Federal prosecutors wanted 30 to 55 years, but Ghislaine Maxwell was sentenced to far fewer on Tuesday. The jet-setting socialite who once consorted with royals, presidents, and billionaires was sentenced to 20 years for helping the financier Jeffrey Epstein sexually abuse underage girls. Defense attorneys wanted a five-year term. That prosecutors wouldn't get their way was established prior to the sentence being handed down: US District Judge Alison J. Nathan ruled that the federal sentencing guideline she would rely upon in sentencing the 60-year-old Maxwell was a range between 15 1/2 and 19 1/2 years in prison, reports the AP.
Still, Nathan—who also imposed a $750,000 fine—said "a very significant sentence is necessary" and that she wanted to send an "unmistakable message" that these kinds of crimes would be punished. Maxwell, wearing a blue prison uniform and a white mask to conform with coronavirus rules, looked to one side as the sentence was announced, but otherwise did not react, per the AP.
The hearing was so long that Nathan called for a half-hour lunch break, unusual for such proceedings. When she had a chance to speak, Maxwell apologized to the victims, reports the BBC. She called meeting Epstein "the biggest regret" of her life, saying, "my association with Epstein will permanently stain me." Maxwell called Epstein "a manipulative, cunning, and controlling man who lived a profoundly compartmentalized life," echoing her defense attorneys' assertions that Epstein was the true mastermind. She added that she hoped her "unusual incarceration" would bring "peace and finality" to the victims. (Read more Ghislaine Maxwell stories.)