BROOKLYN, NEW YORK. (CW44 News At 10 | CNN) — Federal prosecutors asked a judge in a court filing Wednesday to sentence Ghislaine Maxwell to 30 to 55 years in prison for child sex trafficking and other charges related to a sprawling conspiracy to abusing girls with Jeffrey Epstein. .
“Maxwell was an adult who made her own decisions. She made the decision to sexually exploit numerous underage girls. She made the choice to conspire with Epstein for years, working as partners in crime and causing devastating harm to vulnerable victims,” prosecutors wrote in the sentencing memorandum. “She should be held accountable for her disturbing role in a sprawling child exploitation scheme.”
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Last week, Maxwell’s lawyers asked a judge to sentence her to between 4.25 and 5.25 years in prison, saying her difficult childhood made her vulnerable to Epstein and she should not face a harsh sentence for her actions. .
“But this court cannot sentence Ms. Maxwell as if she were a proxy for Epstein simply because Epstein is no longer here,” her attorneys wrote in their sentencing recommendation. “Millisecond. Maxwell cannot and she should not bear all the punishment for which she should have held Epstein responsible.”
Epstein, who pleaded guilty in 2008 to state prostitution charges, was indicted on federal sex trafficking charges in July 2019 but committed suicide in prison a month later. Maxwell, his confidant and ex-girlfriend, was arrested a year later and has been in prison ever since.
In the sentencing memorandum, the prosecution he wrote that the defense argument was “absurd and offensive.”
“The lenient sentence sought by the defendant would send the message that there is one system of law for the rich and powerful, and another for everyone else,” prosecutors wrote.
The presentation comes a week before his scheduled sentence on June 28. Maxwell, 60, was convicted of five federal charges in December: sex trafficking of a minor, transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity and three related conspiracy charges.
However, she will only be sentenced on three charges after the judge presiding over her case agreed that two of the conspiracy charges she faced were repetitive.
The probation department recommended a sentence of 20 years, below sentencing guidelines.
At his trial late last year, prosecutors argued that Maxwell and Epstein conspired to set up a scheme to lure girls to have sex with Epstein between 1994 and 2004 in New York, Florida, New Mexico and the US Virgin Islands. Four women testified during the trial that they were abused by Epstein and that Maxwell facilitated and sometimes participated in the abuse as well.
Meanwhile, her defense said she was a “scapegoat” for Epstein’s actions and attacked the memories and motivations of the women who said they were sexually abused.
What the prosecution’s sentencing memorandum argues
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Prosecutors described Maxwell’s conduct as “shockingly predatory,” calling her a “calculating, sophisticated and dangerous criminal who preyed on vulnerable girls and groomed them for sexual abuse.”
“Maxwell’s victims trusted her: she was a seemingly respectable woman who took an interest in them and promised to help them. She was key to the entire scheme operation, and Epstein could not have committed these crimes without her,” prosecutors wrote.
US prosecutors also said Maxwell “enjoyed a remarkable life of privilege, having lived in luxury and moving in social circles among the famous and powerful,” countering his lawyer’s claims that he had a difficult upbringing.
In fact, it was his wealth and status that could “provide a facade of respectability to Epstein that lulled the victims and their families into a false sense of security,” prosecutors argued.
“Although many defendants appear in sentencing courts with compelling mitigating factors due to a difficult upbringing, Maxwell is not among them,” prosecutors wrote. “While the defendant may have had a marginally less positive experience than other exceptionally wealthy children, it is hard to see how harsh conversation at the family table is an excuse to participate in a child exploitation scheme.”
Prosecutors said Maxwell has shown no acceptance of responsibility for the harm he has caused his victims. Rather, she has attempted to portray herself as a victim, the memo says.
In the defense filing, Maxwell’s attorneys said her time behind bars has been a “disproportionate pre-sentence punishment” that will not end now that she is housed with the general population. Her attorneys claimed that she was recently threatened by an inmate in her unit who allegedly told her that an additional 20 years in prison would be “worth the money” she would get for killing Maxwell.
Her lawyers also argued that she is subject to multiple daily searches in which she alleges “having been touched in a sexually inappropriate manner by prison officers” multiple times.
However, prosecutors said his claims that he has been unfairly treated are inaccurate. Maxwell has “enjoyed remarkable privileges as a high-profile inmate that far outweigh the benefits afforded to the average inmate,” including access to a private shower, television, desktop, laptop, and her own space to spend time outside of her cell. her. she says the note.
Prosecutors are also asking the court to impose a maximum allowable fine of $750,000.
“As part of a disturbing deal with Jeffrey Epstein, Maxwell identified, groomed, and abused multiple victims, while enjoying a life of extraordinary luxury and privilege,” the prosecution wrote. “In his wake, Maxwell left his victims permanently scarred with emotional and psychological wounds. That damage can never be undone, but it can be explained by crafting a just sentence for Maxwell’s crimes.”
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