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Ghislaine Maxwell appeals against sex trafficking conviction and sentence

Ghislaine Maxwell with Jeffrey Epstein (US Dept of Justice)
Ghislaine Maxwell with Jeffrey Epstein (US Dept of Justice)

British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell has officially appealed against her conviction and sentence in the United States for sex trafficking.

The 60-year-old was found guilty by a jury of luring young girls to massage rooms for disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein to molest between 1994 and 2004.

She was sentenced to 20 years in prison at the federal court in the Southern District of New York last month.

Despite apologising to her victims during her sentencing hearing, court documents show Maxwell has now paid 505 US dollars (£420) to appeal against both her conviction and sentence.

Jurors heard prosecutors describe her as “dangerous” during her three-week trial last year, and were told details of how she helped entice vulnerable teenagers to Epstein’s various properties for him to sexually abuse.

The court docket shows her appeal has now been sent to the US Court of Appeals.

Maxwell’s defence attorneys had indicated they would be appealing against the conviction after it emerged one of the jurors in her trial had failed to disclose he had been sexually abused.

Ghislaine Maxwell court case
Ghishlaine Maxwell’s lawyer Bobbi Sternheim addresses the press outside the Federal Courthouse in lower Manhattan in New York (Gabriele Holtermann/PA)

Her counsel, led by Bobbi Sternheim, previously said juror Scotty David’s actions “demonstrated a lack of reliability and an appetite for publicity” when the socialite applied for a retrial.

In a written ruling, Judge Alison Nathan said the jury’s guilty verdicts were “readily supported” by witness testimony and documentary evidence as Maxwell’s bid to overturn the conviction was dismissed.

In submissions before her sentencing hearing, the defendant’s counsel said she should face no more than four to five years in prison, saying it would be “a travesty of justice for her to face a sentence that would have been appropriate for Epstein”.

But the judge gave Maxwell a sentence much greater, saying she “repeatedly, and over the course of many years participated in a horrific scheme to traffic young girls, some the age of 14”.

Judge Nathan said it was important that although “Epstein was central to this scheme” she was not being sentenced “as a proxy” for him.

She said: “The defendant’s conduct… was heinous and predatory.

“Ms Maxwell worked with Epstein to select young victims who were vulnerable and played a pivotal role in facilitating sexual abuse.”

Ghislaine Maxwell court case
Maxwell was jailed for 20 years last month (US Department of Justice/PA)

Before passing sentence, Judge Nathan heard from four of Maxwell’s victims, Annie Farmer, Sarah Ransome, Elizabeth Stein and the accuser known by the pseudonym “Kate”, who read victim impact statements to the court, in which she was described as a “manipulative, cruel and merciless person”.

Maxwell has been incarcerated since July 2020, despite numerous attempts from her defence counsel to have her released on bail.

Epstein was found dead in his cell at a federal jail in Manhattan in August 2019 while he awaited trial on sex trafficking charges.

The death was ruled a suicide.