Ghislaine Maxwell should spend up to 55 years behind bars — the maximum penalty under the law and effectively a life sentence — for her role in the “horrific sexual abuse of multiple young teenage girls” for a decade with the now-deceased infamous sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, federal prosecutors told a judge late on Wednesday.
The government’s recommendation falls just shy of a week before Maxwell’s scheduled sentencing date after a jury convicted her of most of the counts of her indictment, including sex trafficking and conspiring to lure young girls for Epstein’s abuse.
Maxwell’s defense attorneys argued that she should receive leniency because of the harsh terms of her pre-trial confinement, but prosecutors counter that the defense’s accusations of mistreatment are false and betray the 60-year-old’s “utter lack of remorse.”
“The defendant’s claims are inaccurate—and in fact, the defendant has enjoyed remarkable privileges as a high-profile inmate that vastly exceed the benefits accorded to the average inmate,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Maurene Comey wrote in a 53-page sentencing memo. “It is unsurprising that a woman who had led a life of incredible luxury should complain about her life as a prisoner, but that fact does not come close to meriting leniency at sentencing, much less the extraordinary degree of leniency the defendant seeks.”
Maxwell’s attorneys have claimed that the Epstein accomplice has been the target of a “credible death threat” by a fellow inmate who claimed to have been offered money to kill her and planned to strangle her in her sleep.
“This incident reflects the brutal reality that there are numerous prison inmates who would not hesitate to kill Ms. Maxwell—whether for money, fame, or simple ‘street cred,'” her lawyer Bobbi Sternheim wrote. “Ms. Maxwell has effectively traded the stress of flashlight checks every 15 minutes in the middle of the night while in isolation for the equivalent stress of having to sleep with one eye open—for as long as she is housed with other inmates.”
Investigating the “sensational” claim, prosecutors wrote that investigation showed it amounted to far less than Maxwell’s defense team advertised.
According to the government, another inmate at the Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) where Maxwell is being held remarked in passing: “I’d kill her if someone paid me a million dollars,” and that inmate was moved out of the housing unit after someone overheard and reported it.
“The MDC’s investigation revealed that the inmate had not actually been paid to kill the defendant and had not actually threatened Maxwell,” the footnote concluded.
Maxwell’s attorneys argued that the 20-year sentence recommended by the probation department would be “tantamount to a life sentence” for their client, who turned 60 years old behind bars this past Christmas. The lower end of the government’s sentencing guideline calculation is 30 years imprisonment. Prosecutors want a guidelines sentence. They added that they would have calculated the upper end of the guidelines at an actual life sentence, but the statutory maximum penalty by law is 55 years.
“Ghislaine Maxwell sexually exploited young girls for years,” the memo states. “It is difficult to overstate the magnitude of her crimes and the harm she caused. Her crimes demand justice.”
As for Maxwell’s relationship to Epstein, her legal team notably ducked the conversation in a footnote.
“As Ms. Maxwell plans to appeal her conviction, we will not comment on the events during this time period that were the subject of the trial,” Sternheim wrote, referring to the time of her client’s first meetings with Epstein.
Prosecutors denounced Maxwell’s attempts to change the subject from the conduct aired at her trial.
“Moreover, even now, at sentencing, the defendant has shown no acceptance of responsibility, and her submission fails to even mention, much less accept responsibility for, the harm she has caused her victims. Instead, her entire submission is an effort to cast herself as a victim: of her father, of Epstein, of the media, of prosecutors, of the Bureau of Prisons. Although much of the defendant’s sentencing memorandum aims to cast aspersions on the Government, these claims are baseless. This Office did what it always does in any case: it followed the facts and law. The investigation uncovered that the defendant committed terrible crimes, and that is what this case is about.”
The crimes of Maxwell’s conviction span for a decade: 1994 to 2004.
Some four years later, Epstein received a plea deal that dealt him a light sentence for soliciting prostitution and came with a non-prosecution agreement for his accused co-conspirators. A Miami Herald investigation into Epstein’s conspiracy and the deal renewed interest in their cases and sparked controversy about what was perceived as two systems of justice for the rich and power. Prosecutors say that Maxwell’s sentence must not continue that perception.
“The lenient sentence the defendant seeks would send the message that there is one system of laws for the rich and powerful, and another set for everyone else,” the prosecution’s memo states. “It would also send the message to victims that, even if they have the courage to report their abusers and undergo the excruciating experience of testifying in court, there will be no meaningful accountability.”
Maxwell will be sentenced on Tuesday, June 28 at 11 a.m.
Prosecutors indicated that they invited the witnesses who testified against her at Maxwell’s trial—the three who testified anonymously as “Jane,” “Kate,” and Carolyn, as well as Annie Farmer, who took the stand under her full name—to speak at her sentencing.
Read the government’s sentencing memo, below:
(Photo via DOJ)
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