Ghislaine Maxwell’s Attorneys Plead for Leniency in Sentencing

Ghislaine Maxwell’s Attorneys Plead for Leniency in Sentencing
Jeffrey Epstein associate Ghislaine Maxwell sits as the guilty verdict in her sex abuse trial is read in a courtroom sketch in New York City on Dec. 29, 2021. (Jane Rosenberg/Reuters)
Caden Pearson

Lawyers for Ghislaine Maxwell, the one time girlfriend of sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, have asked a U.S. district court in New York for a sentence that is “well lower” than the 20 years recommended by the Probation Department.

Maxwell was convicted in late 2021 for sex trafficking minors to the late Epstein, a wealthy financier with ties to elite figures in the British royal family and the U.S. business and political spheres. Maxwell’s bid for a new trial was thrown out of court in April.

Now, in court papers filed in Manhattan on June 15, attorneys for Maxwell claimed she deserved leniency because, while she facilitated Epstein’s abuse, it was the late financier who was “the mastermind” and “principle abuser.”

“Epstein avoided a significant sentence when he was first prosecuted in Florida for these offenses and then evaded any further punishment by dying a month after his arrest and detention in New York,” Maxwell’s attorneys wrote (pdf).

“But this Court cannot sentence Ms. Maxwell as if she were a proxy for Epstein simply because Epstein is no longer here. Ms. Maxwell cannot and should not bear all the punishment for which Epstein should have been held responsible.”

The attorneys also want the judge to consider the conditions Maxwell is said to have endured while being detained pre-trial in solitary confinement and during the pandemic, which they say have been more “onerous and punitive” than usual.

For these and other reasons, they argued that a sentence of less than 20 years would be “sufficient, but not greater than necessary.”

To support their claims, the attorneys provided letters from family and friends, a former employee, and a forensic psychiatrist who evaluated her in prison in a bid to dispute Maxwell being characterized as “a villain, rich heiress, and vapid socialite.”

In making their case for a lighter sentence, Maxwell’s attorneys said she had a “traumatic childhood with an overbearing, narcissistic, and demanding father” which they say made her vulnerable to Epstein, who she is said to have met right after her father’s death. This, they say, was the “biggest mistake she made in her life.”

They also asked the judge to consider the 60-year-old sex trafficker’s age, that she is being sentenced for so-called “non-violent offenses” that happened decades ago, and other factors such as the conditions of her pre-trial detention.

While justice was served for some of Epstein’s and Maxwell’s victims when she was convicted in April, an anti-trafficking expert has said that justice was not served overall since none of the clients of the sexual abuse were apprehended.
“Ghislaine Maxwell needs to be behind bars, absolutely. So justice there, but overall justice for combating the crime of sexual exploitation, absolutely no justice,” Jaco Booyens, the founder of SHAREtogether, a non-profit organization combating child sex trafficking, told NTD in an interview in January.

Booyens said that none of the people who were on the “demand” side of the crime, whose names are allegedly listed in a 97-page “little black book,” are behind bars. That book is sealed under an agreement between Maxwell’s attorney and prosecutors.

“The law failed to identify those who buy sex from children. Those who are the demand side of the industry need to be apprehended and need to be made an example of—again, that did not happen. We see a book sealed, we see names sealed, we see none of the buyers go into the witness stand. None of the buyers see jail time,” he said.

Maxwell is scheduled to be sentenced on June 28 by U.S. Circuit Judge Alison Nathan.

Caden Pearson is a reporter covering U.S. and world news.
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