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Ghislaine Maxwell enters court with shackles around ankles ahead of sentence

(PA)
(PA)

British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell has been told she “regularly engaged in a pattern of prohibited sexual activity” as she awaits a potential 65-year prison sentence.

The 60-year-old was convicted in December last year of luring young girls to massage rooms to be molested by Jeffrey Epstein between 1994 and 2004.

Ahead of her sentencing hearing on Tuesday, Maxwell arrived with shackles around her ankles which rattled as she made her way to her seat in the courtroom in the Southern District of New York.

Wearing a prison-issued uniform, she spoke only to confirm she had read the pre-sentence report and discussed it with her legal team, saying: “I did have the opportunity to read it.”

Maxwell was labelled “dangerous” by the prosecution during her three-week trial last year, and helped entice vulnerable teenagers to the disgraced financier’s various properties for him to sexually abuse.

Victims of Maxwell are set to tell the court of her “relentless and insatiable drive to meet the sexual needs of Epstein” and their “retraumatisation” over having to give evidence during the trial.

Ghislaine Maxwell court case
Ghislaine Maxwell was convicted of sex trafficking in December last year (US Department of Justice/PA)

Victims Sarah Ransome, Elizabeth Stein, Annie Farmer and the accuser known as “Kate” were all present in the courtroom, as well as controversial juror Scotty David – who prompted calls from Maxwell’s counsel for a retrial after he failed to disclose he was a victim of sexual abuse.

Maxwell was convicted in December last year of sex trafficking minors, conspiracy to entice a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, and conspiracy to transport a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity.

She was also found guilty of transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity and conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of minors.

Maxwell’s defence attorneys sought a delay to sentencing proceedings through a motion filed on Saturday, in which they said she had been placed on “suicide watch” and was “not permitted to possess and review legal documents”.

Epstein
Maxwell lured vulnerable teenagers to massage rooms at a variety of Epstein’s properties (PA Graphics)

Despite not being part of the indictment, the victim impact statement of the Duke of York’s accuser, Virginia Giuffre, is due to be read to the court where she says Maxwell “opened the door to hell”.

Andrew has always strenuously denied Ms Giuffre’s allegations.

During the morning of Tuesday’s hearing, Judge Alison Nathan said Ms Giuffre qualified as a minor victim in the case, despite not being named on the trial indictment.

Ms Giuffre’s attorney read a letter from his client to the judge.

He said: “I am in receipt of the Court’s Order. As explained in our submission, due to a medical issue, Ms Giuffre is not able to be present physically in the courtroom, but has asked that I be able to read her statement at the hearing.

“I seek clarification of Your Honour’s Order that I will be allowed to read a portion of Ms Guiffre’s statement at the hearing.”

Other accusers, Annie Farmer and Kate, have been told their statements can be orally read to the court, and three others were told they could read their statements in a shortened format.

In their sentencing submissions, prosecutors urged Judge Nathan to impose a sentence of between 30 and 55 years for Maxwell’s crimes.

The statutory maximum term Maxwell can serve in total is 65 years.

After legal argument about aggravating factors in the case, the judge ruled the case fell in the guidelines of 188-235 months imprisonment.

Before the hearing broke for lunch, Judge Alison Nathan said she still intended to impose a fine on the defendant after the court heard that Jeffrey Epstein left her a £10 million bequest.

Throughout the trial, the court heard how she imposed a “culture of silence… by design” at Epstein’s properties, where staff were told to “see nothing, hear nothing and say nothing”.

Judge Nathan said she agreed Maxwell had told staff at Epstein’s Palm Beach residence in Florida to be “blind, deaf and dumb.”

The judge also said Maxwell’s prison sentence would be enhanced due to her “supervisory role in extensive criminal activity”.

Throughout the morning session of her sentencing hearing, the defendant frequently played with her hair and adjusted her mask.

Maxwell took sips from her Fiji water, which was delivered to her by her sister Isabel before the hearing began.

One of Maxwell’s accusers, who testified under the pseudonym “Jane”, told jurors that as well as luring her to an orgy at the age of 14, the defendant and Epstein would fondle each other and giggle in front of her.

She also told jurors how Epstein would use sex toys on her “even though it hurt”, and she did not tell anyone about the abuse because she was “terrified” and “felt gross and ashamed”.

Maxwell’s trial also heard how she told another accuser, who testified under the pseudonym “Carolyn”, that she had a “great body for Epstein and his friends”.

Carolyn said the defendant had touched her breasts in Epstein’s massage room before telling her she had a “great body type”.

Jurors also heard how Carolyn had been introduced to the predatory pair through Ms Giuffre, and that she had been in the same room while Epstein and Ms Giuffre had sex.

The third accuser, who testified under the pseudonym “Kate”, said she had a schoolgirl outfit laid out for her by Maxwell before a sexualised massage with Epstein.

Virginia Giuffre lawsuit
Virginia Giuffre’s victim impact statement is due to be read to the court, where she says Maxwell ‘opened the door to hell’ (Crime+Investigation/PA)

Kate said the defendant then told her to take Epstein his tea in the outfit, and when asked by the accuser why the outfit was on her bed, Maxwell said she “thought it would be fun”.

The jury was told Maxwell asked Kate if she knew of anyone who could come to her house and give Epstein oral sex because it was “a lot for her to do”.

The only accuser to testify under her full name, Annie Farmer, told jurors she was left “frozen” when the socialite asked her to undress for a massage and rubbed her breasts.

Ms Farmer said the defendant encouraged her to have a massage after teaching her how to rub Epstein’s feet at the age of 16.

Maxwell’s defence counsel had attempted to distance her from Epstein, but a series of photographs showed the close relationship the pair had.

Ghislaine Maxwell court case
Girls were flown to Epstein’s properties on the disgraced financier’s private planes (US Department of Justice/PA)

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.

Maxwell, who has been held in a US jail since her arrest in July 2020, will be sentenced on Tuesday morning.