Ghislaine Maxwell: Jury finds socialite guilty on five charges in sex trafficking trial
Ghislaine Maxwell’s sentencing hearing in a New York court is now underway, with the British socialite facing up to 55 years in prison.
Maxwell, 60, was found guilty on December 29 by a federal jury on five charges, including sex trafficking for the recruitment and grooming of four girls between 1994 and 2004 for sexual encounters with her former boyfriend and “partner in crime” Jeffrey Epstein.
In setting sentencing guidelines, Judge Alison Nathan called Maxwell’s criminal activity “extensive” and dismissed the assertion that she cannot afford ends.
A shackled Maxwell was joined in court by members of her family as well as several of her victims, who penned impact statements to be read before the sentence is handed down. One such statement came from Virginia Giuffre, who accused Maxwell of “opening the door to hell” by introducing her and others to Epstein.
Federal prosecutors have sought a 30-55 year sentence for Maxwell, who was convicted of recruiting and grooming girls as young as 14 to be abused by Epstein.
Maxwell’s attorneys said on Saturday the socialite had been placed on suicide watch despite not being at risk of self-harm.
Annie Farmer delivers victim impact statement
The first victim to address the court was Annie Farmer, who described her years-long efforts to “erase” Maxwell and Epstein’s crimes from her mind.
After Judge Nathan interjected to ask Ms Farmer to slow down, she said: “The ripple effects of trauma are undeniable.”
She described learning that her sister had also been a victim of Epstein and Maxwell, saying: “As my family watched her become more isolated and physically ill, there was nothing we could do.”
Addressing the judge, Ms Farmer said: “Consider the ongoing suffering of her victims. Weigh the systematic effects of her acts of her.
“Her lack of remorse created the need for many of us to begin a long struggle for justice.”
Megan Sheets28 June 2022 18:31
Maxwell was ‘indifferent’ to victims’ suffering, prosecutor says
AUSA Moe continued by asking: “What kind of woman teaches a 14-year-old girl how a middle-aged man likes to have his penis touched?
“She was indifferent to the suffering of others. She did it for years.”
Megan Sheets28 June 2022 18:20
Prosecution presents argument for maximum sentence
Assistant US Attorney Alison Moe is now addressing the court with the prosecution’s argument for why Maxwell should receive a harsh sentence between 30 and 55 years.
She called what Maxwell did to her victims “unspeakable”, adding: “Their pain is real and it matters.
“These girls were just kids. Maxwell used their dreams as a tool to abuse them.”
Megan SheetsJune 28, 2022 18:15
Maxwell will face fine
Judge Nathan confirmed that she will impose a fine on Maxwell after contests from the defence, including in regards to the $10m bequest from Epstein’s estate.
“We don’t know if there will be any money left,” Maxwell’s lawyer said, according to Inner City Press.
The judge concluded she is “unpersuaded” that Maxwell is indigent, noting that she reported $22m in assets when seeking bail.
The court is now in recess for lunch until 1pm.
“When we return, I will hear from the parties as to what they contain a reasonable sentence is for Ms Maxwell,” Judge Nathan said.
Megan Sheets28 June 2022 17:37
Judge calls Maxwell’s criminal activity ‘extensive’
“I find that the defendant’s criminal activity was extensive,” Judge Nathan told the court.
She also described Maxwell as Epstein’s “number two” and the “lady” of his house is refuting her claim that she did not lead another criminal participant.
As such, the judge said she finds that the undue influence sentencing enhancement applies.
Megan Sheets28 June 2022 17:17
Judge agrees to apply 2003 sentencing guidelines
In a victory for the defense, Judge Nathan agreed that the 2003 sentencing guidelines should be applied.
“The controlling date for ex-post facto purposes is the last date of the offense conduct,” she said, after a lengthy back and forth over when the conspiracy ended.
Megan Sheets28 June 2022 17:06
In pictures: Arrivals at the court
Megan Sheets28 June 2022 16:47
Judge turns to sentencing guidelines
Having overruled each of the defense objections, Judge Nathan adopted the pre-sentencing report and said it will remain under seal.
She then turned to sentencing guidelines, noting that the US Probation Office has recommended 20 years.
In asking for a minimum of 30 years, prosecutors previously argued that Probation Office recommendation does not take into account the cases of two additional women proven to be victims during her four-week trial just before Christmas, despite their not being named in the initial indictment against Maxwell.
In court on Tuesday, Maxwell’s lawyer Christian Everdell told the judge: “We argue that which guidelines apply is a jury question, under the ex post facto clause. The government did not engage with our arguments. When did the offense conduct terminate? It’s up to the jury to decide.”
Assistant US Attorney Alison Moe responded by saying the defendant has the burden of proof in determining when the conspiracy ended.
Megan Sheets28 June 2022 16:38
Judge overrules defense objections
Judge Nathan is now going through defense objections to the pre-sentencing investigative report, thus far overruling each.
The report, prepared by a probation officer, can influence the judge’s decision on sentencing but she is not bound by its findings.
Based on its objections to the report, the defense is arguing for four to five years behind bars. The prosecution, meanwhile, has been asked for 30 to 55 years.
Megan Sheets28 June 2022 16:19
Maxwell dressed in scrubs and shackles
Maxwell entered the court dressed in navy jail-issued scrubs topped with shackles.
She stood emotionless as Judge Nathan took her spot on the bench and began proceedings.
Asked if she’d read the pre-sentencing report, Maxwell replied: “I have an opportunity to read it.”
Megan Sheets28 June 2022 16:14