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Ghislaine Maxwell has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for helping Jeffrey Epstein abuse young girls

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Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell

Announcing the sentence, Judge Alison J Nathan said Maxwell’s conduct had been “heinous and predatory”.

Updated 29 June: Ghislaine Maxwell has been sentenced to 20 years in a US prison for recruiting and trafficking girls for sexual abuse by Jeffrey Epstein.

Announcing the sentence, Judge Alison J Nathan said Maxwell’s conduct had been “heinous and predatory”.

“Ms Maxwell worked with Epstein to select young victims who were vulnerable and played a pivotal role in facilitating sexual abuse,” she added.

Addressing the court before her sentence was announced, Maxwell spoke directly to the victims of her crimes, saying she was “sorry for the pain” they had experienced. 

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“I empathise deeply with all the victims in this case,” she said. “I realise I have been convicted of assisting Jeffrey Epstein to commit these crimes. My association with Epstein will permanently stain me. It is the biggest regret of my life that I ever met him.”

She continued: “I believe Jeffrey Epstein fooled all of those in his orbit. His victims considered him a mentor, friend, lover. Jeffrey Epstein should have stood before you. In 2005. In 2009. And again in 2019. But today it is for me to be sentenced.

“I hope my conviction and harsh incarceration brings you peace and finality. I hope this date brings a terrible chapter to the end.” 

Maxwell’s lawyers have said she plans to appeal her sentence.

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In the lead-up to the trial, one of Maxwell’s victims Virginia Giuffre spoke out about the “almost indescribable” pain Ghislaine Maxwell caused her in a victim impact statement.

In her statement, Giuffre – who was one of seven women to submit a letter to the judge – described Maxwell as “a wolf in sheep’s clothing” who “opened the door to hell” by introducing her to Epstein. 

“Ghislaine, 22 years ago, in the summer of 2000, you spotted me at the Mar-a-Lago Hotel in Florida, and you made a choice,” she wrote.

“You chose to follow me and procure me for Jeffrey Epstein. Just hours later, you and he abused me together for the first time. Together, you damaged me physically, mentally, sexually, and emotionally. Together, you did unthinkable things that still have a corrosive impact on me to this day.”

Giuffre also described the continued impact her experiences have on her to this day, saying that Maxwell took advantage of her youth and naivety.  

“Ghislaine, the pain you have caused me is almost indescribable,” she explained. “Because of your choices and the world you brought me into, I don’t sleep. Nightmares wake me at all hours. In those dreams, I relive the awful things you and others did to me and the things you forced me to do. Those memories will never go away.

“I have trouble meeting new people without questioning if somehow they are going to hurt me, too. I don’t allow my children to stay over at friends’ houses, or to walk down the street alone. I don’t trust anyone to be near them without me or my husband close by. I am hyper-vigilant, because I know that evil exists. You taught me that.”

While Giuffre did not play a role in Maxwell’s trial, she became one of the most well-known of Epstein’s accusers after bringing a civil sexual assault case against Prince Andrew in 2021. In the suit, Giuffre alleged that she was forced by Epstein on several occasions to have sex with the Duke of York, who has always strenuously denied the allegations.  

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The pair settled the case earlier this year; under US civil law agreeing to settle a case does not amount to an admission of guilt.

Although Giuffre was not the only woman to submit a statement ahead of Maxwell’s sentencing, four of the other statements are being challenged by Maxwell’s legal team, who argue that four of the accusers’ ages meant that they were not “statutory crime victims” who have the right to speak at the sentencing.

Back in December, Maxwell was found guilty on five of the six counts she faced as part of the trial against her, including the most serious charge, that of sex trafficking a minor.

The verdict followed a month-long trial that featured testimony from four women who described being abused by Epstein between 1994 and 2004. A guilty verdict was reached by the jury after five full days of deliberation. 

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Images: Virginia Roberts Giuffre/Getty

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Lauren Geall

As Stylist’s digital writer, Lauren Geall writes on topics including mental health, wellbeing and women’s issues. She’s also a big fan of houseplants and likes to dabble in film and TV from time-to-time. You can find her on Twitter at @laurenjanegeall.