Prosecutors need Ghislaine Maxwell to serve at the least 30 years in jail

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan, who wrote that Ghislaine Maxwell made the decision to conspire with Jeffrey Epstein for years to “work as an accomplice and wreak havoc on vulnerable victims,” ​​asked a judge Wednesday night to sentence her to at least 30 years in prison .

Ms. Maxwell, 60, is scheduled to be sentenced in federal district court in Manhattan on Tuesday. If the judge follows the government’s recommendation, she could spend much of her life in prison.

Ms Maxwell was convicted on December 29 on five of the six charges she faced, including sex trafficking, after a month-long trial in which witnesses testified that she helped Mr Epstein recruit, groom and abuse underage girls.

In a brief last week, Ms. Maxwell’s attorneys asked Judge Alison J. Nathan to impose a sentence that is less than the 20 years recommended by the court’s Parole Division. Lawyers suggested the government decided to prosecute Ms Maxwell following Mr Epstein’s suicide in 2019 in order to placate his victims and “restore the tarnished reputation” of the Justice Department and Bureau of Prisons, in whose care the in Disgraced financier died to “repair”.

The defense also suggested that Mr Epstein and her father, the late British media tycoon Robert Maxwell, were responsible for Ms Maxwell’s behavior, which they say was a cruel and intimidating parent.

The government dismissed those allegations in its letter to Judge Nathan on Wednesday, claiming if anything stood out about Ms Maxwell’s draft judgment it was her failure to address her criminal behavior and her “complete lack of remorse”.

“Rather than show even a shred of responsibility,” wrote the office of Damian Williams, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, “the defendant makes a desperate attempt to assign blame wherever she can.”

Prosecutors said Ms Maxwell’s attempt to “slander the government about her charges and her claim that she is being held responsible for Epstein’s crimes is both absurd and offensive”.

“Maxwell was an adult who made her own decisions,” the government added. “She chose to sexually exploit numerous underage girls.”

Ms Maxwell’s trial focused primarily on events from 1994 to 2004, a time when she and Mr Epstein recruited girls for him to molest, prosecutors charged. The government presented their case over 10 days through 24 witnesses. Among them were four women, all now adults, whose cases were the focus of the indictment.

Two of the women testified that Mr. Epstein began having sex with them when they were only 14 years old. Mrs. Maxwell was sometimes present at the meetings, one woman testifying; the other said Ms. Maxwell molested her directly by touching her breasts.

In the government’s sentencing, prosecutors said Mr Epstein could not have committed his crimes without Ms Maxwell, who gave Epstein a “cloak of seriousness that lulled victims and their families into a false sense of security.”

Indeed, the government said, Ms Maxwell worked with Mr Epstein to select victims she knew were vulnerable to exploitation – girls from families struggling to make ends meet, the daughters of single-parent households mothers, the child of a drug addict.

“Maxwell’s behavior was startlingly predatory,” prosecutors said.

Money was also a key issue underlying their criminal behavior, according to government directives. Her access to wealth, prosecutors wrote, enabled Ms Maxwell to “portray herself as a supposedly respectable member of society who rubbed shoulders with royalty, presidents and celebrities.”

“The same wealth blinded the girls from struggling families who became defendants and Epstein’s victims,” ​​prosecutors said.

The memo said it was difficult to put into words the harm Ms Maxwell caused her victims.

“They were children who experienced what can only be described as a recurring nightmare: repeatedly finding themselves alone with Maxwell and Epstein in horrific mansions where they were sexually abused and physically abused,” prosecutors wrote.

Mr Epstein, 66, was found dead in his cell in August 2019, a month after he was arrested for sex trafficking. An indictment accused him of sexually exploiting and abusing dozens of underage girls at his Palm Beach, Florida estate, his Manhattan mansion and other locations. He also paid some of his victims to recruit additional girls for the abuse in order to “keep up a steady supply of new victims,” ​​according to the indictment.

Ms Maxwell was arrested in July 2020 in New Hampshire, where authorities say she was in hiding. She was taken to New York and has been held without bail ever since.

In their submission to the judge last week, Ms Maxwell’s lawyers argued that she deserved leniency because she had endured extreme prison conditions since her arrest. For 22 months, her lawyers said, she was locked in a small isolation cell and under constant video surveillance.

But prosecutors said their complaints only highlighted “the wide gulf” between the conditions of their detention and their “lived experience,” which they portrayed as “extraordinary privileges,” a luxurious lifestyle complete with mansions, staff chefs and private planes.

“So it’s no wonder she found prison harrowing,” prosecutors wrote. “The transition from hand and foot service to confinement is undoubtedly a shocking and uncomfortable experience.”

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