Ghislaine Maxwell Blames ‘Narcissistic’ Billionaire Father For Involvement With Epstein


Lawyers for Ghislaine Maxwell asked a federal court for leniency in a memo filed Wednesday two weeks before Maxwell is set to be sentenced, blaming childhood trauma and abuse from her “narcissistic” billionaire father for her involvement with disgraced former financier Jeffrey Epstein.

Key Facts

In the 77-page document filed in Federal District Court, Maxwell’s lawyers asked that she be given a sentence “well below” the 20 years recommended by the court in her sex-trafficking case, citing a host of reasons, including childhood mistreatment and a threat from a cellmate to murder her.

Lawyers for Maxwell—who was found guilty last December on five charges, including the sex-trafficking of minors—claimed her older brother Michael’s car accident and coma two days after her birth “disrupted the equilibrium” of her family, leaving her neglected and claiming she suffered from anorexia while “still a toddler.”

Maxwell also accused her father—disgraced media tycoon Robert Maxwell, who fell to his death from his yacht amid mounting financial troubles—of abusing her, including one incident when he took a hammer to her hand.

Maxwell’s lawyers pleaded with the court not to sentence Maxwell “as if she were a proxy for Epstein”—who was found dead in his cell in August 2019, ruled a suicide by a medical examiner—while her siblings claimed in letters including in the filing Robert Maxwell’s “psychologically abusive treatment” of Ghislaine “foreshadowed Epstein’s own ability to exploit, manipulate and control her.”

Lawyers also argued Maxwell has experienced “far more onerous and punitive” conditions than a typical pretrial detainee, alleging another female inmate in her unit had threatened to kill her for money.

Crucial Quote

“She 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. It is the biggest mistake she made in her life and one that she has not and never will repeat,” her lawyers claimed in the memo.

Chief Critic

“Maxwell was a sophisticated predator who knew exactly what she was doing,” Alison Moe, an assistant U.S. attorney, said in a closing argument during Maxwell’s trial. “She manipulated her victims and groomed them … She caused deep and lasting harm to young girls. It is time to hold her accountable.”

Key Background

Maxwell was charged with six counts related to allegations she helped Epstein, a convicted sex offender, groom and abuse young girls. Maxwell—who pleaded not guilty—has argued she is serving as a “scapegoat” for Epstein, who died by suicide in 2019 while awaiting sex trafficking charges in a New York prison. Maxwell was arrested in New Hampshire in 2020 following Epstein’s arrest and months of investigations by the FBI. Several women testified during Maxwell’s trial she helped groom them as teenagers—some when they were as young as 14 years old—for sexual activity with Epstein. Maxwell grew up in Headington Hill Hall, a mansion in Oxford in the United Kingdom where her family threw parties attended by politicians and celebrities. Her father fled Nazi Germany and bought a small publishing company that he grew to $3.5 million in value, acquiring a host of British newspapers, including the Daily Mirror. Robert Maxwell perished mysteriously in a fall from his yacht in 1991 after news was set to become public that he defaulted on 50 million pounds in loans.

What To Watch For

Maxwell is scheduled to be sentenced on June 28. She could face up to 55 years in prison.

Further Reading

Maxwell Describes Childhood Mistreatment in Bid for Lighter Sentence (New York Times)

Long Before Ghislaine Maxwell Disappeared, Her Mogul Father Died Mysteriously (Forbes)

Ghislaine Maxwell A ‘Sophisticated’ Predator And ‘Partners In Crime’ With Epstein, Prosecution Claims In Closing Arguments (Forbes)