including rape, of young girls in the 1990s and early 2000s.
The lurid details of his alleged sex ring include accusations that he procured underage girls for prominent men on his private island in the Virgin Islands, Little St. James.
Maxwell was arrested on July 2, 2020, when federal investigators discovered her hiding out in a New Hampshire mansion after virtually disappearing following Epstein’s death. She was held in a Brooklyn jail without bail because the judge deemed her a flight risk.
Between 1994 and 1997, Maxwell, “assisted, facilitated, and contributed” to Epstein’s abuse of minor girls even though she and Epstein both knew their victims, one of whom was just 14, were underage, according to the indictment against her.
Her trial in Manhattan federal court began in November.
The prosecution in Maxwell’s trial painted a picture of a pair of fully-grown adults, Maxwell and Epstein, who were “partners in crime” and had a “playbook” for targeting minors and sexually abusing them.
“Ghislaine Maxwell was dangerous. She was a grown woman who preyed on vulnerable kids,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Alison Moe said in closing arguments.
The defense attempted to cast doubt on the credibility of Maxwell’s accusers, saying the women have “contaminated” memories. The defense also tried to assign selfish motives to nearly all the government’s witnesses, saying the women are motivated by money in going after Maxwell decades after the alleged abuse occurred.
Over the course of the trial, the jury heard from four of Maxwell’s accusers, several former Epstein employees, a psychologist specializing in sexual abuse, and a memory expert that Maxwell’s defense called, among others.
One of Maxwell’s accusers, a woman testifying under the pseudonym “Jane,” testified that Epstein and Maxwell abused her together when she was just 14 years old. Maxwell took her on shopping trips, asked her about her life, and discussed sexual topics with her, “Jane” said.
Three other women who say they were groomed or abused by Maxwell also testified. One woman, Annie Farmer, who testified under her full name, said Maxwell massaged her naked breasts when she was 16.
Dozens of other women have also accused Epstein of grooming and sexual abusing them when they were minors.
Another prominent accuser, Virginia Giuffre, accused Maxwell of grooming her for Epstein’s abuse when she was a 16-year-old spa attendant at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach (Trump reportedly later banned Epstein from Mar-a-Lago in 2007 for harassing another member’s teenage daughter). Giuffre said the sexual abuse she suffered included lessons on Epstein’s oral sex preferences. Maxwell accused her of “obvious lies,” and Giuffre sued Maxwell for defamation.
During a deposition in that case, Maxwell claimed she had never given Epstein or anyone else a massage, a claim prosecutors said was a lie. Prosecutors also said she lied about whether she knew Epstein had sex toys and whether she knew that he engaged in sexual activity with anyone other than herself and two other women.
The sex trafficking trial that ended in December prompted speculation that incriminating information could potentially come to light about some of the high-profile names connected to Epstein, such as Microsoft founder Bill Gates, former presidents Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, Bobby Kennedy Jr., and former Sen. George Mitchell. However, the trial revealed little new information about Epstein’s circle of friends.
Initially, Maxwell vehemently maintained her innocence, even blurting out at a pre-trial conference, “I have not committed any crime.”
On Tuesday, Maxwell struck a more subdued tone when she addressed the court before her sentencing.
“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,” Maxwell said.
However, she placed the blame squarely on Epstein, implying that she too was manipulated by him.
“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 said.