It’s official: Ghislaine Maxwell, the former girlfriend of and accomplice to prolific pedophile and sex-trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, will spend 20 years in federal prison after being charged with recruiting and trafficking scores of underage girls.
“A sentence of 240 months is sufficient and no graver than necessary,” concluded Judge Alison Nathan. Nathan also imposed a $750,000 fine, the maximum under the law.
In response, Bobbi Sternheim, Maxwell’s lawyer, requested that Maxwell be sent to a woman’s facility in Danbury, Connecticut, and enrolled in a female treatment program to address trauma—familial and otherwise. Nathan agreed to make such a recommendation to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, but ultimately, the decision will be made by the agency.
Minutes earlier, Maxwell herself addressed the court, saying:
Your honor, it is hard for me to address the court after listening to the pain and anguish expressed in the statements made here today. 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.
Eventually, she blamed Epstein, calling him a “manipulative, cunning and controlling man,” before she issued an unmistakably passive aggressive apology to their victims:
He should have stood before you in 2005, again in 2009 and again in 2019...all the many times he was accused, charged and prosecuted. But today, it is not about Jeffrey Epstein, ultimately. To you, all the victims, I am sorry for the pain that you experienced. I hope my conviction and harsh incarceration brings you pleasure.
Justice for the victims of Maxwell and Epstein’s international sex trafficking ring—an estimated 150 women—has been long overdue. Epstein was apprehended in July 2019, following a joint investigation by the FBI and the New York police. The billionaire financier was arrested and charged with sex trafficking and conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking. However, he allegedly hanged himself in a New York federal prison cell before his case was ever brought to trial.
Maxwell spent several months in hiding following Epstein’s brief incarceration. At the time of her own arrest in July 2020, she was living on a 156-acre New Hampshire estate that she bought in cash, and had gotten married to Scott Borgerson, a tech entrepreneur. After she was arrested at the $1 million home, Maxwell was held in custody at Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center, including 22 months in solitary confinement, and was repeatedly denied bail. During her time in prison, she has filed more than 100 complaints. In December, she was found guilty of sex trafficking charges.
In a New York City court on Tuesday, seven of Maxwell and Epstein’s victims, including Annie Farmer, a psychologist who, along with her sister, Maria Farmer, were abused by Maxwell and Epstein; Sara Ransome, who once swam shark-infested waters in an attempt to escape Epstein’s estate on Little St. James island; and a woman known only as ‘Kate’ delivered, heartbreaking impact statements.
“To Ghislaine I say, ‘You broke me in unfathomable ways. But [what] you didn’t break is my spirit, nor did you dampen my internal flame that now burns brighter than ever before!’” wrote Ransome.
One of the most recognizable Epstein victims, Virginia Giuffre, who has repeatedly alleged that she was raped by Britain’s Prince Andrew, also shared a victim impact statement directed at Maxwell, writing that she and Epstein did “unthinkable things” to her:
Without question, Jeffrey Epstein was a terrible pedophile. But I never would have met Jeffrey Epstein if not for you. For me, and for so many others, you opened the door to hell. And then, Ghislaine, like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, you used your femininity to betray us, and you led us all through it.
“Ghislaine, you deserve to spend the rest of your life in a jail cell,” the statement continued. “You deserve to be trapped in a cage forever, just like you trapped your victims.”
In turn, Maxwell’s lawyers shared letters from her friends and family, a psychiatric evaluation, and a description of her assisting and tutoring inmates with Nathan.
Over the weekend, Maxwell was reportedly placed on suicide watch. Her legal team had urged Nathan to impose just a four-year sentence, as Maxwell is “not a danger to the public.”
Meanwhile, prosecutors pushed for a sentence of at least 30 years due with equal fervor due to Maxwell’s “utter lack of remorse.”
At every step of the case, Maxwell’s attorneys deployed gender-based arguments to encourage leniency and lessen the blame attributed to her, claiming it was “unfair” that Epstein was never sentenced, while Maxwell faced up to 55 years in federal prison. They sought to portray their client as merely a victim of the men in her life, including her deceased father, Robert Maxwell, who, Sternheim, described in court today as, “narcissistic” and “brutish.”
Even still, it wasn’t enough to ensure the short sentence her team hoped for. And yes, Ghislaine, I think it’s safe to write that the outcome offers immense pleasure to people everywhere. Frankly though, I’m still holding out for the possibility of Maxwell getting a little more loquacious about the other “manipulative, cunning and controlling” people she once hobnobbed with. After all, there’s plenty more pedophile billionaires in Epstein’s little black book to put away!