Ghislaine Maxwell was sentenced to 20 years in prison Tuesday for carrying out a years-long scheme with her longtime confidante Jeffrey Epstein to sexually abuse underage girls.
Maxwell, 60, was convicted in December of five counts, including sex trafficking of a minor, transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity and three related counts of conspiracy. She did not testify in her defense during the trial, but on Tuesday she spoke in court to the victims shortly before the sentence was handed down.
“Jeffrey Epstein should have been here before all of you,” Maxwell said at the podium, her legs shackled. “It is not about Epstein, ultimately. It is for me to be sentenced.”
Maxwell acknowledged that she had been convicted of helping Epstein but stopped short of taking responsibility.
“I am sorry for the pain that you’ve experienced,” Maxwell said. “I hope my conviction … brings you closure.”
Prosecutors had asked the judge to sentence Maxwell to 30 to 55 years in prison, while the probation department recommended 20 years. Maxwell’s attorneys requested a more lenient sentence of between 4.25 and 5.25 years in prison.
Judge Alison Nathan calculated that the sentencing guidelines called for about 15½ to 19½ years in prison. Yet she delivered a sentence slightly above that range, noting the victims’ disturbing testimony and Maxwell’s “direct and repeated participation in a horrific scheme.”
“Miss Maxwell is not punished in place of Epstein,” she said. “Miss Maxwell is being punished for the role that she played.”
Nathan also said Maxwell failed to accept responsibility for her role in the crimes or show remorse.
“Today’s sentence will attempt to acknowledge the harm that Ms. Maxwell has caused,” Nathan said.
The 20-year sentence represents a pivotal moment in an international sex trafficking case that stretched over decades and exemplified the ways that the rich and powerful can avoid — or, at least, delay — consequences for their actions.
Maxwell, Epstein’s former girlfriend, was also sentenced to five years of supervised release and a $750,000 fine, which her attorney said she is unable to pay. The judge said she will be sent to a federal prison in Danbury, Connecticut.
Epstein, who pleaded guilty in 2008 to state prostitution charges, was indicted on federal sex trafficking charges in July 2019 but died by suicide in prison a month later. Maxwell has been detained since her arrest in July 2020.