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Ghislaine Maxwell should serve over 30 years for 'monstrous' sex crimes, prosecutors say
23 June 2022, 10:45 | Updated: 23 June 2022, 10:47
Ghislaine Maxwell should serve at least 30 years for her "monstrous" sex trafficking crimes and role in Jeffrey Epstein's decade-long sex abuse of teenage girls, US prosecutors say.
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The 60-year-old British socialite was convicted in December of sex trafficking and other crimes after a month-long trial that featured evidence from four women who said they were abused in their teens.
Ahead of her sentencing next week, US prosecutors said she should serve between 30 years and 55 behind bars, reflecting the federal sentencing guidelines.
Defence lawyers said in a sentencing submission that she should spend no more than five years in prison and should not pay for Epstein's crimes, since he was the mastermind and principal abuser and "orchestrated the crimes for his personal gratification".
They claimed she deserves leniency, as it is "a travesty of justice for her to face a sentence that would have been appropriate for Epstein".
Epstein took his own life in 2019 in jail as he awaited a Manhattan federal sex trafficking trial.
Prosecutors said Maxwell's crimes were "monstrous" and she played an "instrumental role" in the horrific sexual abuse of multiple young teenage girls" between 1994 and 2004 at some of Epstein's palatial residences.
"As part of a disturbing agreement with Jeffrey Epstein, Maxwell identified, groomed, and abused multiple victims, while she enjoyed a life of extraordinary luxury and privilege. In her wake, Maxwell left her victims permanently scarred with emotional and psychological injuries," prosecutors wrote.
"That damage can never be undone, but it can be accounted for in crafting a just sentence for Maxwell's crimes," they added.
Prosecutors also urged the judge to reject Maxwell's pleas for leniency on the grounds that she has suffered in extraordinary ways in jail while awaiting trial and afterward.
Defence lawyers said she has faced death threats and harsh conditions that have caused her to lose hair and weight.
Maxwell's appearance at trial proved those claims were wrong, prosecutors said, adding: "The defendant is perfectly healthy, with a full head of hair."
Prosecutors said nearly all of the 22.5 million dollars (£18.4 million) in assets that Maxwell claimed in a bail proposal that was never granted was given to her by Epstein.
"The defendant's access to wealth enabled her to present herself as a supposedly respectable member of society, who rubbed shoulders with royalty, presidents, and celebrities. That same wealth dazzled the girls from struggling families who became the defendant and Epstein's victims," prosecutors said.
The sentencing submission also included quotes from letters written to the judge by women who gave evidence during the trial, including Kate, an ex-model from Great Britain who said "the consequences of what Ghislaine Maxwell did have been far reaching for me".
"I have struggled with, and eventually triumphed over, substance use disorder. I have suffered panic attacks and night terrors, with which I still struggle. I have suffered low self esteem, loss of career opportunities. I have battled greatly with feeling unable to trust my own instincts in choosing romantic relationships," she wrote.
A sentencing hearing will take place on Tuesday in Manhattan federal court.