Following years of ‘horrific schemes’ involving the sex trafficking of young women, British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell — who was closely associated with late sex offender and financier Jeffrey Epstein — was sentenced to 20 years in prison this Tuesday.
At 60 years, Maxwell’s charges come ‘too late’ according to some. Following her conviction in December, she was sentenced at Manhattan Federal Court for five charges, including sex trafficking a minor, recruiting and grooming four girls for sexual encounters with Epstein, between 1994 and 2004.
Despite the sentence and overwhelming amount of evidence, Maxwell remained defiant to the end, largely putting the blame on Epstein before being sentenced. She called her ex-partner a “manipulative, cunning, and controlling man” and described meeting him as the “greatest regret of her life.”
“I hope my harsh incarceration brings you pleasure,” she said to the onlookers. Many in the courtroom felt that Maxwell did not exhibit a shred of remorse for her actions, which US Circuit Judge Alison Nathan took note of.
“Maxwell directly and repeatedly and over the course of many years participated in a horrific scheme to entice, transport and traffic underage girls, some as young as 14, for sexual abuse by and with Jeffrey Epstein,” Nathan said.
“The damage done to these young girls was incalculable.”
A Long Time Coming
Maxwell’s trial in late 2021 was what several #MeToo supporters were hoping for — a reckoning that Epstein himself managed to escape, when he hung himself in a Manhattan jail cell in 2019, right before his own sex trafficking trial.
This formed the case for Maxwell’s own legal team, which sought to keep her sentence under 5 years at most, alleging that she was being scapegoated for Epstein’s crimes. This, however, wasn’t the way that Damian Williams, the top federal prosecutor in Manhattan, viewed the case.
“Although Epstein was of course central to this criminal scheme, Ms. Maxwell is not being punished in place of Epstein or as a proxy for Epstein,” said Williams, whose team aimed to lock away Maxwell for 30-50 years. The prosecutors called upon multiple statements from sexual abuse survivors, some of which came from all over the globe:
The testimony also included in-person statements from Annie Farmer, a woman known as ‘Kate’, and two other victims who came to the stand. Farmer, who is now a psychologist, shared her story of ‘significant shame’ to the court, while Kate took on a stance of empowerment, saying that she felt proud to hold Maxwell accountable.
“This sentence sends a strong message that no one is above the law and it is never too late for justice,” echoed Williams.
For many, however, it’s a bit too early to claim that ‘justice’ was served. Several Twitter users felt that while Maxwell’s sentence was not long enough, the real travesty is that the investigation failed to unearth the names of Maxwell’s actual clients — the people responsible for supporting Maxwell’s sex trafficking in the first place.
US District Judge Alison Nathan said the sentence of 240 months was “sufficient and not greater than necessary” for Maxwell. She has also been ordered to pay a $750,000 fine for her role in the crime.
Meanwhile, Maxwell faces a rough jail term ahead, having to contend with the multiple death threats she’s received from prison inmates.
(Featured Image Credits: Sky News)