As if the sex trafficking case against Ghislaine Maxwell, Jeffrey Epstein’s confidant and procurer of young girls, couldn’t get more depraved, Maxwell is pleading for a lighter sentence by telling the judge of the ways she was abused herself as a child.
Although Maxwell grew up in a wealthy home of great privilege, she said that it was parental abuse as a child that drove her into the arms of Epstein and his life of deviant sexual depravities.
According to the NY Times, in a memo sent to the judge who will ultimately decide Maxwell’s sentence, her attorneys wrote, “She had a difficult, traumatic childhood with an overbearing, narcissistic, and demanding father.”
The memo went on, “It made her vulnerable to Epstein, whom she met right after her father’s death. It is the biggest mistake she made in her life and one that she has not and never will repeat.”
The Manhattan federal judge who received the memo, Alison J. Nathan, is set to impose sentence on Maxwell on June 28.
Ms. Maxwell, 60, was found guilty on Dec. 29 after a month-long trial on five of the six counts she faced. The most serious conviction was for sex trafficking of minors, which carries a maximum prison sentence of 40 years. Two other counts carry maximum sentences of five and ten years.
In their brief filed in Federal District Court, Ms. Maxwell’s lawyers asked Judge Nathan to impose a sentence below the 20 years recommended by the court’s probation department. They argued that Ms. Maxwell had spent much of her life being victimized by two men, both of whom are now dead.
According to their appeal to Nathan for leniency, the lawyers wove a tale of abuse that played out on two continents.
Ms. Maxwell, the lawyers wrote, became anorexic as a toddler and was so ignored she stood in front of her mother as a 3-year-old to declare, “Mummy, I exist.”
The lawyers accused Ms. Maxwell’s father, the British media magnate Robert Maxwell, who died after falling off his boat in 1991, assailed by mounting debt, of a gothic array of domestic misdeeds, ranging from long absences to cruel quizzes at the dinner table with dressings down for incorrect answers.
Once, after the 13-year-old Ms. Maxwell tacked a poster of a pony on the newly painted wall of her bedroom, the lawyers wrote, Robert Maxwell, outraged, took the hammer and banged it on her hand, leaving it severely bruised and painful for weeks.
The lawyers wrote that their client now faced sentencing because of her association with Mr. Epstein decades ago, in the 1990s and early 2000s.
“The witnesses at trial testified about Ms. Maxwell’s facilitation of Epstein’s abuse,” the lawyers wrote, “but Epstein was always the central figure: Epstein was the mastermind, Epstein was the principal abuser, and Epstein orchestrated the crimes for his personal gratification.”
The government is scheduled to file its sentencing recommendation with Judge Nathan next week.
Ms. Maxwell’s lawyers, in their petition for a lighter sentence, also reiterated long-raised arguments that she had endured extreme conditions after she was denied bail and held in a detention center in Brooklyn. For 22 months, they said, she was locked in an isolation cell, measuring 9-by-7 feet, and monitored constantly by video cameras.
They said her “extraordinary conditions of solitary confinement” justified a “hard-time credit.”
They also said that she had made a credible accounting to them of an inmate that had been paid to “kill her.”
A prisoner in Ms. Maxwell’s housing unit told at least three other inmates that she had been offered money to murder Ms. Maxwell and that she planned to strangle Ms. Maxwell in her sleep, the lawyers wrote. The inmate who made the threat was moved to a different unit, “presumably to protect Ms. Maxwell,” the lawyers said.