(EFE).- British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell was sentenced Tuesday to 20 years in prison for helping the late Jeffrey Epstein recruit, groom and sexually abuse multiple underage girls in the 1990s.
“A sentence of 240 months is sufficient and no graver than necessary,” United States federal Judge Alison Nathan said.
The prosecution had sought a minimum sentence of 30 years, while defense attorneys argued that their client should spend no more than 66 months behind bars.
With time off for good behavior, the 60-year-old Maxwell, who has remained in custody since her arrest in July 2020, could potentially be released before she turns 80.
The daughter of disgraced British publishing magnate Robert Maxwell (1923-1991) is appealing her conviction last December on five of six counts, including sex trafficking of a minor.
“Ms Maxwell directly and repeatedly and over the course of many years participated in a horrific scheme” and played a “pivotal” role in enabling Epstein’s criminal conduct, the judge said before pronouncing sentence.
The court heard Tuesday from several of the victims in person, while lawyers read statements from others into the record.
Maxwell, who declined to testify during the trial, took the opportunity to speak on Tuesday: “Your honor, it is hard for me to address the court after listening to the pain and anguish expressed in the statements made here today. The terrible impact on the lives of so many women is difficult to hear and even more difficult to absorb, both in its scale and in its extent.”
“Jeff Epstein should have been here before all of you,” she said.
“But today it is not about Jeffrey Epstein ultimately,” Maxwell said. “To you, all the victims … I am sorry for the pain that you experienced.”
The charges against Maxwell were brought by the Office of the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, which charged Epstein with sex trafficking of minors in July 2019.
The case against Epstein was formally closed after the 66-year-old financier was found dead in his jail cell in August 2019, in what coroners ruled a suicide, though experts retained by the dead man’s lawyers said he was murdered.
Defense attorneys insisted throughout the trial that Maxwell was being made a scapegoat for the crimes of Epstein.
The crimes attributed to Maxwell date to the years between 1994 and 1997, when she was in an intimate relationship with Epstein and also managed properties of his in New York City; Palm Beach, Florida; and Santa Fe, Mexico.
Epstein, the source of whose wealth was never entirely clear, numbered many powerful people among his friends, including former US President Bill Clinton, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Britain’s Prince Andrew. EFE jfu-syr/dr
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