U.S. District Judge Alison J. Nathan handed down the sentencing in a New York courtroom, saying she wanted to send an “unmistakable message” that these kinds of crimes would be punished. Maxwell was also fined $750,000.
Federal prosecutors had sought 30 to 55 years against the former international jetsetter and British socialite, who has denied abusing anyone. Addressing the court on Tuesday, Maxwell cast blame on Epstein and expressed regret at ever having ties to him. She said she hopes her sentence brings a “measure of peace and finality.”
Annie Farmer, who was the only witness to testify during the trial using her real name, said Maxwell’s statement “felt like a very hollow apology” and that Maxwell “did not take responsibility for the crimes she committed.”
“There’s still a lot of work to be done on this issue, but for this fight, we need to celebrate the victory, and today this is a big victory,” Farmer told reporters. She added, “I still hope that we find out more about how that was allowed to occur.”
Maxwell’s defense team said it will appeal the judge’s ruling, saying it was unjust and Epstein was the one true villain.
“Clever and cunning to the end, Jeffrey Epstein left [Ghislaine] Maxwell holding the whole bag,” her attorney, Bobbi Sternheim, said outside the courthouse. “We are confident that she will prevail in appeal.”
The 60-year-old was convicted late last year of sex trafficking, transporting a minor to participate in illegal sex acts and two conspiracy charges related to the late financier. Epstein killed himself in 2019 while awaiting trial, according to authorities.
Epstein faced allegations of sexual abuse from scores of women, though the court in Maxwell’s trial focused on testimony from four women. They described being abused as teenagers with the help of Maxwell, who they said recruited them to Epstein’s homes after showering them with attention and offers of mentorship. Once at his properties, the women said they were instructed to perform sexual massages and were sexually abused.
“I was frozen in fear,” testified one woman, only identified as Jane, who said she was 14 when she first met Epstein and Maxwell. “I’d never seen a penis before.”
Attorneys for Maxwell, who was arrested in 2020, have claimed that she was being treated as a scapegoat for Epstein following his death and requested no more than five years as her sentence. Each of her charges faced her with a maximum prison term of five to 40 years.
“Epstein was the mastermind, Epstein was the principal abuser, and Epstein orchestrated the crimes for his personal gratification,” her attorneys said in court filings that sought leniency.