Ghislaine Maxwell 'Must Die in Prison,' Victim Says

Live Updates
  • Ghislaine Maxwell has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for aiding Jeffrey Epstein in recruiting and trafficking teenage girls for sexual abuse.
  • The British socialite has also been fined $750,000 after normalizing abusive sexual conduct around victims as young as 14.
  • The 60-year-old appeared in court in person to hear the judge deliver the verdict amid claims of threats to her safety from prison guards and a dispute over whether she was suicidal.
  • One of her accusers said outside the court in New York that she should stay in prison for the rest of her life.
  • Maxwell was convicted in December 2021 on five out of six charges of sex trafficking.

The live updates for this blog have ended.

Ghislaine Maxwell Trial
Ghislaine Maxwell sentencing live. In this combination image, a photo of Ghislaine Maxwell (Left) , filed by her attorney on April 29, 2021, Ghislaine Maxwell with Jeffrey Epstein (Top Right) and Prince Andrew, Duke Of York and Ghislaine Maxwell at Ascot, England. US ATTORNEY'S OFFICE/Getty

Lawyers React to Ghislaine Maxwell's 20 Year Sentence

Neama Rahmani, of West Coast Trial Lawyers, told Newsweek: "I'm not surprised that Judge Nathan split the baby. It's less than what the Government requested, more than the guideline range of 15 to 19 years, and precisely what Probation recommended."

Ghislaine Maxwell Jailed for 20 Years—Meaning She Will be in Prison Until She is 80

Ghislaine Maxwell has been jailed for 20 years for her role in grooming girls for her pedophile former boyfriend Jeffrey Epstein to abuse.

The tariff matches the recommendation of the probation service before the hearing began and falls significantly below the 30 to 55 years requested by the Government.

It also comes in above the roughly four to five years her defense team asked for, though this may not be the end of the Maxwell saga as her lawyers have indicated they are planning to appeal her conviction.

She has also been fined $750,000 after normalizing abusive sexual conduct around victims as young as 14.

Maxwell was convicted in December 2021 on five out of six charges of sex trafficking.

Maxwell Witness Called Lawyer After 'Looking at My Own Baby Girl and Imagining Her Falling Victim'

Victims have begun reading their impact statements to Judge Alison Nathan, including a woman known only as 'Kate' who gave evidence at Ghislaine Maxwell's trial.

She described how becoming a mother spurred her to contact her lawyer, Brad Edwards.

In her statement, she said: "It has been proven to be true for me (and for many survivors of this kind of grooming and insidious abuse with whom I have spoken), that the experience of looking at my own baby girl and imagining her falling victim to such atrocities, awakened compassion in me for myself as a young girl and for the many, many others who suffered because of Ghislaine Maxwell. It was this experience that fueled a call to action."

She added: "The many acts that were perpetrated on me by Epstein, including rape, strangulation and sexual assault, were never consensual, and would have never occurred, had it not been for the cunning and premeditated role Ghislaine Maxwell played.

"She repeatedly reinforced rewards for acquiescence and consequences for disobedience.

"Being around her was like being spun really fast in a circle and then trying to maintain balance. It was like a roller coaster ride, designed to disorient and disempower me as a vulnerable, young girl, for the sole purpose of providing me to Epstein for sexual abuse.

"The best way to imprison someone, is to make them create the prison bars in their own mind, to instill enough fear to make sure they never risk leaving or disobeying and make the bars invisible to everyone, so that no one can see their cage, or hear their silent screams."

A shortened version of Virginia Giuffre's impact statement was also read by her lawyer.

Seen by Newsweek, Giuffre's statement read: "You could have put an end to the rapes, the molestations, the sickening manipulations that you arranged, witnessed and even took part in. You could've called the authorities and reported that you were a part of something awful.

"I was young and naïve when we met, Ghislaine, but you knew that. In fact, you were counting on it. My life as a young person was just beginning. You robbed me of that by exploiting my hopes and ambitions.

"Ghislaine, the pain you have caused me is almost indescribable. Because of your choices and the world you brought me into, I don't sleep.

"Nightmares wake me at all hours. In those dreams, I relive the awful things you and others did to me and the things you forced me to do. Those memories will never go away. I have trouble meeting new people without questioning if somehow they are going to hurt me, too. I don't allow my children to stay over at friends' houses, or to walk down the street alone.

"I don't trust anyone to be near them without me or my husband close by. I am hyper-vigilant, because I know that evil exists. You taught me that.

"There is not a day that goes by that I don't ask, 'Why?' Why, Ghislaine, did you enjoy hurting us so much? I worry every single day and night that you will get away with it and evade being punished. I will worry about that until you are brought to justice. And what should that justice look like? Ghislaine, you deserve to spend the rest of your life in a jail cell.

"You deserve to be trapped in a cage forever, just like you trapped your victims. But Ghislaine, I want you to know that while you tried to break me, you didn't succeed."

Ghislaine Maxwell Judge to Use Softer Sentencing Guidelines with 15 to 19 Year Range

Judge Alison Nathan indicated she is currently working off sentencing guidelines with a range between 15 and 19 years but could also step outside of them, Sky News reported.

The morning's legal argument focussed on which sentencing guidelines the court should focus on, and had there been significant evidence of offending later than November 1, 2004, Maxwell might have got a tougher sentence.

However, Nathan indicated she will be working off a more lenient set of sentencing guidelines than the ones the Government requested, Sky News reported.

The 15 to 19 year range is significantly below the 30 to 55 years prosecutors suggested in their sentencing memorandum and also slightly below the 20 years suggested by probation.

It remains significantly higher than the range Maxwell's lawyers requested, which was between four years three months and five years three months.

However, Nathan has not passed sentence yet and could still depart from the guidelines entirely.

Ghislaine Maxwell 'Must Die in Prison,' Victim Says

Sarah Ransome, whose impact statement described two suicide attempts after her abuse by Epstein and Maxwell, spoke to journalists outside court in New York alongside fellow victim Elizabeth Stein.

Quoted by the BBC, she said: "Ghislaine must die in prison because I've been in Hell and back for the last seventeen years."

She added: "I was 10 years old when Liz Stein was being trafficked. I was ten. That is how long this sex trafficking ring has been going on for. And it should have just taken one survivor to come forward for us to be taken seriously. It should not have been this hard."

Ransome's emotional impact statement, seen by Newsweek, read: "On one visit to [Epstein's private] island, the sexual demands, degradation and humiliation became so horrific that I tried to escape by attempting to jump off a cliff into shark-infested waters, but was caught by Maxwell and company moments before jumping.

"At the time, the extremely risky escape seemed more appealing than being raped one more time."

It added: "I have never married and do not have children, something I always wished for, even as a little girl. I shy away from strangers and have difficulty making new friends because I fear they could be associated with Epstein, Maxwell and the enablers.

"To this day, I attend AA meetings, but I have had numerous relapses and know that only by the grace of God do I continue to live. I have attempted suicide twice since the abuse—both near fatal."

Sarah Ransome at Maxwell Sentencing
Jeffrey Epstein victim Sarah Ransome arrives at Manhattan Federal court for the sentencing of Ghislaine Maxwell on June 28, 2022 in New York City. She submitted a powerful impact statement to the court. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Ghislaine Maxwell Brought to Court in Prison Uniform

Ghislaine Maxwell—who had a court room make over for her 2021 trial—was brought into court in prison uniform, with her ankles in shackles, the Associated Press reported.

The 60-year-old wore a white mask, in keeping with COVID rules, as she sat quietly through the first hour of the hearing, according to the news agency.

During Maxwell's trial, in December 2021, journalist Vicky Ward painted a very different picture of Maxwell.

She told Newsweek at the time: "Her uniform seems to be a wool sweater and pants and she's cut her hair shoulder length so it looks like it did when she was in her 20s. She's dyed it black.

"She looks incredibly relaxed and actually confident. I'm sure that is all part of a strategy to humanize her."

Maxwell's siblings were also in court today, sat in the row behind her, as lawyers argued over what sentence she should receive.

A Government sentencing memorandum, seen by Newsweek, read: "For over a decade, the defendant traveled with Epstein, a multi-millionaire, on his private planes and mingled with rich and famous people. As the defendant wrote in an essay, she and Epstein were 'a couple' who were 'rarely apart,' 'great partners,' and 'the best of friends'."

It added: "During the timeframe of the conspiracy, Maxwell received exceptional benefits from Epstein. Beyond the lavish lifestyle that she enjoyed side-by-side with Epstein, Maxwell also received a townhouse that Epstein bought for her in New York City, and Epstein transferred a total of approximately $23 million to Maxwell during the timeframe of the conspiracy."

Victim Elizabeth Stein Arrives After Statement on Jeffrey Epstein-Related Abortion

Elizabeth Stein arrived alongside fellow victim Sarah Ransome, with whom she shares legal representation.

The two women have been given permission to give deeply personal statements to the court about the impact Maxwell and Epstein's crimes had on their lives, though neither took part in the 2021 trial.

Stein's victim impact statement, seen by Newsweek, reads: "In one instance, they took me to Florida, insisted that I stay longer than planned which caused me to miss work and led to my being fired.

"Seizing on this new vulnerability, they began trafficking me to their friends. By that time, I was trapped.

"I was assaulted, raped and trafficked countless times in New York and Florida during a three year period.

"At one point I became pregnant (by whom I am unsure) and aborted the baby. Things happened that were so traumatizing that to this day I'm unable to speak about them; I don't even have the vocabulary to describe them."

Elizabeth Stein, Sarah Ransome at Maxwell Sentencing
Jeffrey Epstein's victims Elizabeth Stein (L) and Sarah Ransome (R) arrive at Manhattan Federal court for the sentencing of Ghislaine Maxwell on June 28, 2022. Both women have submitted emotional victims impact statements to the court. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Stein told the court how she moved to New York aged 18 in 1991 to study at the Fashion Institute of Technology and met Maxwell for the first time doing an internship at at Henri Bendel.

Part of her job involved hand delivering purchases to high end clients like Maxwell and it was during one such trip that Maxwell first preyed on her.

Her statement read: "When I arrived, the hotel concierge told me Ms. Maxwell was in the bar and wanted me to meet someone. It was Jeffrey Epstein.

"That night in the hotel was the first of many times they sexually assaulted me."

Stein added: "In the most literal sense of the word, Epstein and Maxwell terrified me.

"They told me that if I told anyone, nobody would believe me and if they did, they would kill me and the people closest to me. I believed them. I was once bright, fun, outgoing and kind.

"I loved life and people genuinely enjoyed being around me. After meeting Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell, it felt like someone shut off the lights to my soul."

Victim Who Tried to 'Jump Off a Cliff' to Escape Epstein and Maxwell Arrives at Court

Sarah Ransome did not take part in the Maxwell trial in 2021 but requested permission to give a statement in court and her request was approved.

She was pictured arriving at the New York federal court by the Associated Press for today's hearing after previously submitting a victim impact statement.

The filing, seen by Newsweek, described how she travelled to New York dreaming of a career in fashion but was left so desperate by her experiences with Epstein and Maxwell that she tried to take her own life twice, both of which were "near fatal."

Her statement read: "Over the next seven to eight months, I became, against my will, nothing more than a human sex toy with a heartbeat and soul for the entertainment of Epstein, Maxwell and others.

"Sometimes I was subjected to sexual predation multiple times per day, both in his New York mansion and on his private island St. Little James in the US Virgin Islands.

"On one visit to the island, the sexual demands, degradation and humiliation became so horrific that I tried to escape by attempting to jump off a cliff into shark-infested waters, but was caught by Maxwell and company moments before jumping.

"At the time, the extremely risky escape seemed more appealing than being raped one more time."

Sarah Ransome at Ghislaine Maxwell Trial
Sarah Ransome, a victim of Jeffery Epstein, arrives for the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell at the Thurgood Marshall United States Courthouse in New York on November 29, 2021. She has also arrived in for the sentencing on June 28, 2022. BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP via Getty Images

Ghislaine Maxwell Victim Annie Farmer Arrives at Court Ahead of Sentencing

Annie Farmer, who testified against Maxwell in the trial that convicted her, has arrived at federal court in New York alongside her lawyer Sigrid McCawley.

She was unwittingly introduced to Epstein by older sister Maria Farmer, who was working for the New York financier at the time but was unaware he was an abuser.

Maria and Annie would go on to become the first people to report Epstein's abuse and the sisters went to Vanity Fair to tell their story in 2003.

Annie Farmer At Maxwell Sentencing
Annie Farmer, a victim of Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell, arrives with her lawyer Sigrid McCawley at the US District Court for the Southern District of New York on June 28, 2022. Ghislaine Maxwell is due to be sentenced for sex trafficking. ED JONES/AFP via Getty Images

Annie is expected to read a harrowing victim impact statement which was submitted to the court on June 24 and describes how Maxwell and Epstein got their account taken out of the magazine's coverage.

Seen by Newsweek, it reads: "Maxwell had many opportunities to come clean, but instead continued to make choices that caused more harm.

"When my sister and I first spoke out to the media about what happened to us, Maxwell lied about us and threatened Maria, thus helping shut down investigations into Epstein's behavior so they could together continue to harm children and young women.

"After this attempt to alert people to Epstein and Maxwell's abusive behavior, I avoided being public about it for almost two decades. My shame told me that I should hide this fact because it was embarrassing."

Prince Andrew Photo With Virginia Giuffre Left One Victim 'Physically Shaking'

Victim impact statements have already been filed with the federal court in New York and are heart wrenching.

Annie Farmer, who was a witness in Maxwell's 2021 trial, described how the trauma of being abused comes back to her in waves, including when she saw for the first time the photo of Virginia Giuffre with Prince Andrew.

She wrote: "This toxic combination of being sexually exposed and exploited, feeling confused and naïve, blaming myself all resulted in significant shame.

"That sickening feeling that makes you want to disappear. It was not constant, but would come in waves, similar to the waves of anxiety that would also show up.

"When I think back, I see a slideshow of moments when these feelings would surface and overwhelm me.

"I remember sitting at my desk in a Houston hospital physically shaking after seeing the photo of Maxwell with Virginia Giuffre and Prince Andrew because it became clear to me how their scheme had continued; the time an unexpected security screening from a TSA agent who patted down my chest with the back of her hand left me crying and disoriented at the airport; a 40th birthday gathering where I broke down crying telling the story to some friends for the first time.

Prince Andrew, Virginia Giuffre and Ghislaine Maxwell
Prince Andrew puts his arm around Virginia Giuffre while Ghislaine Maxwell looks on in an image submitted by Giuffre's legal team to a civil lawsuit she filed against him. The Duke of York denied her allegations of rape and settled out of court. Virginia Giuffre

"There are too many of these moments to name, and though I have come a long way in my path of healing, I know that these feelings will continue to be triggered at times."

She added: "One of the most painful and ongoing impacts of Maxwell and Epstein's abuse was a loss of trust in myself, my perceptions, and my instincts. When predators groom and then abuse or exploit children and other vulnerable people, they are, in a sense, training them to distrust themselves."

Ghislaine Maxwell 'Wealth Dazzled the Girls' as She Met 'Royalty, Presidents, and Celebrities'

The Government's sentencing memorandum hints at the role Ghislaine Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein's friendship with Prince Andrew played in allowing them to present themselves as respectable.

Seen by Newsweek, it reads: "Money is a key theme underlying the criminal conduct in this case.

"The defendant's access to wealth enabled her to present herself as a supposedly respectable member of society, who rubbed shoulders with royalty, presidents, and celebrities.

"That same wealth dazzled the girls from struggling families who became the defendant and Epstein's victims.

"That same wealth enabled the defendant and Epstein to hire a parade of staff to transport victims and maintain the fabulous properties where those victims were abused."

Virginia Giuffre, who accused Prince Andrew of rape, also submitted a letter to the court on Friday, June 24, which spoke directly to Maxwell and outlined her experiences. The Duke of York denied the allegations and settled a civil lawsuit out of court without admitting liability.

Seen by Newsweek, Giuffre wrote: "I want to be clear about one thing: without question, Jeffrey Epstein was a terrible pedophile. But I never would have met Jeffrey Epstein if not for you. For me, and for so many others, you opened the door to hell. And then, Ghislaine, like a wolf in sheep's clothing, you used your femininity to betray us, and you led us all through it."

"Ghislaine, twenty-two years ago, in the summer of 2000, you spotted me at the Mar-a-Lago Hotel in Florida, and you made a choice," She added. "You chose to follow me and procure me for Jeffrey Epstein. Just hours later, you and he abused me together for the first time.

"Together, you damaged me physically, mentally, sexually, and emotionally. Together, you did unthinkable things that still have a corrosive impact on me to this day."

Maxwell's Lawyers Submit Letter From Prisoner: 'Genuine and Kind'

Judge Alison Nathan will hear harrowing accounts from women who say their lives were torn to pieces by Maxwell and Epstein.

Maxwell's team have also submitted a handwritten letter from a fellow prisoner at the Metropolitan Detention Center [MDC], in Brooklyn.

In a court filing, seen by Newsweek, Tatiana Venegas wrote: "When Ghislaine Maxwell first arrived in the unit, she introduced herself to everyone with a handshake. 'Hi I am Maxwell,' she says with a smile genuine and kind.

"It took all of us by surprise. Within one week of Maxwell arriving, she had volunteered to teach ESL, teach yoga, and help women with their GED."

Jeffrey Epstein Conspiracy Theorists Mobilize Amid Suicide Watch Dispute

Maxwell's team have asked the judge to delay sentencing on the basis she was placed on suicide watch despite, they say, not being suicidal.

A Government court filing argued Maxwell had reported a threat to her safety from prison staff and therefore needed to be removed from the prison population.

However, they said she could not be sent to the Special Housing Unit [SHU], commonly known as solitary confinement, due to concerns she might self harm.

The saga prompted conspiracy theorists to return to the circumstance of Epstein's death, in August 2019.

Alt-right political commentator Mike Cernovich told his almost 1 million Twitter followers: "Ghislaine Maxwell was put on suicide watch. They are going to kill her like they did Epstein, right in front of our faces."

Avi Yemini, of Rebel News, told his 314k Twitter followers: "Jeffrey Epstein didn't kill himself, and nor will Ghislaine Maxwell."

Epstein's death was ruled a "suicide by hanging" by the medical examiner in 2019, the BBC reported.

However, it triggered a wave of conspiracy theories after irregularities at the Metropolitan Correctional Center where he was housed, including CCTV footage of an earlier suicide attempt which was erased due to technical errors.

Epstein's own attorney David Schoen has said he does not believe it was suicide.

In February 2021, he told Newsweek: "I was told that on August 9, Mr. Epstein remained animated and gave every indication he was planning to fight the case vigorously as we had discussed. On August 10th he was dead."

Ghislaine Maxwell's Victims to Give Court Statements

Virginia Giuffre, Prince Andrew's accuser, is among six women who have prepared statements for the court outlining the abuse they experienced at the hands of Jeffrey Epstein, aided by Maxwell.

Two victims who took part in the original trial will be among them, Annie Farmer and a woman known only as 'Kate,' along with Teresa Helm, Sarah Ransome and Elizabeth Stein.

The statements will be harrowing and will outline how the women's experiences left their mental health shattered.

At least some are likely to be read in person, though a spokesperson for Giuffre's legal team told Newsweek she was not likely to be one of them, despite having been given permission to attend by the court.

Nigel Cawthorne, author of upcoming biography Virginia Giuffre, told Newsweek: "Hopefully, she will be very relieved by this outcome [at sentencing], that after all these years she will be vindicated."

However, the biographer said she may be unlikely to mention Prince Andrew: "As I understand it, under their settlement she is not supposed to repeat the allegation against Prince Andrew but it will no doubt still put him back in the newspapers."

Government Seeks up to 55 Years Jail for Maxwell

Prosecutors have urged Judge Alison Nathan to jail Maxwell for between 35 and 55 years and outlined their case in a lengthy sentencing memorandum, seen by Newsweek.

The filing read: "Ghislaine Maxwell played an instrumental role in the horrific sexual abuse of multiple young teenage girls. As part of a disturbing agreement with Jeffrey Epstein, Maxwell identified, groomed, and abused multiple victims, while she enjoyed a life of extraordinary luxury and privilege. In her wake, Maxwell left her victims permanently scarred with emotional and psychological injuries. That damage can never be undone, but it can be accounted for in crafting a just sentence for Maxwell's crimes."

Meanwhile, Maxwell's team has asked the court to sentence her to between four years three months and five years three months while probation suggested 20 years.