Manhattan federal prosecutors, writing that Ghislaine Maxwell made the choice to conspire with Jeffrey Epstein for years, “working as partners in crime and causing devastating harm to vulnerable victims,” asked a judge on Wednesday evening to sentence her to at least 30 years in prison.
Ms Maxwell, 60, is due to be sentenced in federal district court in Manhattan on Tuesday. If the judge follows the government’s recommendation, she could spend much of the rest of her life in prison.
Ms Maxwell was found guilty on December 29 of five of the six charges she faced, including sex trafficking, after a month-long trial in which witnesses said she helped Mr Epstein recruiting, grooming and abusing underage girls.
Lawyers for Ms Maxwell, in a brief last week, asked the judge, Alison J. Nathan, to impose a shorter sentence than the 20 years the court’s probation service had recommended. Lawyers have suggested the government decided to prosecute Ms Maxwell after Mr Epstein’s suicide in prison in 2019 to appease its victims and ‘repair the tarnished reputation’ of the Justice Department and the Bureau of Prisons, in whose custody the disgraced financier has died.
The defense had also suggested that responsibility for Ms Maxwell’s conduct lay with two men who have since died: Mr Epstein and his cruel and intimidating father, British media tycoon Robert Maxwell, who died in 1991.
The government, in its Wednesday letter to Judge Nathan, dismissed those allegations, saying if anything stood out from Ms Maxwell’s sentencing submission, it was her failure to address her criminal conduct and her “complete lack of remorse “.
“Instead of showing even a shred of acceptance of responsibility,” wrote the office of Damian Williams, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, “defendant makes a desperate attempt to throw the blame wherever she can”.
Prosecutors said Ms Maxwell’s attempt “to disparage the government for prosecuting her, and her assertion that she is held responsible for Epstein’s crimes, is both absurd and offensive”.
“Maxwell was an adult who made her own choices,” the government added. “She made the choice to sexually exploit many underage girls.”