‘An adult who made her own choices’: Prosecutors recommend at least 30 years in prison for Ghislaine Maxwell

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In a court filing on Wednesday, federal prosecutors argued that Ghislaine Maxwell is expected to receive a prison sentence within guidelines for the crimes she was convicted of in December. A jury found the British heiress guilty of facilitating Jeffrey Epstein’s sexual abuse of minors, and the government submitted a sentencing note recommending between 30 and 55 years in prison.

Last week, Maxwell’s attorneys, in their own sentencing memo, asked for clemency: four to five years in prison. They argued, as they did at trial, that she had been the scapegoat for Epstein’s crimes. That argument didn’t make much headway in the press, on social media, or in court, and prosecutors began their sentencing note by positioning it as yet another reason to hold Maxwell accountable.

“If anything stands out from the defendant’s sentencing submission,” the federal district attorneys wrote, “it is her utter failure to address her infractional conduct and her utter lack of remorse.”

“Maxwell was an adult who made her own choices,” they continued. “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 damage to vulnerable victims. »

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Maxwell is expected to be sentenced in Manhattan federal court on Tuesday. The ruling will bring some degree of finality to her case – she plans to appeal her conviction post-conviction – but the narrow scope of the legal proceedings means the wider story of Epstein’s wealth and crimes still contains a considerable mystery. On Wednesday, federal prosecutors noted that the trial record made it clear that many other victims, aside from those who testified in November and December, were harmed by Maxwell and Epstein’s sex abuse scheme. They pieced together what they could of Maxwell’s involvement in all of this, pointing out that in addition to procuring Epstein’s victims, she sometimes participated in the abuse herself.

Prosecutors have repeatedly noted the extent of Maxwell’s wealth and the financial and social benefits she received through her connection to Epstein. “Beyond the lavish lifestyle she enjoyed alongside Epstein,” they wrote, “Maxwell also received a townhouse Epstein bought for her in New York, and Epstein transferred a total of approximately $23 million to Maxwell during the conspiracy period.”

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Victims who testified at Maxwell’s trial often cited the struggles they went through when they first met the socialite and she introduced them to Epstein. “While there are many troubling aspects to the defendant’s conduct,” prosecutors wrote Wednesday, “what is apparent from the trial record is that she worked with Epstein to select victims whose she knew they were vulnerable to exploitation.”

“It’s no coincidence that all of Maxwell’s victims came from single-parent families,” they added. “Not only did his conduct show callous disregard for other human beings, but his practice of targeting vulnerable victims reflects his view that troubled young girls could be treated like disposable objects.”

The extent of Maxwell’s privilege as a child and an adult also served as the basis for the government’s response to some of the mitigating factors his lawyers argued last week. Maxwell’s lawyers had claimed that her father, disgraced publishing magnate Robert Maxwell, verbally and physically abused her as a child. “Although the defendant had a slightly less positive experience than other exceptionally wealthy children,” prosecutors wrote, “it is difficult to see how harsh conversation at the family dinner table is an excuse to participate. to a program of child exploitation”.

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For most of Maxwell’s time in a federal prison in Brooklyn since his arrest in July 2020, his complaints about the conditions there have been a major topic of coverage of his case. Last week, her lawyers argued that the suffering she endured there should warrant a reduction in her sentence. Prosecutors argued Wednesday that she had in fact received better treatment at the Metropolitan Detention Center than the average inmate, and that her arguments about the facility amounted to paid groans. “Going from waiting to incarceration is undoubtedly a shocking and unpleasant experience,” they wrote.

On that note, the memo went back, as Maxwell’s case often did, to wealth. “Money is a key theme underlying the criminal conduct in this case,” prosecutors wrote. Her financial position, they argued, gave her access to celebrities and victims, and maintaining that position motivated her to provide teenage girls to Epstein: “That wealth was the defendant’s reward.”

The post ‘An adult who made his own choices’: Prosecutors recommend at least 30 years in prison for Ghislaine Maxwell appeared first on Vanity Fair.

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