Ghislaine Maxwell lawyers seek to exclude victim statements

Ghislaine Maxwell’s lawyers are fighting to keep several accusers from providing victim impact statements at her sentencing for sex trafficking on Tuesday. The British socialite’s legal team argued in court filings on Friday that four accusers’ ages meant that they were not “statutory crime victims” who would have the right to speak at sentencing.

In making their arguments, Maxwell’s legal team publicly included three impact statements, which were submitted to Judge Alison Nathan in advance of sentencing; this appears to be an unusual move, as prosecutors typically file these remarks. This seemingly unusual move also means that Maxwell’s lawyers – not the victims and not those representing them – made the decision about when the victims’ words would be public.

Maxwell’s team said that they were provided with statements from Annie Farmer, “Kate”, Virginia Giuffre, Maria Farmer, Sarah Ransome, Teresa Helm and Juliette Bryant. Annie Farmer and “Kate”, who both testified at trial, were victims in the indictment against Maxwell; Giuffre was a minor during her interactions with her and Jeffrey Epstein.

The defense has taken issue with Maria Farmer, Ransome, Helm and Byrant providing statements, arguing that Maxwell was not charged and convicted based upon their allegations. They contend that Maria Farmer, Ransome and Helm were adults during their alleged encounters with Maxwell – and that Bryant’s then age remains unknown – further undermining their legal right to speak at sentencing.

“Allegations alone do not serve to automatically qualify the individuals as statutory victims under the CVRA,” Maxwell’s team wrote, referring to the Crime Victims Rights Act, later arguing, “Neither the superseding indictment nor the court’s jury instructions support a position that anyone who was not a minor is a ‘victim’ of the counts of conviction.”

“The involvement of a minor is an essential element of the federal offense conduct,” they also said. “None of these individuals testified at trial and their credibility remains unexamined. Regarding the charges in this case, they do not qualify as victims under the CVRA.”

Maxwell was convicted on 29 December of sex trafficking and related charges in her Manhattan federal court case for procuring girls, some as young as 14, for Epstein to abuse. She faces up to 55 years’ imprisonment when Nathan hands down her punishment.

Epstein, the late financier and convicted sex offender, was arrested in July 2019 for sex trafficking; he killed himself in jail about one month later. Maxwell was arrested one year after his arrest.

The victim statements submitted to Nathan that were made public describe the harrowing emotional impact of abuse. Annie Farmer, who testified that Maxwell gave her a nude massage at Epstein’s New Mexico ranch when she was just 16, said: “This toxic combination of being sexually exposed and exploited, feeling confused and naive, blaming myself all resulted in significant shame. That sickening feeling that makes you want to disappear.

“Once arrested, Maxwell faced another choice. She could admit her participation in this scheme, acknowledge the harm caused or even provide information that could have helped hold others accountable,” Annie Farmer wrote. “Instead, she again chose to lie about her behavior, causing additional harm to all of those she victimized.”

“Kate”, who testified that Maxwell lured her into sexual encounters with Epstein at age 17, said: “The many acts that were perpetrated on me by Epstein, including [redacted] sexual assault, were never consensual, and would have never occurred, had it not been for the cunning and premeditated role Ghislaine Maxwell played.

“The consequences of what Ghislaine Maxwell did have been far reaching for me. I have struggled with, and eventually triumphed over, substance use disorder,” she wrote. “I have suffered panic attacks and night terrors, with which I still struggle. I have suffered low self-esteem, loss of career opportunities.”

Giuffre did not testify, but trial evidence supported that she was a minor when Maxwell and Epstein’s abuse occurred. “Together, you damaged me physically, mentally, sexually, and emotionally,” said Giuffre, who as 16 when Maxwell brought her into Epstein’s orbit. “Together, you did unthinkable things that still have a corrosive impact on me to this day.

“I want to be clear about one thing: without question, Jeffrey Epstein was a terrible pedophile. But I never would have met Jeffrey Epstein if not for you,” she said. “For me, and for so many others, you opened the door to hell. And then, Ghislaine, like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, you used your femininity to betray us, and you led us all through it.”

In their filing, Maxwell’s team also included blacked-out versions of statements from those whom they allege are not victims, and argued that they should remain secret. “Their victim impact statements are unduly prejudicial, contain allegations not previously before the court which serve to inflame the emotions of the court and public.

“Their airing during sentencing or any consideration by the court in imposing sentence, would violate Ms Maxwell’s due process rights,” they also said. “We object to the publication of the impact statement of the individuals.”

Maxwell’s lead attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Maxwell maintains her innocence.

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