Ghislaine Maxwell, in a plea for mercy two weeks before being convicted in her sex-trafficking case, blames her actions on the cruelty of the parents and on her relationship with Jeffrey Epstein, the disgraced financier she was accused of committing murder. help recruit and abuse underage girls.
“She had a difficult, traumatic childhood with an overbearing, narcissistic and demanding father,” her lawyers wrote Wednesday evening to the federal judge in Manhattan, who will hand down a sentence on June 28.
“It made her vulnerable to Epstein, whom she met shortly after her father’s death,” the lawyers said. “It’s the biggest mistake she’s made in her life and one she didn’t make and will never repeat.”
Ms. Maxwell, 60, was found guilty on December 29 after a month-long trial on five of the six charges she faced. The most serious conviction was for trafficking in minors, which carries a maximum prison sentence of 40 years. Two other counts carry maximum sentences of five and ten years.
The judge, Alison J. Nathan, ruled in April that she would not convict Ms. Maxwell on two remaining charges she was convicted of because they overlapped with conduct covered by other counts. There is no minimum penalty.
In their police report filed with federal court, Ms. Maxwell Judge Nathan to impose a sentence less than the 20 years recommended by the court’s probation service. They argued that Ms. Maxwell had been the victim of two men for much of her life, both of whom are now dead.
The story is set in a rarefied world of boarding schools and mansions on two continents.
Ms. Maxwell, the lawyers wrote, became anorexic as a toddler and so ignored that as a 3-year-old she stood before her mother to declare, “Mommy, I exist.”
The lawyers accused Ms Maxwell’s father, British media mogul Robert Maxwell, who died after falling from his boat in 1991, beset by mounting debt, of a gothic series of domestic misdeeds ranging from long absences to cruel quizzes at the dinner table. dress for wrong answers.
Once, after 13-year-old Mrs. Maxwell stuck a poster of a pony on the freshly painted wall of her bedroom, the lawyers, Robert Maxwell, wrote indignantly, took the gavel and struck her hand with it, leaving it badly bruised and painful for weeks.
The lawyers wrote that decades ago, in the 1990s and early 2000s, their client was convicted for her association with Mr. Epstein.
“The witnesses at the trial testified about Ms. Maxwell’s facilitation in Epstein’s abuse,” the attorneys wrote, “but Epstein was always the central figure: Epstein was the mastermind, Epstein was the main abuser, and Epstein orchestrated the crimes for his personal satisfaction.”
Ms. Maxwell’s arrest in New Hampshire in July 2020 followed years of investigation and lawsuits targeting Mr. Epstein. He was arrested in July 2019 and charged with sexually exploiting and abusing dozens of girls and women at his Palm Beach, Florida estate, his Manhattan mansion, and other locations.
Mr Epstein, 66, was found dead in his cell a month later after hanging himself with a sheet, the coroner ruled. He was awaiting his own trial on sex trafficking charges.
In their sentencing memorandum, Ms. Maxwell’s attorneys argued that prosecutors turned their attention to her only after the “strong media and public outcry” following Mr. Epstein’s death while he was in custody by the Department of Justice and the Bureau of Prisons. .
“The government was forced to assuage the renewed distress of Epstein’s accusers and restore the tarnished reputation of the DOJ and BOP,” the attorneys wrote.
“There would be no trial for Epstein and no public justification and justice for his accusers,” they said. “The government now had a huge hole to fill: Epstein’s empty chair.”
During Ms. Maxwell’s trial, prosecutors presented a 10-day case centered on the testimonies of four accusers, now all adults.
Two women said Mr Epstein had sex with them when they were only 14 years old. One woman said that Mrs. Maxwell was sometimes present during the meetings; the other testified that Mrs. Maxwell had molested her directly by touching her breasts.
“Maxwell was a sophisticated predator who knew exactly what she was doing,” Alison Moe, an assistant attorney in the US, told the jury in a closing argument. “She manipulated her victims and she groomed them for sexual abuse.”
The government will submit its sentencing recommendation to Judge Nathan next week.
The lawyers of Mrs. Maxwell also reiterated in their briefing the long-standing arguments that she endured extreme conditions after being refused bail and being held in a Brooklyn detention center. They said she was locked up in a 9-by-7-foot isolation cell for 22 months, under constant surveillance by video cameras.
They said her “extraordinary circumstances of solitary confinement” warranted a “hard-time credit”.
Mrs. Maxwell’s lawyers wrote that after Mrs. Maxwell’s conviction, she was admitted to the general population of the prison, where the Oxford University graduate worked as an authorizing officer, attended various educational courses and “eagerly offered a wide range of assistance to the women in her department. , including GED tutoring.”
But while she was in the general population, the lawyers said, she was also the “target of a credible death threat from a fellow inmate.”
An inmate in Ms. Maxwell’s housing unit told at least three other inmates that she had been offered money to kill Ms. Maxwell and that she intended to strangle Ms. Maxwell in her sleep, the lawyers wrote. The inmate who made the threat was transferred to another unit, “presumably to protect Ms. Maxwell,” the lawyers said.
The incident could not be independently confirmed and Nicholas Biase, a spokesperson for the US law firm, declined to comment on the allegation.
“This incident reflects the cruel reality,” the defense attorneys wrote, “that there are countless inmates who would not hesitate to kill Ms. Maxwell — be it for money, fame or simple street cred.”