Ghislaine Maxwell, the jet-setting socialite who once consorted with royals, presidents and billionaires, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for helping financier Jeffrey Epstein sexually abuse underage girls, the Associated Press reports. The sentence was a victory for women who spent years fighting for justice after an earlier generation of prosecutors failed to pursue the predatory power couple. Epstein, who killed himself in 2019 while awaiting trial, sexually abused children hundreds of times over more than a decade, exploiting vulnerable girls as young as 14. Prosecutors said he couldn’t have done so without the help of Maxwell, his longtime companion. The sentence was shorter than the term sought by prosecutors, but Epstein’s accusers still expressed relief. A jury in December convicted Maxwell, 60, of sex trafficking, transporting a minor to participate in illegal sex acts and two conspiracy charges. The judge noted as she imposed the prison term and a $750,000 fine Tuesday that Maxwell never expressed remorse for her crimes.
Addressing the court, Maxwell empathized with the survivors and said she hoped her punishment would bring them peace. She did not admit culpability and laid blame for the abuse on Epstein, saying meeting him was the “greatest regret of my life.” The judge said Maxwell was punished for her “heinous and predatory” crimes, not Epstein’s. Four survivors at the sentencing described their sexual abuse. Annie Farmer was overcome with emotion as she addressed the judge. She said she and her sister tried to go public with their stories about being abused by Epstein and Maxwell two decades ago, only to be shut down by the powerful couple through threats and influence with authorities. “We will continue to live with the harm she caused us,” Farmer said. Over the past 17 years, countless women have accused Epstein of abusing them, with many describing Maxwell as the madam who recruited them.