Ghislaine Maxwell latest news: what happened at sentencing hearing, and how long will she spend in prison?

The former partner of Jeffrey Epstein, Ghislaine Maxwell, was convicted of charges including the sex trafficking of minors

Ghislaine Maxwell has officially filed an appeal against her conviction and sentencing for sex trafficking.

During her sentencing hearing, Maxwell was told “nobody is above the law” as she was jailed for 20 years for luring young girls to massage rooms for Jeffrey Epstein to abuse.

The former socialite apologised to the victims for the pain they had experienced - but one of the women said afterwards that her statement “felt hollow”.

She is now trying to overturn her guilty verdict and subsquent 20-year jail term.

The 60-year-old, who was labelled “dangerous” by the prosecution during her three-week trial last year, helped entice vulnerable teenagers to Epstein’s various properties for him to sexually abuse between 1994 and 2004.

The socialite was convicted in December last year of sex trafficking minors, conspiracy to entice a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, and conspiracy to transport a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity.

Advertisement

Ghislaine Maxwell was sentenced after being convicted of sex trafficking following a month-long trial at a US federal court in Manhattan.

She was also found guilty of transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity and conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of minors.

What happened during the hearing?

Ahead of her sentencing hearing on Tuesday, Maxwell arrived with shackles around her ankles which rattled as she made her way to her seat in the courtroom in the Southern District of New York.

Wearing a prison-issued uniform, she spoke only to confirm she had read the pre-sentence report and discussed it with her legal team, saying: “I did have the opportunity to read it.”

Maxwell’s defence attorneys sought a delay to sentencing proceedings through a motion filed on Saturday, in which they said she had been placed on “suicide watch” and was “not permitted to possess and review legal documents”.

Advertisement

Her attorneys had also previously moved for a retrial after it emerged one of the jurors in her trial had failed to disclose he was a victim of sexual abuse, but her conviction was upheld.

Despite not being part of the indictment, the victim impact statement of the Duke of York’s accuser, Virginia Giuffre, was read to the court where she says Maxwell “opened the door to hell”.

Andrew has always strenuously denied Ms Giuffre’s allegations.

Others, Annie Farmer and Kate, read statements to the court, whereas five others were told they could only submit them in a written format.

Alison Moe, prosecuting, urged Judge Alison Nathan to impose an above guideline sentence of “decades” on Maxwell for her “essential” role in the abuse of many of Jeffrey Epstein’s victims.

Ms Moe asked Judge Nathan to take an “unflinching look” at Maxwell and the extent of her crimes.

Advertisement

“Her victims were vulnerable kids who found themselves alone in giant mansions, exploited by adults they thought would help them,” she said.

She added that Maxwell’s actions had not been a “one time thing” but that she had made the decisions to abuse her victims “week in, week out”.

Did Maxwell apologise?

Maxwell apologised to the victims and says she hopes her sentence will allow them “peace and finality”.

The British socialite said meeting Jeffrey Epstein was the “greatest regret of my life” and that she wanted to “acknowledge the suffering” of her victims.

“I know my association with Epstein will follow and and forever stain me,” she said addressing the court moments before her sentence was handed down. “It is the greatest regret of my life that I ever met Jeffrey Epstein.”

Advertisement

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 said the knowledge of the effects of her crimes “tortures me every single day”, and that she hoped the sentence “brings this terrible chapter to an end and…help you travel from darkness into the light”.

Prince Andrew’s accuser Virginia Giuffre is expected to give testimony at the sentencing of Ghislaine Maxwell (image: PA)

What did the victims say?

Annie Farmer, the only victim on the indictment to give evidence under her full name during the trial, was the first to speak.

Advertisement

Maxwell elected not to look at Ms Farmer throughout the duration of her statement, instead choosing to look straight ahead and occasionally take a sip of her drink.

Ms Farmer had to pause midway through her speech in order to contain her emotions, but continued to read her statement to the court in full.

Speaking outside court afterwards Ms Farmer said giving her statement felt “very powerful”.

The British accuser of Ghislaine Maxwell, who gave evidence under the pseudonym “Kate” during the trial, chose to read a different speech to the one she had submitted in a written format.

Speaking at the hearing on Tuesday, she said: “Ghislaine’s lack of remorse and blatant refusal to take responsibility for her crimes towards us is her final insult.

“Someone who even had a difficult or abusive father does not excuse sex trafficking of minors.

Advertisement

“A lack of remorse or responsibility from Ghislaine is exactly how we can tell that she doesn’t think what she did was wrong.

“She is not sorry and she would do it again.”

Ghislaine Maxwell with Jeffrey Epstein.

What did the judge say?

Throughout the trial, the court heard how Maxwell imposed a “culture of silence… by design” at Epstein’s properties, where staff were told to “see nothing, hear nothing and say nothing”.

Advertisement

Judge Alison Nathan said Maxwell’s prison sentence would be enhanced due to her “supervisory role in extensive criminal activity”.

The judge also ruled that the Duke of York’s accuser, Virginia Giuffre, should also be considered a minor victim in the conspiracy despite not being named on the indictment.

After considering a number of aggravating factors in the case, Judge Nathan said the guidelines would put the case between 188 months to 235 months imprisonment.

Sentencing Ghislaine Maxwell to 20 years in prison, Judge Alison Nathan told the court she “repeatedly, and over the course of many years participated in a horrific scheme to traffic young girls, some the age of 14.”

Maxwell was also sentenced to five years of supervised release and ordered to pay a $750,00 fine.

Judge Nathan said it was important that although “Epstein was central to this scheme” she was not being sentenced “as a proxy” for him.

Advertisement

She said: “The defendant’s conduct… was heinous and predatory.

“Ms Maxwell worked with Epstein to select young victims who were vulnerable and played a pivotal role in facilitating sexual abuse.”

The judge said Ghislaine Maxwell’s victims were forced to live through the “painful, horrific and lasting impact of that trauma”.

Judge Nathan continued: “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.”

What was said after the hearing?

Advertisement

Speaking outside court Sigrid McCauley, the attorney for Annie Farmer said: “Today was a towering day for justice.”

Of Maxwell’s apology she said: “That was not an apology, she did not acknowledge her crimes.”

While Annie Farmer said: “Her statement felt like it was a very hollow apology to me.”

Reacting to the sentence U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “Today’s sentence holds Ghislaine Maxwell accountable for perpetrating heinous crimes against children. This sentence sends a strong message that no one is above the law and it is never too late for justice.

“We again express our gratitude to Epstein and Maxwell’s victims for their courage in coming forward, in testifying at trial, and in sharing their stories as part of today’s sentencing.”