Ghislaine Maxwell prosecutors seek up to 55-year sentence for sex trafficking

Ghislaine Maxwell is scheduled to be sentenced on Tuesday morning in her New York sex-trafficking case, some six months after a jury found the British socialite guilty of luring teenage girls into Jeffrey Epstein’s orbit for him to abuse.

Maxwell, 60, faces up to 55 years in prison.

Some of Maxwell’s victims are expected to make statements at her sentencing. Maxwell maintains her innocence.

Epstein, a convicted sex offender who once counted Britain’s Prince Andrew and Bill Clinton in his circle of wealthy and influential associates, was arrested by federal officials in July 2019, on sex-trafficking counts. He killed himself in a New York City federal jail, while waiting for trial.

Maxwell’s attorneys have argued for leniency in sentencing, saying that she should receive a punishment “well below” the 20 years recommended by federal probation authorities. They cast Maxwell as a scapegoat for the crimes of Epstein – who could not be prosecuted because of his death – and a victim of childhood neglect.

“Ms Maxwell cannot and should not bear all the punishment for which Epstein should have been held responsible. Ms Maxwell has already experienced a hard time during detention under conditions far more onerous and punitive than any experienced by a typical pre-trial detainee, and she is preparing to spend significantly more time behind bars,” they argued. “Her life has been ruined.

“Ms Maxwell is not a dangerous criminal or a habitual offender. She is someone who wants nothing more than to live a normal family life – something she was denied because of her association with Epstein and will now almost certainly never have,” they contended. “The public does not need to be protected from Ms Maxwell and such considerations should have no weight in determining her sentence.

“She had a difficult, traumatic childhood with an overbearing, narcissistic and demanding father,” they also said. “It made her vulnerable to Epstein, whom she met right after her father’s death. It is the biggest mistake she made in her life and one that she has not and never will repeat.”

In their sentencing paperwork on Wednesday, prosecutors condemned leniency efforts.

“Ghislaine Maxwell sexually exploited young girls for years. It is difficult to overstate the magnitude of her crimes and the harm she caused. Her crimes demand justice,” they argued. “The government urges the court to impose a sentence within the applicable guidelines range of 360 to 660 months’ imprisonment.”

“Maxwell’s conduct was shockingly predatory,” prosecutors said. “She was a calculating, sophisticated, and dangerous criminal who preyed on vulnerable young girls and groomed them for sexual abuse.

“Not only did her conduct exhibit a callous disregard for other human beings, but her practice of targeting vulnerable victims reflects her view that struggling young girls could be treated like disposable objects.”

They also said: “The defendant acted as an organizer and leader of a massive operation that spanned many years.”

While probation authorities, and lawyers on both sides, make sentencing recommendations, the decision will ultimately rest with Judge Alison Nathan.

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