Ghislaine Maxwell has been sentenced to 20 years in a US prison for recruiting and trafficking teenage girls for sexual abuse by Jeffrey Epstein and his high-profile network.
The Epstein scandal, which revealed that the mysterious American financier was involved in the sex trafficking of minors, was one of 2019’s most shocking revelations. Not least because this immensely wealthy and powerful man was intimately connected to dozens of household names from Bill Clinton and Harvey Weinstein to Donald Trump and Prince Andrew.
Epstein was found dead in his jail cell in August 2019 – before his case went to trial – an ending which meant that his victims never saw justice served for his crimes, or his own testimony in court. However, Maxwell, his chief aider and abettor, faced her own month-long trial in June 2022, during which a number of victims gave evidence.
After a worldwide hunt, Maxwell was arrested by the FBI in July 2020.
Cited as Epstein’s one-time girlfriend, closest confidante and associate, Maxwell was a phenomenally well-connected socialite and a close friend of Prince Andrew and as of 28 June, an inmate of a US jail cell, guilty of enticement of minors, sex trafficking children and perjury.
During the trial, she made a statement in court, directly addressing her victims as well as referring to herself as one. She said: “The terrible impact on the lives of so many women is difficult to hear and even more difficult to absorb in its scale and it extent. I want to acknowledge their suffering. I empathise deeply with all of the victims in this case. I acknowledge with that I have been a victim of helping Jeffrey Epstein commit these crimes.”
She added that Jeffrey “fooled all of those in his orbit” and that “victims considered him as a godfather, a mentor, a benefactor, a friend, a lover. It is absolutely unfathomable today to think that was how he was viewed contemporaneously. His impact on all those close to him has been devastating. I’m sorry for the pain that you have experienced.”
After the sentencing, her victims welcomed the result but described her statement as a “hollow apology”. Annie Farmer said following the trial: “It felt very powerful to finally have a chance to speak and have my voice on the record and say how her crimes impacted people and myself. Her statement felt like a very hollow apology to me. She did not take responsibility for her crimes that she committed, and it felt like once more than she was trying to do something that benefitted her and not at all about the harm that she caused.”