Ghislaine Maxwell was sentenced to 20 years in prison for her role in Jeffrey Epstein's sex trafficking scheme. File Photo by Rick Bajornas/EPA-EFE
June 28 (UPI) -- Ghislaine Maxwell was sentenced Tuesday to 20 years in prison for her role in Jeffrey Epstein's sex trafficking scheme.
Maxwell, who has maintained her innocence, addressed the New York court before her sentence was announced and apologized to the victims "for the pain you have experienced" saying she hopes her "conviction and harsh incarceration brings you peace and finality. My association with Epstein will permanently stain me. It is the biggest regret of my life that I ever met him."
Judge Alison Nathan explained her sentencing decision and why it was far shorter than the government's recommended 30 years. Nathan said Maxwell's crimes were "heinous and predatory" but that she should not be "punished in place of Epstein or as a proxy for Epstein" who died by suicide while awaiting trial.
Maxwell, 60, was convicted by a jury in December on five of six counts relating to the sex trafficking scheme in which she was accused of procuring young girls to be sexually abused by her boyfriend, Epstein. The former British socialite was found guilty of sex trafficking minors, transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity and three related conspiracy counts.
During the trial, four women testified Maxwell groomed them and sometimes took part as Epstein sexually abused them while they were between the ages of 14 and 17. Prosecutors said Maxwell was motivated by money and showed bank records indicating Epstein paid Maxwell about $30.7 million between 1999 and 2007, while Maxwell's attorneys argued the case was an attempt to pin Epstein's crimes on their client after Epstein's death.
Before Tuesday's sentencing, several impact statements were read in court with many of the women describing thoughts of suicide and substance abuse issues since meeting Maxwell.
"Maxwell is today the same woman I met almost 20 years ago -- incapable of compassion or common human decency," one of the women Sarah Ransome said. "Because of her wealth, social status and connections, she believes herself beyond reproach and above the law. Sentencing her to the rest of her life in prison will not change her, but it will give survivors a slight sense of justice and help us as we continue to work to recover from the sex-trafficking hell she perpetuated."
Another victim Annie Farmer blasted Maxwell's apology saying "Her statement felt like a very hollow apology to me," she said. "She did not take responsibility for the crimes that she committed and it felt like, once more, her trying to do something to benefit her and not at all about the harm she had caused."