A federal judge entered sex trafficking and other convictions on Friday against Jeffrey Epstein’s “longtime companion” Ghislaine Maxwell, after rejecting most of the arguments brought by her defense attorneys.
Maxwell did, however, notch a minor victory in securing the dismissal of two counts ruled to be “multiplicitous,” meaning that they charged the same offense.
Prosecutors agreed that one of these counts was repetitive, but a judge ultimately ruled that two of them were. Legal experts do not expect those dismissals to move the needle at Maxwell’s scheduled sentencing on June 28.
“In 2020, the defendant Ghislaine Maxwell was indicted for her participation in a scheme to entice, transport, and traffic underage girls for sexual abuse by and with Jeffrey Epstein, her longtime companion,” U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan began her 45-page opinion and order on Friday. “The Government at trial presented extensive witness testimony from multiple victim witnesses and others, as well as corroborating documentary and physical evidence. The testimony and other trial evidence established the Defendant’s role in grooming and recruiting underage girls and using the cover of massage to perpetrate sexual abuse.”
Nathan, who recently ascended to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, found that Maxwell’s “guilty verdicts were readily supported by the extensive witness testimony and documentary evidence admitted at trial.”
She also rejected a host of legal arguments by Maxwell’s team, except for the one on multiplicity. Prosecutors agreed that one of the charges fell into that category, but Nathan ruled that two were: a conspiracy to entice minors and a sex trafficking conspiracy charge.
For Nathan, these two counts involve the “same decade-long unlawful agreement with the defendant’s continuous coconspirator, Jeffrey Epstein.”
“The overarching conspiracy—which, as the government argued and proved at trial, employed a single ‘playbook’ to groom and sexually abuse underage girls—constitutes a single conspiracy offense with multiple victims,” the opinion states, noting the Constitution’s Double Jeopardy Clause prohibits the court from imposing multiple punishments for the same offense.
Attorney Mitch Epner, a former sex-trafficking prosecutor, did not expect that ruling to alter Maxwell’s sentencing guidelines calculation.
“The dismissal of the these two counts will not make any difference whatsoever in the guidelines calculation for Ghislaine Maxwell’s sentence, and is highly unlikely to make any difference in the actual sentence that’s imposed,” Epner, a partner with the firm Rottenberg Lipman Rich PC, told Law&Crime in a phone interview. “Because these are multiplicitous, meaning they’re overlapping with other charges, they’re already fully accounted for.”
By his calculations, Maxwell’s history and convictions will likely lead to a recommended sentence of 235 to 273 months under the guidelines, or roughly 20 to 23 years imprisonment. The sentencing guidelines are the formula prescribed by Congress to standardize sentences for criminal defendants. Prosecutors and defense attorneys often interpret those same standards differently, and a federal judge is not bound by its dictates.
Maxwell’s lawyer Bobbi Sternheim did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment.
This is a developing story.
Read the ruling, below:
(Photo via DOJ)
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