Ghislaine Maxwell, an associate of Jeffrey Epstein who lured underage girls, was sentenced to 20 years on five criminal counts, including sex trafficking. 

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said the sentence holds her accountable “for perpetrating heinous crimes against children.”

“This sentence sends a strong message that no one is above the law and it is never too late for justice,” Williams said. “We again express our gratitude to Epstein and Maxwell’s victims for their courage in coming forward, in testifying at trial, and in sharing their stories as part of today’s sentencing.”

According to New York City federal prosecutors, Epstein, who died of suicide while in jail, and Maxwell, 60, were partners in crime who sexually exploited young girls. 

Prosecutors claim that Maxwell and Epstein have particular victims as the four who testified against them came from single-mother households. The perpetrators isolated the victims and showered them with gifts, flattery, and promises of careers. Prosecutors Alison Moe described these as grooming and abuse. 

“Ghislaine Maxwell played an instrumental role in the horrific sexual abuse of multiple young teenage girls,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum. “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.”

Maxwell maintains her innocence and accuses the government of treating her as Epstein’s proxy. She also asked the judge to impose a sentence below the maximum of 55 years. 

“The witnesses at trial testified about Ms. Maxwell’s facilitation of Epstein’s abuse, but Epstein was always the central figure: Epstein was the mastermind, Epstein was the principal abuser, and Epstein orchestrated the crimes for his personal gratification,” defense attorneys said in their sentencing memorandum. “Indeed, had Ghislaine Maxwell never had the profound misfortune of meeting Jeffrey Epstein over 30 years ago, she would not be here.”

Prosecutors, who handle the case with two dozen witnesses, said Maxwell made a choice to sexually exploit numerous underage girls from at least 1994 to 2004. 

Two testified victims said they were 14 when Epstein began to abuse them, sometimes with Maxwell directly involved. 

“She personally engaged in sexual abuse when she fondled the breasts of Jane, Annie, and Carolyn. And she used her role as a supposedly respectable, glamorous, older woman to lure these victims into a false sense of security,” prosecutors said.