CONTENT WARNING: This article discusses child sexual abuse.

Disgraced socialite Ghislaine Maxwell was sentenced to 20 years in prison Tuesday for helping deceased financier Jeffrey Epstein sexually abuse underage girls.

She was found guilty on five of six sex trafficking and conspiracy charges in December, including sex trafficking a minor, enticing a minor to travel, transporting a minor and three counts of conspiracy relating to the three previous charges.

Maxwell was the long-time partner of billionaire paedophile Jeffrey Epstein, who died by suicide in jail in 2019 while awaiting trial. She was charged for helping him lure in girls as young as 14 who prosecutors said he abused hundreds of times between 1994 and 2004.

Maxwell’s lawyers argued she should be sentenced to five years in jail. They said she had been seen as the scapegoat for Epstein.

Prosecutors last week called for Maxwell to be sentenced to 30 to 55 years in jail. They said Epstein couldn’t have abused his victims without her help and called her conduct “shockingly predatory”.

US District Judge Alison Nathan said “a very significant sentence is necessary” and that the court wanted to send an “unmistakable message” that sex trafficking crimes would not go unpunished.

In court Maxwell said meeting Epstein was her “greatest regret”, but didn’t go so far as to apologise for her own role.

“It is hard for me to address the court after listening to the pain and anguish expressed in the statements made here today,” she said.

“I believe that Jeffrey Epstein was a manipulative, cunning and controlling man who lived a profoundly compartmentalised life and fooled all of those in his orbit.”

She told victims she was “sorry for the pain that you experienced”.

“I hope my conviction and harsh incarceration brings you closure, peace and finality.”

Victims said Maxwell’s apology “doesn’t cut it”.

Sarah Ramsome told reporters outside of the courthouse: “I wish she was sorry when she was busy forcing me into a room to be raped. She should have been sorry then.”

“To force someone into a room to be raped — there’s not enough ‘sorry’s in the world. ‘I am sorry’ doesn’t cut it,” she said.

“And as far as I’m concerned actions speak louder than words.”

Image: Getty Images