BROOKLYN, NY. (CW44 News At 10 | CNN) – Federal prosecutors on Wednesday asked a judge in a court filing to sentence Ghislaine Maxwell to 30 to 55 years in prison for sex trafficking a minor and other sprawling conspiracy charges for abusing young girls with Jeffrey Epstein.
“Maxwell was an adult who made her own choices. She made the choice to sexually exploit many underage girls. She made the choice to conspire with Epstein for years, working as partners in crime and causing devastating harm to vulnerable victims,” prosecutors wrote in the sentencing memo. “She should be held accountable for her disturbing role in a massive child exploitation scheme.”
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Maxwell’s lawyers last week asked a judge to sentence her to between 4.25 and 5.25 years in prison, saying her difficult childhood made her vulnerable to Epstein and that she should not be given a sentence. severe punishment for his actions.
“But this Court cannot convict Ms. Maxwell as if she were an agent for Epstein simply because Epstein is no longer there,” his lawyers wrote in their sentencing recommendation. “Ms. Maxwell cannot and should not bear all the punishment for which Epstein should have been held responsible.
Epstein, who pleaded guilty in 2008 to prostitution charges in the state, was charged with federal sex trafficking in July 2019 but died by suicide in prison a month later. Maxwell, his confidante and former girlfriend, was arrested a year later and has since been imprisoned.
In the sentencing note, the Crown wrote that the defense argument was “absurd and offensive”.
“The lenient sentence sought by the defendant would send the message that there is one system of laws for the rich and powerful, and another for everyone else,” prosecutors wrote.
The filing comes a week before his scheduled June 28 sentencing. Maxwell, 60, was convicted of five federal counts in December: sex trafficking of a minor, transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity and three related counts of conspiracy.
However, she will only be sentenced on three counts after the judge presiding over her case agreed that two of the conspiracy counts she faced were repetitive.
The probation service recommended a 20-year sentence, below sentencing guidelines.
During his trial late last year, prosecutors argued that Maxwell and Epstein conspired to set up a scheme to lure young girls into sexual relationships with Epstein from 1994 to 2004 in New York City, in Florida, New Mexico and the US Virgin Islands. Four women testified during the trial that Epstein abused them and that Maxwell facilitated and sometimes participated in the abuse.
Her defense, meanwhile, said she was a “scapegoat” for Epstein’s actions and attacked the memories and motivations of women who said they were sexually abused.
What the prosecution’s sentencing memorandum says
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Prosecutors described Maxwell’s conduct as “surprisingly predatory”, calling her “a calculating, sophisticated and dangerous criminal who preyed on vulnerable young girls and set them up for sexual abuse”.
“Maxwell’s victims trusted her: she was a seemingly respectable woman who cared about them and promised to help them. She was key to the entire operation of the scheme, and Epstein could not have committed these crimes without her,” prosecutors wrote.
The U.S. attorneys also said Maxwell “lived a remarkable life of privilege, living in luxury and moving in social circles among celebrities and the powerful”, contradicting her attorney’s claims that she had a difficult upbringing.
In fact, it was his wealth and status that may have “provided a cover of respectability to Epstein that lulled the victims and their families into a false sense of security,” prosecutors argued.
“Although many defendants appear in sentencing courts with compelling mitigating factors due to difficult upbringings, Maxwell is not one of them,” prosecutors wrote. “While the defendant may have had a slightly less positive experience than other exceptionally wealthy children, it is difficult to see the extent to which a stern conversation at the family dinner table is an excuse to participate in a program of child exploitation.”
Prosecutors said Maxwell showed no acceptance of responsibility for the harm she caused her victims. Rather, she attempted to portray herself as a victim, the memo states.
In the defense filing, Maxwell’s attorneys said her time behind bars was a “disproportionate pre-conviction punishment” that will not end now that she is housed with the general population. Her lawyers claimed she was recently threatened by an inmate in her unit who allegedly told her that another 20 years in prison was worth “the money” she would receive for killing Maxwell.
Her lawyers have also argued that she was the subject of multiple pat-downs a day where she alleges “being sexually inappropriately touched by correctional officers” on multiple occasions.
However, prosecutors said her claims that she was treated unfairly were inaccurate. Maxwell has ‘enjoyed remarkable privileges as a high-level inmate that far exceed the perks afforded to the average inmate’, including access to a private shower, television, desktop computer, laptop and her own space to spend time outside his cell, the note says.
Prosecutors are also asking the court to impose a maximum allowable fine of $750,000.
“As part of a disturbing deal with Jeffrey Epstein, Maxwell identified, cared for and abused multiple victims, while enjoying a life of extraordinary luxury and privilege,” the prosecution wrote. “In his wake, Maxwell left his victims permanently scarred with emotional and psychological wounds. This damage can never be undone, but it can be factored into crafting a just sentence for Maxwell’s crimes.
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