Federal prosecutors have recommended that Ghislaine Maxwell be sentenced to 30 to 55 years in prison, which would effectively be a life sentence for the 60-year-old former girlfriend of Jeffrey Epstein.
‘Defendant is convicted of the sexual exploitation of multiple underage girls,’ prosecutors wrote in a filing last night. “His crimes were monstrous, and the court should impose a sentence that reflects his role in serious federal crimes.”
The filing comes ahead of Maxwell’s sentencing next Tuesday in New York.
Maxwell’s lawyers argued last week that she should receive a much shorter sentence, saying she was being punished for the crimes of the late Epstein, that she had never been charged with a crime before and that she was being held in “extraordinary punitive conditions of solitary confinement” while in federal custody since her arrest in July 2020. Prosecutors argued that Maxwell enjoyed extraordinary privileges while in custody and that her complaints reflected simply the shock of leaving a life of privilege.
“Going from waiting to incarceration is undoubtedly a shocking and unpleasant experience,” their filing reads.
During his trial late last year, four victims testified about how Maxwell had befriended them as teenagers – two of whom were as young as 14 – and groomed them to be abused by Epstein, the deceased financier who was accused of abusing hundreds of girls.
One of the victims, giving evidence under the pseudonym Carolyn, said she was 14 when she met Maxwell and Epstein and recalled Maxwell telling her: ‘You have a great body for Mr Epstein and his friends.”
Maxwell was found guilty of five of the six counts she faced, including sex trafficking of a minor, although U.S. Circuit Judge Alison J. Nathan, who presided over the trial, has by the subsequently dismissed two of the five counts, finding them redundant.
In their sentencing brief, federal prosecutors also cited Maxwell’s crimes against longtime accuser Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who said she was recruited by Maxwell as a teenager while working as a spa attendant at the Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club, and another woman using the name Melissa, who said she first met Epstein when she was 16.
Maxwell’s lawyers argued she was being punished as an agent for Epstein, who died in federal custody in August 2019. he concluded with federal prosecutors in the Southern District of Florida more than a decade earlier that allowed him to plead guilty to two counts of solicitation, one involving a minor. He ultimately only served 13 months in a county jail and was regularly released from jail to work in a nearby office.
Maxwell and Epstein were accused of facilitating the abuse of numerous girls and young women and trafficking them to the couple’s famous friends, who included world leaders, celebrities and royalty.
Earlier this year, Giuffre settled a lawsuit she filed against Britain’s Prince Andrew, accusing him of sexual abuse. The lawsuit was reportedly settled for around 12 million pounds, or about $14 million. Giuffre appeared in a notorious photo with Andrew and Maxwell taken at Maxwell’s home in London, where Giuffre said Andrew assaulted her.
Epstein’s 2008 deal with federal prosecutors was the subject of the Miami Herald’s ‘Perversion of Justice’ investigation in 2018 and led federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York to re-examine his case and bring new sexual charges against him in July 2019.
A year later, Maxwell was arrested at a 58-acre New Hampshire estate she had visited under an alias and which had been purchased by a shell company months before.
Maxwell has been held in federal custody since her arrest and has been denied bail four times by Nathan, who viewed Maxwell as a flight risk.
Maxwell’s lawyers argued she suffered a traumatic childhood: two of her siblings died and they wrote that she suffered physical and emotional abuse at the hands of her father, posting tycoon Robert Maxwell . They recounted an incident in which Maxwell’s father hit his hand with a hammer after he hung a poster of a pony using a hammer when he was 13. Robert Maxwell’s mysterious drowning death in 1991, they wrote, “left her vulnerable to Epstein, whom she met shortly after her father’s death.
Prosecutors argued that by making these arguments, Maxwell refused to accept responsibility for his actions.
“Instead, his entire submission is an effort to portray himself as a victim: of his father, of Epstein, of the media, of prosecutors, of the Bureau of Prisons,” prosecutors wrote.
In arguing for a lighter sentence, Maxwell’s lawyers also wrote that depending on the timing of the crimes presented at Maxwell’s trial late last year, a previous sex trafficking law would apply, with weaker sentencing guidelines, and that additional aggravating factors, such as whether Maxwell supervised others involved in the sex trafficking business, do not apply. They suggested that Maxwell’s sentence should be between four years and three months and five years and three months, well below the prosecution’s recommendation.
Such a conviction, prosecutors said, “would send the message that there is one system of laws for the rich and powerful, and another for everyone else.”
Former federal prosecutor David S. Weinstein said that regardless of the guidelines determined, judges always have the leeway to go above or below the range.
“It would shock me if it wasn’t a double digit figure for the sentence,” said Weinstein, now a partner at Jones Walker.
He believes impact statements submitted by Maxwell’s victims detailing the effects of Maxwell’s behavior on their lives could make a difference.
Two women, Liz Stein and Sarah Ransome, who accused Epstein and Maxwell of abuse but did not testify at Maxwell’s trial, asked permission to speak during Maxwell’s sentencing. It is not clear if they will be allowed to do so. The Herald previously documented Stein’s presence at Maxwell’s trial, a ritual that required him to wait in line for hours to gain access to the courthouse. On the day of Maxwell’s sentencing, she was refused entry to the courtroom. Prosecutors said in their sentencing brief that several of the victims who testified had written impact statements detailing the effects of Maxwell’s abuse on their lives.
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Maxwell’s submission includes letters of support from several of his friends and siblings, including Kevin, Ian, Isabel and Christine Maxwell. As the Herald previously reported, several of these siblings were the beneficiaries of deals facilitated by a financial firm called La Hougue based on the Channel island of Jersey. Documents from the Jersey Financial Company showed Kevin and Ian’s signatures on documents in company records and showed numerous unreported stock trades and irregular financial transactions which experts said appeared to be ‘signs of fraud’ “.
Maxwell’s husband, Scott Borgerson, was absent from the letters of support. Although Maxwell never confirmed the relationship, media outlets suggested the two were married, and Maxwell’s spouse offered a letter of support for one of Maxwell’s four bail requests.
Also absent from the documents filed by Maxwell and prosecutors, there was no indication that Maxwell cooperated with the government after his trial. There had been speculation that Maxwell might provide information about the potential criminal activities of other participants in Epstein’s sex trafficking scheme or other crimes, but neither Maxwell nor the government gave any indication that she had provided information to the government. As Weinsten, the former federal prosecutor, pointed out, cooperation agreements often require waiving the right to appeal a conviction, and Maxwell’s legal team has made clear its intention to appeal the case. Maxwell.