Federal prosecutors recommended that Ghislaine Maxwell be sentenced to 30 to 55 years in prison, which would effectively be a life sentence for the 60-year-old former girlfriend of Jeffrey Epstein.
“The defendant stands convicted of sexually exploiting multiple underage girls,” prosecutors wrote in a filing last night. “Her crimes were monstrous, and the Court should impose a sentence that reflects her role in serious federal crimes.”
The filing comes ahead of Maxwell’s sentencing Tuesday in New York.
Maxwell’s lawyers argued last week that she should be sentenced to far less time, stating she is being punished for the crimes of the deceased Epstein, has never been charged with a crime before and was held in “extraordinary punitive conditions of solitary confinement” while in federal custody since her arrest in July 2020.
Prosecutors argued that Maxwell enjoyed extraordinary privileges while in custody and that her complaints merely reflected the shock of leaving a life of privilege.
“Going from being waited on hand and foot to incarceration is undoubtedly a shocking and unpleasant experience,” their filing said.
During her trial late last year, four victims testified about how Maxwell befriended them as teenagers – two as young as 14 – and groomed them to be abused by Epstein, the deceased financier who has been accused of abusing hundreds of girls.
One of the victims, testifying under the pseudonym Carolyn, said she was 14 when she met Maxwell and Epstein and recalled Maxwell telling her, “You’ve got a great body for Mr. Epstein and his friends.”
Maxwell was convicted of five of the six counts she faced, including sex trafficking of a minor, though U.S. Circuit Judge Alison J. Nathan, who presided over the trial, later threw out two of the five counts, finding that they were redundant.
In their sentencing submission, federal prosecutors also cited Maxwell’s crimes against longtime accuser Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who said she was recruited by Maxwell as a teenager while working as a spa attendant at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club, and another woman using the name Melissa, who said she first met Epstein when she was 16.
Maxwell’s lawyers argued she is being punished as a proxy for Epstein, who died in federal custody in August 2019. Despite numerous accusations of sexual abuse, Epstein escaped harsh punishment thanks to a deal he struck with federal prosecutors in the Southern District of Florida more than a decade earlier that allowed him to plead guilty to two state counts of solicitation, one involving a minor. He ultimately served only 13 months in a county jail and was regularly allowed to leave the jail to work from a nearby office.
Maxwell and Epstein were accused of facilitating the abuse of numerous girls and young women and of trafficking them to the pair’s famous friends, which included world leaders, celebrities and royalty.
Earlier this year Giuffre settled a lawsuit she had brought against Britain’s Prince Andrew, accusing him of sexual abuse. The suit was reportedly settled for roughly 12 million pounds, or about $14 million. Giuffre appeared in a notorious picture with Andrew and Maxwell taken at Maxwell’s London home, where Giuffre said Andrew assaulted her.
Epstein’s 2008 deal with federal prosecutors was the subject of the 2018 Miami Herald investigation “Perversion of Justice,” and led federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York to revisit his case and bring new sex charges against him in July 2019.
One year later, Maxwell was arrested on a 58-acre New Hampshire estate that she had toured under a pseudonym and that had been purchased by a shell company months before.
Maxwell has been held in federal custody since her arrest and was denied bail four separate times by Nathan, who deemed Maxwell a flight risk.
Maxwell’s lawyers argued that she suffered a traumatic childhood: Two of her siblings died and they wrote that she suffered physical and emotional abuse at the hands of her father, publishing magnate Robert Maxwell. They recounted one incident in which Maxwell’s father struck her hand with a hammer after she hung a poster of a pony using a hammer at the age of 13. Robert Maxwell’s mysterious drowning death in 1991, they wrote, “made her vulnerable to Epstein, whom she met right after her father’s death.”
Prosecutors argued that in making these arguments, Maxwell refused to accept responsibility for her actions.
“Instead, her entire submission is an effort to cast herself as a victim: of her father, of Epstein, of the media, of prosecutors, of the Bureau of Prisons,” prosecutors wrote.
In arguing for a lighter sentence, Maxwell’s lawyers also wrote that based on the timing of the crimes presented at Maxwell’s trial late last year, an earlier sex trafficking law would apply, with lower sentencing guidelines, and that additional aggravating factors, such as whether Maxwell supervised other people involved in the sex trafficking enterprise, don’t apply. They suggested that Maxwell’s sentence should be between four years and three months and five years and three months, significantly below the prosecution’s recommendation.
Such a sentence, prosecutors argue, “would send the message that there is one system of laws for the rich and powerful, and another set for everyone else.”
Former federal prosecutor David S. Weinstein said that whatever the guidelines are determined to be, judges still have latitude to go above or below the range.
“It would come as a shock to me if it’s not a double digit figure for sentencing,” said Weinstein, now a partner at Jones Walker.
He believes that impact statements submitted by Maxwell’s victims detailing the effects of Maxwell’s behavior on their lives could make a difference.
Two women, Liz Stein and Sarah Ransome, who have accused Epstein and Maxwell of abuse but did not testify at Maxwell’s trial, have sought permission to speak at Maxwell’s sentencing. It isn’t clear whether they will be permitted to do so. The Herald previously documented Stein’s attendance during Maxwell’s trial, a ritual that involved her waiting in line for hours to gain access to the courthouse. The day of Maxwell’s sentencing, she was denied entry to the courtroom. Prosecutors indicated in their sentencing submission that several of the victims who testified had written impact statements detailing the effects of Maxwell’s abuse on their lives.
Maxwell’s submission includes letters of support from several of her friends and siblings, including, Kevin, Ian, Isabel and Christine Maxwell. As the Herald previously reported, several of those siblings were the beneficiaries of transactions facilitated by a financial company called La Hougue based on the island of Jersey, in the English Channel. Documents from the Jersey financial company showed Kevin and Ian’s signatures on documents in the company files and show numerous unreported stock trades and irregular financial transactions that experts say appeared to be “badges of fraud.”
Absent from the letters of support was Maxwell’s reported husband, Scott Borgerson. While Maxwell has never confirmed the relationship, media reports suggested that the two were married and Maxwell’s spouse offered a letter of support for one of Maxwell’s four requests to be released on bail.
Also absent from the filings by Maxwell and prosecutors was any indication that Maxwell had cooperated with the government after her trial. There had been speculation that Maxwell could provide information about potential criminal activities of other participants in Epstein’s sex-trafficking scheme or other crimes, but neither Maxwell nor the government gave any indication she has provided any information to the government. As Weinsten, the former federal prosecutor, pointed out, cooperation deals often require waiving the right to appeal a conviction, and Maxwell’s legal team has made it clear it plans to appeal Maxwell’s case.
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