Source: news.sky.com : 2022-06-28 13:25:00 :
Ghislaine Maxwell has been sentenced to 20 years in prison with five years of supervised release following her conviction on five counts of sex trafficking.
Maxwell, 60, recruited young girls for her former boyfriend, billionaire paedophile Jeffrey Epstein, during the 1990s and early 2000s.
He abused girls as young as 14 at his properties in New York, Florida, New Mexico, and his private island on the US Virgin Islands Little St James, known by locals as ‘paedophile island’.
Judge Alison Nathan told the court: “The damage done to these girls was incalculable.”
The judge said Maxwell’s victims were forced to live through the “painful, horrific and lasting impact of that trauma”.
Judge Nathan added: “Those who engage in and facilitate sexual abuse will be held accountable by the law.
“Whether you are rich or powerful, nobody is above the law.”
Judge Nathan said Maxwell did not appear to express remorse or accept responsibility.
She described Maxwell’s conduct as “heinous and predatory”.
Annie Farmer, a woman known as “Kate”, said in court her experience of being exploited by Maxwell “resulted in significant shame” that sometimes left her feeling like she wanted to “disappear.”
“Today, I can look at Ghislaine and tell her that I became what I am today in spite of her and her efforts to make me feel
powerless and insignificant, and I will cast that empowerment on my daughter.”
Maxwell called Epstein a “manipulative, cunning and controlling man” who fooled everyone around him.
She said she was “sorry” for the pain that his victims experienced.
She said: “It is the greatest regret of my life that I ever met Jeffrey Epstein.”
Addressing her victims directly, she said: “To you, all the victims that came to today inside the court and outside…I am sorry for the pain you have experienced.
“I hope my sentence… brings you closure… peace and finality. To help you put those experiences in a place that helps you move forward.”
Maxwell’s lawyers had argued that she should be given a sentence of between four years and three months and five years and three months, having already served two in a New York federal jail.
They argued she has become subject of a media witch hunt over her relationship with Epstein, been repeatedly mistreated behind bars and placed on suicide watch.
But government prosecutors insisted between 30 and 55 years would be more appropriate.
She appeared before the District Court for the Southern District of New York on Tuesday morning wearing a blue prison shirt, with a longer white shirt underneath, glasses and a COVID mask.
Four victims gave evidence during her trial. Two of them and a further four were allowed to speak at the sentencing.
They included Virginia Giuffre, then known as Virginia Roberts, the woman who accused Prince Andrew of underage sexual assault – an allegation he strongly denies.
Annie Farmer, Teresa Helm, Sarah Ransome, Elizabeth Stein and woman using the pseudonym ‘Kate’ also gave emotional victim impact statements.
Maxwell approached 14-year-old eating an ice cream
During the trial a woman referred to as ‘Jane’ to protect her 22-year acting career said she was first abused by Epstein at the age of 14.
She was at a music camp eating an ice cream when Maxwell approached her.
Jane said later that year Epstein invited her to his house in Palm Beach, Florida where she was “frozen in fear” when he first exposed himself and started masturbating.
She said both he and Maxwell engaged in sexual acts with her.
£300 massages by underage girls
Another victim, Carolyn, who only used her real first name, said Maxwell would schedule appointments for her to give Epstein massages at the age of just 14.
She was paid between $300 and $400 (£227 and £303) each time.
‘Kate’, the other woman who used an alias at trial, said she was invited to have tea with Maxwell at her London townhouse in 1994.
Just weeks later she was invited back again – this time to massage Epstein.
The only victim who gave evidence at trial under her real name was Annie Farmer, who detailed how she was taken to Epstein’s ranch in Santa Fe, New Mexico and abused.
She said she was only 16 when Maxwell rubbed her breasts and Epstein forced his way into bed with her.
Some of the victims’ defence lawyers claim Maxwell and Epstein were responsible for abusing more than 160 girls when they were together.
He killed himself in prison in Manhattan while waiting to be tried on sex trafficking charges in 2019.
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