‘She wants to do good in the world’: Ghislaine Maxwell’s lawyers appeal for leniency at sentencing

‘She wants to do good in the world’: Ghislaine Maxwell’s lawyers appeal for leniency at sentencing

Ghislaine Maxwell’s lawyers have pleaded for leniency at her sentencing for sex trafficking later this month, saying she is “not a vapid socialite” and has a “desire to good in the world”.

The attorneys on Wednesday called on New York judge Alison Nathan to reject the US government’s recommendation of a 20-year sentence for the Briton’s role in financier Jeffrey Epstein’s sex abuse of teenage girls.

“Ghislaine Maxwell is not an heiress, villain, or vapid socialite,” the lawyers wrote in advance of a sentencing scheduled for June 28.

“She has worked hard her entire life. She has energy, drive, commitment, a strong work ethic, and desire to do good in the world.”

They said leniency is deserved because she had a “difficult, traumatic childhood with an overbearing, narcissistic, and demanding father” that made her “vulnerable to Epstein, whom she met right after her father’s death.”

Maxwell was found guilty of five out of the six charges in her trial, including sex trafficking a 14-year-old minor, and faces a possible 65-year sentence.

In its final report, the probation department recommended a 240-month prison term, less than the sentencing guidelines would otherwise call for.

Maxwell’s lawyers claimed in a filing to the Manhattan court that the 60-year-old daughter of British press baron Robert Maxwell is being punished in the place of Epstein.

“In the face of strong media and public uproar following Epstein’s death, the government faced an urgency to appease the renewed distress of Epstein’s accusers and to repair the tarnished reputations of the DOJ (Department of Justice) and BOP (Bureau of Prisons) in whose custody Epstein died,” they wrote.

“There would be no trial for Epstein and no public vindication and justice for his accusers. The government now had a huge hole to fill: Epstein’s empty chair.”

They urged the court not to be influenced by “this inexorable drumbeat of public condemnation calling for her to be locked away for good.”

In their plea, Maxwell’s legal team highlighted her “exemplary” behaviour while held as an inmate at Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC).

“While in solitary confinement, she completed six courses. Post-trial she was permitted to work as an orderly which has continued in general population,” they wrote.

“Since placed in general population, she has eagerly provided a wide variety of assistance to the women is her unit, including GED (General Educational Diploma) tutoring.”

They also claimed she was not safe in the federal jail, where an inmate recently reportedly tried to murder her.

One of the female inmates in Maxwell’s housing unit told at least three other inmates that she had been offered money to murder Maxwell and that she planned to strangle her in her sleep.

“Ms Maxwell has to live with this threat every day that she is housed in the MDC and every day that she is incarcerated in the prison where she is designated.”

They then went into greater detail about apparent hardships she suffered as a child growing up in Oxfordshire.

They wrote about the effect felt by the Maxwell family when Ghislaine’s 15-year-old brother Michael was seriously injured in a car accident.

“(The incident) transformed young Ghislaine’s formative years. (She) was hardly given a glance and became anorexic while still a toddler. At age three, she stood in front of her mother and said simply, ‘Mummy, I exist’.”

They said her mother Elizabeth then went on a long tour of India and Australia, “leaving infant Ghislaine and her siblings not already in boarding school at home in the care of a nanny.”

After Robert Maxwell was elected as an MP, they wrote, he had little time for his nine children, only seeing them on Sundays.

“Mr Maxwell employed corporal punishment on his children,” the attorneys claimed.

He “demanded much of his children and informed them that they needed to keep industrious as they would not be receiving any inheritance.”

They alleged that her father’s work at one point made her the target of death threats, with her apparently finding herself the first name on an Irish Republican Army “hit list” for potential kidnap and assassination.

They claim her father’s physical abuse paved the way for her to be manipulated by Epstein, her onetime boyfriend who went on to become one of the worst sexual offenders in US history.

The lawyers also submitted letters written by Ghislaine’s various family and friends attesting to Ghislaine’s character, including sister Anne Halve, a psychotherapist, twin sisters Christine and Isabel, brothers Ian and Kevin, and Catherine Vaughan-Edwards, a friend, former employee, and the mother of Ghislaine’s godson.

The prosecution intends to put on a number of victim impact statements to push Judge Nathan towards a higher sentence, including Prince Andrew accuser Virginia Giuffre, The Telegraph understands.

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Last Update: Wed, 15 Jun 22 23:36:12