Ghislaine Maxwell appeals sex trafficking conviction and sentence

Maxwell, who a judge said played ‘instrumental’ role in abuse of girls by Jeffrey Epstein, got 20-year sentence in June.

Courtroom sketch of Ghislaine Maxwell.
A United States jury in December convicted Maxwell on five charges, including sex trafficking of minors, and she was sentenced to 20 years in prison late last month [File: Jane Rosenberg/Reuters]

Ghislaine Maxwell has appealed her sex trafficking conviction and 20-year prison sentence for facilitating the abuse of underage girls by disgraced US financier Jeffrey Epstein.

The appeal was filed on Thursday, nine days after her sentencing by US Circuit Judge Alison Nathan in Manhattan.

After a monthlong trial, a US jury in December convicted Maxwell on five charges, including sex trafficking of minors, finding that she had recruited and groomed four girls for abuse by Epstein, then her boyfriend, between 1994 and 2004.

Maxwell’s lawyers had argued that she was unfairly scapegoated for Epstein’s crimes, but Nathan said Maxwell played an “instrumental” role in the abuse and had caused “incalculable” damage to the victims.

At her sentencing in June, Maxwell called meeting Epstein “the greatest regret of my life”.

But prosecutors had argued that Maxwell made her own choices and said that she had expressed little remorse for her participation in what Nathan called a “horrific scheme to entice, transport and traffic underage girls, some as young as 14, for sexual abuse by and with Jeffrey Epstein”.

Maxwell, the daughter of the British media powerhouse Robert Maxwell, could be imprisoned into her late 70s.

She has been jailed for two years at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, New York.

Maxwell’s appeal was anticipated, and her lawyers have said that her conviction was tainted because the evidence did not prove her guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, prosecuting attorneys took too long to indict her, and one of the jurors failed to mention that he had been sexually abused as a child.

Nathan rejected those arguments in April, and it is not clear what issues with the verdict Maxwell and her legal team plan to bring forward.

Maxwell’s lawyers also have argued that jail officials did not allow Maxwell to adequately prepare for the trial and that the guidelines Nathan used to decide her sentence should have been different.

The appeals process will most likely last several months.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies