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Ghislaine Maxwell’s sobbing victims confront her at sentencing

Ghislaine Maxwell’s sobbing victims confront her at sentencing
‘Today I stand for the first time with my sisters to say enough is enough’

“Her lack of remorse is the final insult,” a victim, identified only as Kate, told the Manhattan federal court where disgraced socialite Ghislaine Maxwell faced sentencing on Tuesday for her hand in aiding child sex predator Jeffrey Epstein.

“No person should be shielded from the consequences of their actions,” she said. “Today I stand for the first time with my sisters to say enough is enough.

“I take no pleasure in being part of a world in which this is necessary. Stop Ghislaine. I could not have done this alone.”

Kate joined fellow victims Annie Farmer, Sarah Ransome, Elizabeth Stein and a counsel to Virginia Giuffre in confronting the British socialite for recruiting and grooming girls to have sexual encounters with Epstein, then Maxwell’s boyfriend, between 1994 and 2004 – for which she now faces 20 years in prison.

The first victim to address the court was Ms Farmer, who described her years-long efforts to “erase” Maxwell and Epstein’s crimes from her mind.

After US Circuit Judge Alison Nathan interjected to ask Ms Farmer to slow down, she said: “The ripple effects of trauma are undeniable.”

She described learning that her sister had also been a victim of Epstein and Maxwell, saying: “As my family watched her become more isolated and physically ill, there was nothing we could do.”

Addressing the judge, Ms Farmer said: “Consider the ongoing suffering of her victims. Weigh the systematic effects of her acts.

“Her lack of remorse created the need for many of us to begin a long struggle for justice.”

After Kate’s remarks, counsel for Ms Giuffre read a portion of her victim impact statement as she is not physically present at the court.

“I want to be clear: without question, Jeffrey Epstein was a terrible paedophile. But I only met him because of you,” she wrote.

“You used your femininity to victimize us. You could have put an end to the rapes.

“I have grown into a woman who on her best days feels she is making a difference. If you get out of prison I will watch to make sure you don’t do it again.”

And, taking her turn to address the court, Ms Ransome broke down in tears as she described how Epstein and Maxwell lured her in with the promise of helping her get in to the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT).

“I experience flashbacks. I am hyper vigilant and do not trust people easily. I will sometimes start crying for reasons I cannot always comprehend. I’ve been diagnosed with anxiety and PTSD and tendency to self-harm,” she said.

Ms Ransome described attempting to take her own life twice, saying: “Only by the grace of God do I continue to live.”

In her own statement, victim Elizabeth Stein told the court how she met Maxwell when she was a 19-year-old intern at a store.

She said Maxwell introduced her to Epstein and billionaire Les Wexner, who she alleged sexually assaulted her.

From there, she said she only became more ensnared in Epstein and Maxwell’s world as they “trafficked” her to their friends in Florida.

“I was raped in New York and Florida for a three-year period. I cannot speak about it. I do not have the vocabulary,” she said.

Following the series of emotional and oftentimes explicit statements from the pair’s victims, Maxwell – dressed in a blue prison shirt over a white long-sleeved top – offered an apology to the women, and said she hoped her sentencing will offer them “peace and finality”.

She told the court: “I empathised deeply with all the victims in this case. I realize I have been convicted of assisting Jeffrey Epstein to commit these crimes. My associate with Epstein will permanently stain me. It is the biggest regret of my life than I ever met him.

“I believe Jeffrey Epstein fooled all of those in his orbit. His victims considered him a mentor, friend, lover. Jeffrey Epstein should have stood before you. In 2005. In 2009. And again in 2019. But today it is for me to be sentenced.

“I am sorry for the pain you have experience. I hope my conviction and harsh incarceration brings you peace and finality. I hope this date bring a terrible chapter to the end.”

Jurors heard that the socialite summoned a 14-year-old girl to an orgy, groped another victim, and laid a schoolgirl outfit out for a third accuser before a sexualised massage with Epstein, because she “thought it would be fun”.

She was convicted of five offences in December of last year, including sex trafficking minors, conspiracy to entice a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, and conspiracy to transport a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity.

In sentencing Maxwell to 20 years in prison, Judge Alison Nathan told the court she “repeatedly, and over the course of many years participated in a horrific scheme to traffic young girls, some the age of 14”.

Judge Nathan said it was important that although “Epstein was central to this scheme”, she was not being sentenced “as a proxy” for him.

She said: “The defendant’s conduct… was heinous and predatory.

“Ms Maxwell worked with Epstein to select young victims who were vulnerable and played a pivotal role in facilitating sexual abuse.”

Continuing her sentencing remarks, Judge Nathan told the court: “The damage done to these girls was incalculable.”

The judge said Maxwell’s victims were forced to live through the “painful, horrific and lasting impact of that trauma”.

She continued: “Those who engage in and facilitate sexual abuse will be held accountable by the law.

“Whether you are rich or powerful, nobody is above the law.”