Ghislaine Maxwell sentenced to 20 years for sex trafficking

STORY: British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell was sentenced to 20 years in prison for helping the sex offender and financier Jeffrey Epstein sexually abuse teenage girls.

Speaking in Manhattan federal court before her sentencing, Maxwell called Epstein a "manipulative, cunning and controlling man" who fooled everyone in his orbit. She said she was "sorry" for the pain his victims experienced, adding, “It is the greatest regret of my life that I ever met Jeffrey Epstein."

In imposing the 20-year sentence, U.S. Circuit Judge Alison Nathan said Maxwell “participated in a horrific scheme to entice, transport and traffic underage girls, some as young as 14, for sexual abuse by and with Jeffrey Epstein" – and that Maxwell did not appear to express remorse or accept responsibility.

Bobbi Sternheim, a lawyer for Maxwell, said Maxwell would appeal.

“Our client Ghislaine Maxwell has been vilified, pilloried and it left little room for her to be treated fairly. Because even before she stepped forward into this courthouse she was being tried and convicted in the court of public opinion.”

Maxwell, who is 60, was convicted in December of five charges for recruiting and grooming four girls for Epstein, then her boyfriend, between 1994 and 2004.

Her monthlong trial in late 2021 was widely seen as the reckoning that Epstein never had. Epstein killed himself in a Manhattan jail cell in 2019 while awaiting his own sex trafficking trial.

Annie Farmer was one of four women who gave often emotional and explicit testimony describing Maxwell as a central figure in their abuse by Epstein.

[FARMER]: “Today this is a big victory.”

Maxwell's lawyers had proposed she serve no more than 5-1/4 years – while prosecutors had last week suggested she serve between 30 and 55 years in prison, but on Tuesday said the 20-year sentence would hold Maxwell accountable for what they called "heinous crimes against children."