New York (AFP) - Ghislaine Maxwell will learn her fate Tuesday when a US judge sentences the former socialite for helping the late disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein sexually abuse girls.
Maxwell, 60, faces receiving an effective life term in prison when judge Alison Nathan hands down her sentence in Manhattan's federal court.
The Oxford-educated daughter of the late British press baron Robert Maxwell was convicted late last year on five of six counts, the most serious for sex trafficking minors.
Her lawyers have argued for leniency, citing a traumatic childhood and claiming that Maxwell is being unfairly punished because Epstein escaped trial.
They called for Nathan to hand down a sentence less than the US probation office's recommended 20 years.
Prosecutors have asked that Maxwell receive between 30 and 55 years in jail, arguing that she has shown an "utter lack of remorse" for her crimes, committed between 1994 and 2004.
But Nathan hinted that she was set to issue a shorter term, telling the court that the guidelines put the range of sentence between 15 and a half and 19 and a half years.
During Maxwell's high-profile trial in late 2021, the prosecutors successfully proved that she was "the key" to Epstein's scheme of enticing young girls to give him massages, during which he would sexually abuse them.
Two of Epstein's victims, identified as "Jane" and "Carolyn," testified that they were as young as 14 when Maxwell began grooming them.
Maxwell's lawyers say their client had "a difficult, traumatic childhood with an overbearing, narcissistic, and demanding father."
"It made her vulnerable to Epstein, whom she met right after her father's death," they wrote in submissions filed earlier this month.
Money manager Epstein killed himself in prison 2019 aged 66 while awaiting his own sex crimes trial in New York.
"Ms.Maxwell cannot and should not bear all the punishment for which Epstein should have been held responsible," her attorneys pleaded.
The prosecution contended in its own court filing last week that Maxwell "was an adult who made her own choices."
"She made the choice to conspire with Epstein for years, working as partners in crime and causing devastating harm to vulnerable victims," wrote Damian Williams, the US attorney for the Southern District of New York.
Maxwell has already been held in detention for some two years following her arrest in New Hampshire in the summer of 2020.
"Ghislaine must die in prison," Maxwell and Epstein accuser Sarah Ransome told reporters outside court.
Maxwell's sentencing will cap a dramatic fall for the former international jetsetter who grew up in wealth and privilege as a friend to royalty.
Her circle included Britain's Prince Andrew, former US president and real estate baron Donald Trump and the Clinton family.
In February, Prince Andrew settled a sexual abuse lawsuit with Virginia Giuffre, who said she had been trafficked to the royal by Epstein and Maxwell.
In April, Nathan rejected a request by Maxwell for a new trial.
She unsuccessfully argued that a juror, who had boasted of helping convince fellow panelists to convict Maxwell by recalling his own experiences as a sex abuse victim, had biased the jury.