Ghislaine Maxwell has been sentenced to 20 years in federal prison on Tuesday for carrying out a scheme with her longtime boyfriend and confidante Jeffrey Epstein to groom and sexually abuse underage girls.
Maxwell, now 60, did not testify in her defense during the trial late last year, which ended with her being convicted on five counts, including sex trafficking of a minor. Tuesday however, she spoke out 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.”
“I am sorry for the pain that you’ve experienced,” Maxwell said. “I hope my conviction … brings you closure.”
Prosecutors had asked the judge for 30 to 55 years in prison, while the probation department recommended 20 years. Maxwell’s attorneys requested a more lenient sentence between 4.25 year sand 5.25 years in prison.
Judge Alison Nathan calculated that the sentencing guidelines called for 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.”
“Today’s sentence will attempt to acknowledge the harm that Ms. Maxwell has caused,” Nathan said.
US Attorney Damian Williams praised the sentence and thanked the victims for testifying.
“Today’s sentence holds Ghislaine Maxwell accountable for perpetrating heinous crimes against children,” he said. “This sentence sends a strong message that no one is above the law and it is never too late for justice.”
However, defense attorney Bobbi Sternheim said Maxwell planned to appeal the conviction and, as she did during the trial, pushed the blame onto Epstein.
“We all know that the person who should have been sentenced today escaped accountability, avoided his victims, avoided absorbing their pain and receiving the punishment he truly deserved,” Sternheim said. “Jeffrey Epstein left Ghislaine Maxwell holding the whole bag.”
Thanks to our friends at CNN and the AP for contributing to this article.