Ghislaine Maxwell is likely to receive 20 years in prison for sexual abuse, says legal analyst

British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell faces a likely “death by imprisonment” as a result of her conviction, a legal analyst has said.

Her legal team said she would appeal her verdict, announced Wednesday, to set up teenage girls to have sexual encounters with financier Jeffrey Epstein.

Maxwell, 60, was charged with recruiting and grooming four teens between 1994 and 2004 for Epstein, her ex-boyfriend, who in 2019 killed himself in a prison cell in Manhattan while awaiting trial on his own charges of sex abuse.

She was convicted of five out of six counts, including one of sex trafficking, and risks up to 65 years in prison.

Legal analyst Mitchell Epner said she would likely get between 20 and 25 years old.

“Given that Maxwell is currently 60 years old, it is essentially death by imprisonment,” he said.

Maxwell’s lawsuit was widely perceived as the bill Epstein never had and one of the most high-profile cases in the wake of the #MeToo movement, which encouraged women to speak out about sexual abuse by famous and powerful people.

“This is the most important conviction for human trafficking in recent history,” said Mr Epner, a former federal prosecutor.

Maxwell will return to Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) – which Mr Epner described as a “truly abyssal prison” – where she has been held in solitary confinement since July 2020.

A court illustration shows Ghislaine Maxwell handcuffed and wearing a face mask while sitting on a chair by a man in a suit.
Maxwell was convicted of five counts and faces up to 65 years in prison.(Reuters: Jane Rosenberg)

Maxwell has expressed concern about her treatment in prison, claiming that guards have disturbed her night’s sleep and that the stench of raw sewage has permeated her cell.

Conditions at the MDC are far from the opulence that Maxwell, a daughter of the late British press baron Robert Maxwell, had been accustomed to for most of his life.

Once convicted, she is likely to end up in a jailbreaker, according to Mr Epner.

‘I was not sure this day would ever come’

During the month-long trial, jurors heard emotional and explicit testimonies from four women who portrayed Maxwell as central to their abuse of Epstein.

Three of the four said Maxwell himself touched their bare breasts or attended the meetings, which often began as a massage.

In an interview with the American Broadcasting Corporation, one of Maxwell’s prosecutors, Annie Farmer, said the jury “sent a strong message that the perpetrators of sexual abuse and exploitation will be held accountable, no matter how much power and privileges they have”.

A courtroom sketch showing a woman speaking in court
A sketch shows Annie Farmer testifying at the witness stand during Maxwell’s trial on sex abuse.(AP: Elizabeth Williams)

“I was not sure this day would ever come,” Ms Farmer said.

“I just feel so grateful that the jury believed in us.”

Ms Farmer said she hoped the investigation into “other people involved and other perpetrators” would continue.

Attorney Gloria Allred, who represents 20 victims of Jeffrey Epstein, said Maxwell’s conviction was a “legal calculation” that is “long overdue” and would lead to more prosecutions of sexual crimes.

Ms. Allred represents the victims in claims with Epstein Victims’ Compensation Program, a fund set up by Epstein’s estate that pays money to survivors.

More fees possible

During the month-long trial, Maxwell’s lawyers tried to undermine the women’s credibility, claiming they were motivated by money to implicate Maxwell, as all four had received millions in rewards from the Compensation Fund for Epstein’s victims.

But the women disputed these characteristics, saying they decided to testify out of a desire for justice, not money.

And according to legal analyst Mr Epner, the women were “very plausible”.

“They had a huge problem with Ghislaine Maxwell giving a really awful civilian deposition that put them in the position that she just wanted to deny that any of this ever happened.”

Ghislaine Maxwell wraps her arms around Jeffrey Epstein's neck and kisses his cheek
Jeffrey Epstein was found dead in a prison cell in New York in 2019. (Delivered to: US Attorney’s Office SDNY)

Epstein’s arrest and suicide drew attention to Maxwell’s role in his abuse and to the financier’s relationship with prominent figures such as former US Presidents Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, Britain’s Prince Andrew and billionaire investor Leon Black.

“Given the success of this lawsuit, the federal prosecutors who handled this case will almost certainly have room to prosecute if they believe someone is justified against others,” Mr Epner said.

ABC / wires

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