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US urges appeals court to uphold Ghislaine Maxwell’s sex trafficking conviction

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The US government has urged an appeals court to uphold Ghislaine Maxwell’s conviction and 20-year prison sentence for helping the disgraced late financier Jeffrey Epstein sexually abuse teenage girls.

In a Thursday night filing with the second US circuit court of appeals in Manhattan, federal prosecutors said none of Maxwell’s legal arguments about the fairness of her trial held merit.

“The government’s evidence at trial established that over the course of a decade, Maxwell facilitated and participated in the sexual abuse of multiple young girls,” prosecutors said.

Arthur Aidala, a lawyer for Maxwell, was not immediately available for comment outside business hours.

Maxwell, 61, is behind bars in Tallahassee, Florida, after a Manhattan jury convicted her in December 2021 on five charges for recruiting and grooming four girls for Epstein to abuse between 1994 and 2004.

Epstein killed himself at age 66 in August 2019 in a Manhattan jail cell, where he was awaiting trial for sex trafficking. Hundreds of women have said he abused them.

In her appeal, Maxwell, the daughter of late British media mogul Robert Maxwell, accused prosecutors of making her a scapegoat because Epstein was dead and “public outrage” demanded that someone else absorb the blame.

Her lawyers also offered several arguments for dismissing the case or granting a new trial. These included that Maxwell was immune from prosecution, prosecutors waited too long to charge her, and Epstein’s 2007 non-prosecution agreement arising from alleged abuse at his Palm Beach, Florida mansion also immunized her.

The lawyers also said one juror should have disclosed before trial that he had been sexually abused as a child.

Maxwell’s accusers have said she and Epstein at first made them feel welcome in their orbit, before Epstein began demanding sexualized massages.

Others who were friendly with Epstein have seen their reputations tarred or ruined, among them Britain’s Prince Andrew and former JPMorgan Chase executive and Barclays chief executive Jes Staley.

JPMorgan and Deutsche Bank, which both had Epstein as a client, are paying a combined $365m to Epstein’s accusers over the banks’ work for him. The US Virgin Islands, where Epstein had a home, is also suing JPMorgan.

Maxwell earliest eligible release would be July 2037.

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