Ghislaine Maxwell‘s lawyers are arguing that the former Jeffery Epstein associate should be sentenced to “well below” the recommended 20 years imprisonment for federal sex-trafficking crimes because of an alleged death threat from another inmate.
On Dec. 29, Maxwell was convicted of charges including sex trafficking and conspiracy to recruit women and girls, some who were just 14 years old, into Epstein’s orbit for him to sexually abuse. She maintains her innocence.
Maxwell’s lawyers provided details of the alleged death threat in a pre-sentencing report Wednesday. They also made the case that Maxwell suffered an abusive upbringing, which made her vulnerable to Epstein’s influence, in arguing for leniency in her sentencing.
Her lawyers wrote: “One of the female inmates in Ms. Maxwell’s housing unit told at least three other inmates that she had been offered money to murder Ms. Maxwell and that she planned to strangle her in her sleep.”
They added that the inmate wasn’t worried about legal repercussions because “an additional 20 years’ incarceration would be worth the money she’d receive for murdering Ms. Maxwell.”
“This incident reflects the brutal reality that there are numerous prison inmates who would not hesitate to kill Ms. Maxwell — whether for money, fame, or simple ‘street cred,'” Maxwell’s lawyers alleged.
The inmate who made the threat was later moved to a different housing unit in the prison, “presumably to protect Ms. Maxwell,” the lawyers said.
There has been no confirmation, independent of Maxwell’s lawyers, of this incident. The New York Times reached out to Nicholas Biase, a spokesperson for the U.S. attorney’s office, and he declined to comment on the allegations.
Maxwell’s lawyers also claimed that the socialite’s father, the late publishing tycoon Robert Maxwell, was abusive to her and her siblings.
“Ghislaine vividly recalls a time when, at age 13, she tacked a poster of a pony on the newly painted wall of her bedroom. Rather than mar the paint with tape, she carefully hammered a thin tack to mount the poster,” the lawyers wrote.
“This outraged her father, who took the hammer and banged on Ghislaine’s dominant hand, leaving it severely bruised and painful for weeks to come.”
The effect of having an “overbearing, narcissistic and demanding father,” Maxwell’s lawyers wrote, meant that she was “vulnerable to Epstein, whom she met right after her father’s death,” they argued.
According to Maxwell’s lawyers, the disgraced socialite is being pinned for crimes for which Epstein should have been held responsible, writing that “this Court cannot sentence Ms. Maxwell as if she were a proxy for Epstein simply because Epstein is no longer here.”
Epstein is a convicted sex offender who was awaiting trial for operating a child sex trafficking ring for the rich and powerful when he died of an apparent suicide in a New York detention centre while awaiting trial.
Epstein’s apparent suicide fueled unsubstantiated conspiracy theories that the financier had been killed in prison to protect the identities of his powerful and connected clients.
Maxwell’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for June 28 and she could face up to 55 years behind bars.
The U.S. probation department makes sentencing recommendations and has suggested that Maxwell serve 240 months, or 20 years, in prison. Maxwell’s sentence will be determined by a judge.
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