TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA — Attorneys for convicted sex trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell, accomplice of Jeffrey Epstein, argued on Tuesday that the judge who sentenced her to 20 years in federal prison prevented Maxwell from presenting a “meaningful defense.”
In addition, Maxwell contends that the anonymity the court extended to victims who testified against her turned her trial into “a form of Kabuki theater.”
According to her lawyers, Maxwell complained that she was denied bail four times before her trial and has become bitter. On Tuesday, her attorney said this was one more reason for filing an appeal.
“MAINTAINING HIGH MORAL STANDARDS”
According to the Daily Mail, Maxwell is teaching classes inside the Florida prison where she preaches about women’s empowerment. While etiquette classes are expected by a former socialite who lived a life of luxury, her weekly sessions on “maintaining high moral standards” is a bizarre new twist to the story about the woman who procured underage girls for abuse by Epstein and his powerful targets of blackmail.
Maxwell maintained throughout the trial that she herself was a victim of Epstein. But the Oxford-educated convict is unlikely to add credibility to her case as she speaks in the twice-weekly sessions about emulating powerful female figures, using Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid as an example.
A flyer pinned inside the federal correctional facility in Tallahassee states: “Taught by Mrs. Maxwell, this course teaches the three principles of etiquette – focusing on respect, consideration and honesty.” The course also counts towards the prison’s First Step Act, where inmates can shave up to 15 days off their sentence by attending.
At Maxwell’s trial, four women testified under pseudonyms; a practice judges often grant for victims of heinous crimes who’ve had their lives ruined by their perpetrators. All four victims told the jury about how they were recruited, groomed and abused as teenagers by Maxwell’s ex-boyfriend, the now-conveniently deceased Jeffrey Epstein.
Epstein’s Florida house manager, Juan Alessi, told the court that he repeatedly drove two girls who appeared to be 14 or 15 to Epstein’s Palm Beach estate. One of the girls, now a woman in her 40s, said Maxwell groomed her for abuse by Epstein when she was 14.
“What she did was wrong and she picked vulnerable young girls and trafficked them,” said the victim at the trial, testifying under the pseudonym Jane.
A LIFE OF LUXURY
Maxwell was convicted on December 29, 2021, on five of the six charges – including sex trafficking of minors. While Maxwell has previously argued that her sentence should be overturned, a new panel of three appeals court judges will now hear her plea.
Maxwell had a life of privilege. As the daughter of publishing magnate and alleged spy Robert Maxwell, members of the royal family and world leaders were among her friends. With Epstein, she enjoyed a life of luxury, traveling the globe in private jets and hopscotching between opulent properties, including Epstein’s mansions in Palm Beach and New York – in addition to his private island in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
But it was at those properties that Maxwell helped Epstein abuse hundreds of underage girls and, on occasion, participated in the abuse, according to court testimony. After her sentencing in New York, Maxwell was transferred to a federal prison in Tallahassee.
VICTIM: “I FELT LIKE I WAS IN PRISON”
Just before the sentencing phase, Maxwell’s lawyers argued that she should be sentenced to no more than five years and three months. At the time of Maxwell’s crimes, federal sentencing guidelines were less stringent, her legal team argued.
But the four women who gave their testimony in the trial told the judge they hoped Maxwell would get a long sentence.
“For over two and a half decades, I felt like I was in prison,” Elizabeth Stein told the court. Stein said she first met Maxwell as a student at the Fashion Institute of Technology and was abused by Maxwell and Epstein for many years. “She had her life. It’s time to have mine.”
That testimony contributed to the judge’s decision to sentence Maxwell to 20 years in federal prison.
“What wasn’t expressed was acceptance of responsibility,” the judge said, referring to Maxwell. “A lack of expression of remorse for her own conduct.”
Now serving time in Tallahassee, Maxwell has reportedly become friends with Narcy Novack, a former stripper who became a socialite. Novack received a life sentence in 2012 for hiring a hitman to murder her husband, Ben Novack – heir to the Fontainebleau Hotel – and her mother-in-law, Bernice.