On June 28, 2022, Ghislaine Maxwell was sentenced to 20 years in prison and a $750,000 fine by Judge Alison Nathan of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit for aiding Jeffrey Epstein’s sexual abuse of minors. When deciding Maxwell’s sentence, Judge Nathan considered the parties’ sentencing memoranda, as well as statements from survivors and a statement from Maxwell. Judge Nathan also said she will recommend to the Federal Board of Prisons (BOP) that Maxwell be sent to the BOP women’s facility in Danbury, Ct., and enrolled in a female treatment program to address past familial and other trauma.
In January of 2022, we reported that Maxwell had long been accused of recruiting and grooming children for Epstein. Only after Epstein’s death and the subsequent release of a Netflix documentary, which details the abuse suffered by his victims, did Maxwell become a federal law enforcement target. The charges brought against Maxwell were a result of several survivors of Maxwell’s and Epstein’s abuse. The survivors testified that Maxwell was instrumental in building Epstein’s trafficking network. In addition, the survivors claimed that Maxwell facilitated and, at times, participated in the sexual abuse as well. Maxwell has always maintained her innocence.
Maxwell was first charged with enticing a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, transporting a minor with the intent to engage in illegal sex acts, conspiracy, and perjury during testimony. However, in March 2021, federal prosecutors filed a superseding indictment and added both: (1) sex trafficking of a minor; and (2) sex trafficking conspiracy to Maxwell’s list of charges. Ultimately, the jury convicted Maxwell of five charges: sex trafficking of a minor, transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal activity, and three related counts of conspiracy. The maximum prison term for each charge ranges between five to forty years.
Maxwell and the government asked for vastly different sentences. Maxwell focused on her hardships during childhood and argued that she had served “hard time” to justify a sentence well below the sentencing guidelines. In stark contrast to Maxwell, the government focused on the survivors and the impact that Maxwell’s abuse had on their lives. The government argued for 30 to 55 years to account for the harm done to Maxwell’s victims, as well as a $750,000 fine. The government used this harm to argue why Maxwell’s sentence should be above sentencing guidelines.
The CSE Institute commends the bravery of survivors of both for testifying against their abusers, and for detailing the impact the abuse had on their lives. Following Maxwell’s sentencing, Annie Farmer, a survivor, who chose to be named publicly, said, “May this sentence show that it is never too late for the truth to come out and that it is never too late for accountability.”
In addition, civil suits against Maxwell continue, including one in which Virginia Giuffre, another survivor who chose to be named alleges she was coerced into sexual encounters with Prince Andrew.
The CSE Institute will continue to provide updates on this case.
All views expressed herein are personal to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law or of Villanova University.