Ghislaine Maxwell jailed for 20 years for sex trafficking young girls for Jeffrey Epstein

Undated handout file photo issued by US Department of Justice of Ghislaine Maxwell with Jeffrey Epstein, which has been shown to the court during the sex trafficking trial of Maxwell in the Southern District of New York. British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell has been convicted of helping American financier Jeffrey Epstein sexually abuse teenage girls. Issue date: Wednesday December 29, 2021.
Ghislaine Maxwell helped procure girls for sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. (PA)

Ghislaine Maxwell has been jailed for 20 years for luring teenage girls to massage rooms to help the sex offender and globetrotting financier Jeffrey Epstein sexually abuse them.

The sentencing is significantly below the 30 to 55 years prosecutors had demanded for her role in helping procure the girls for convicted sex offender Epstein.

The British socialite, 60, was convicted in December for recruiting and grooming four girls to have sexual encounters with Epstein, then her boyfriend, between 1994 and 2004.

The trial was widely seen as the reckoning that Epstein — who killed himself in a Manhattan jail cell in 2019 at age 66 while awaiting his own sex trafficking trial — never had.

Maxwell arrived at the hearing with shackles around her ankles which rattled as she made her way to her seat in the courtroom in the Southern District of New York.

Wearing a prison-issued uniform, she apologised to the victims of her abuses and said she hoped her sentencing will allow them “peace and finality”.

Undated handout photo issued by US Department of Justice of Ghislaine Maxwell with Jeffrey Epstein, which has been shown to the court during the sex trafficking trial of Maxwell in the Southern District of New York. The British socialite is accused of preying on vulnerable young girls and luring them to massage rooms to be molested by Epstein between 1994 and 2004. Issue date: Wednesday December 8, 2021.
Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell pictured at the Queen's Balmoral residence in Scotland. (PA)

Maxwell had been labelled “dangerous” and "shocking predatory" by the prosecution last year as the four women gave graphic and emotional testimony that Maxwell was a central figure in their abuse by Epstein.

Her lawyers had said she should be sentenced to no more than five years and three months, arguing that she was being scapegoated for Epstein's crimes and that she had already spent significant time in jail.

In a victim impact statement before the sentencing, one of her accusers, Virginia Giuffre, accused the socialite of "opening door to hell".

“Together, you damaged me physically, mentally, sexually, and emotionally," she said.

“I want to be clear about one thing: without question, Jeffrey Epstein was a terrible pedophile. But I never would have met Jeffrey Epstein if not for you.

"For me, and for so many others, you opened the door to hell. And then, Ghislaine, like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, you used your femininity to betray us, and you led us all through it.”

What was Maxwell convicted of?

Maxwell was convicted in December of sex trafficking and other crimes after a month-long trial that featured testimony from four women who said they were abused in their teens.

She was charged with six crimes and was convicted of five of them.

Her crimes related to her actions in recruiting teenage girls for Epstein to abuse between 1994 and 2004.

The trial heard the testimony of four women who said they were victimised by Maxwell and Epstein at young ages.

From left, American real estate developer Donald Trump and his girlfriend (and future wife), former model Melania Knauss, financier (and future convicted sex offender) Jeffrey Epstein, and British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell pose together at the Mar-a-Lago club, Palm Beach, Florida, February 12, 2000. (Photo by Davidoff Studios/Getty Images)
Ghislaine Maxwell pictured with Donald Trump, Melania Trump and Jeffrey Epstein in 2000. (Getty)

The women said Maxwell gained their trust by giving them presents, taking an interest in them and giving them assurances that Epstein could use his wealth and connections to fulfil their dreams.

They said Maxwell would coax them into giving massages to Epstein, which then turned sexual.

Maxwell’s defence lawyers had tried to delay the sentencing through a motion filed on Saturday, in which they said she had been placed on “suicide watch” and was “not permitted to possess and review legal documents”.

Her lawyers had also previously moved for a retrial after it emerged one of the jurors in her trial had failed to disclose he was a victim of sexual abuse.

However, her conviction was upheld.

Throughout the trial, the court heard how she imposed a “culture of silence… by design” at Epstein’s properties, where staff were told to “see nothing, hear nothing and say nothing”.

Watch: Ghislaine Maxwell loses bid to overturn sex trafficking conviction

One of Maxwell’s accusers, who testified under the pseudonym “Jane”, told jurors that as well as luring her to an orgy at the age of 14, the defendant and Epstein would fondle each other and giggle in front of her.

She also told jurors how Epstein would use sex toys on her “even though it hurt” and did not tell anyone about the abuse because she was “terrified” and “felt gross and ashamed”.

Maxwell’s trial also heard how she told another accuser, who testified under the pseudonym “Carolyn”, that she had a “great body for Epstein and his friends”.

Carolyn said the defendant had touched her breasts in Epstein’s massage room before telling her she had a “great body type”.

Jurors also heard how Carolyn had been introduced to the predatory pair through Ms Giuffre, and that she had been in the same room while Epstein and Ms Giuffre had sex.

The third accuser, who testified under the pseudonym “Kate”, said she had a schoolgirl outfit laid out for her by Maxwell before a sexualised massage with Epstein.

Kate said the defendant then told her to take Epstein his tea in the outfit, and when asked by the accuser why the outfit was on her bed, Maxwell said she “thought it would be fun”.

Ghislaine Maxwell outside her E. 65th St. Manhattan townhouse in 2015.
Ghislaine Maxwell outside her Manhattan townhouse in 2015. (Getty)

The jury was told Maxwell asked Kate if she knew of anyone who could come to her house and give Epstein oral sex because it was “a lot for her to do”.

The only accuser to testify under her full name, Annie Farmer, told jurors she was left “frozen” when the socialite asked her to undress for a massage and rubbed her breasts.

Ms Farmer said the defendant encouraged her to have a massage after teaching her how to rub Epstein’s feet at the age of 16.

Maxwell’s defence counsel had attempted to distance her from Epstein, but a series of photographs showed the close relationship the pair had.

Epstein was found dead in his cell at a federal jail in Manhattan in August 2019 while he awaited trial on sex trafficking charges.

The death was ruled a suicide.