In an effort to save the skin of convicted sex trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell, defense attorneys claim a narcissistic father made Maxwell more vulnerable to manipulation by Jeffrey Epstein. Beyond Maxwell’s difficult upbringing, they cite death threats against her by fellow inmates and the harsh conditions she faces in prison as reasons why New York Circuit Judge Alison Nathan should stand trial. clemency when determining his prison sentence.
On December 29, after a month-long trial that included testimony from four of Epstein’s abuse victims, Maxwell was found guilty of sex trafficking of minors, among other charges. The sex trafficking charge, the most serious she has faced, carries a maximum prison sentence of 40 years. Earlier this month, the court’s probation service recommended just 20 years in prison, citing Maxwell’s age – 61 – her history of philanthropy and charity work, and the fact that she was not solely responsible for the harm caused to the victims. New? The letter, signed by Maxwell’s attorneys Bobbi Sternheim, Christian Everdell and Jeffrey Pagluica, is a final plea for mercy before his sentencing, scheduled for June 28.
Lisa Bloom, a lawyer who has represented many of Epstein’s accusers in the past, thinks the judge won’t be swayed by the standard plea. “They do their job,” she said. “I think it’s a good try. But she will get a long sentence and she will probably spend the rest of her life in prison.
Missing from the letter is any mention of the girls and young women a jury ruled Maxwell helped procure and groom for the abuse of disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein, whose 2019 death was ruled a suicide in 2019 in jail awaiting trial. “It’s sad for me that there’s no remorse, there’s no concern for the victims,” Bloom says. “I guess they’re taking the position that she’s innocent and they want to preserve their rights on appeal, but I also think she’s not. have no remorse, and she has no compassion for the victims. Everything revolves around her.
Maxwell’s team say she endured “unusually harsh” prison conditions while being held without bail for more than a year before her trial. While in solitary confinement in a nine-by-seven-foot cell, she was deprived of sleep by guards who watched her every 15 minutes by shining a flashlight on her eyes. She was fed rancid foods that often did not meet her vegetarian – or “fleshless” diet; she did not always have access to soap, a toothbrush or toothpaste; she complained of painful and humiliating body searches; and while she was nominally allowed to exercise, she was given ill-fitting shoes that prevented her from running.
After her release from solitary confinement, Maxwell’s lawyers say she was threatened with death, when a fellow inmate in her building told three other prisoners that she had been offered money to kill Maxwell and that he intended to strangle her while she slept. Despite the death threat, Bloom points out that the inhuman suffering behind bars is not unique to Maxwell. “She had the same terrible experience in prison as everyone else,” Bloom says. “Some of the conditions were probably terrible and unacceptable. I am a supporter of prison reform. We should improve conditions in prisons. We should treat people like human beings. But I don’t think it would have any real effect on his sentencing.
If the prison conditions aren’t enough to sway the judge, Maxwell’s team also say she suffered from a privileged but unhappy upbringing. They claim she didn’t get much attention after her older brother fell into a coma shortly after she was born, dying seven years later. She was anorexic when she was three, lawyers say, and the cruel and demanding behavior of her father Robert Maxwell led to her being manipulated by Epstein. They accuse the late British media mogul of corporal punishment: After a 13-year-old Maxwell stuck a poster of a pony on the wall of her freshly painted bedroom, the letter says he took the hammer she had used to hang it and that it “bumped on it”. her hand, leaving it “severely bruised and sore for weeks to come.” The lawyers also speak of a family reconciliation around Maxwell’s 20th birthday that soured, leading to a “miserable Christmas” and the announcement of Maxwell’s parents’ divorce.
In opening statements for the trial last November, Maxwell’s lawyer Sternheim said his client was being treated as a scapegoat and a replacement for the late Epstein. “Ever since Eve was accused of tempting Adam with the apple, women have been blamed for the misbehavior of men,” she told the jury. She and Maxwell’s other attorney also hit the same note in their appeal for clemency. “The Court cannot heal the wounds caused by Epstein by placing on Ms Maxwell’s shoulders the pain of each of his victims,” they wrote. Bloom says the value of that argument has disappeared since the guilty verdicts were handed down. “That argument made its way through the courts and was rejected outright,” she says. “She was there for the crimes that she herself committed and have now been convicted of. As lawyers we sometimes come up with these stories and then we keep repeating them and repeating them. But you have to appreciate when you lost an argument and find something else.