Federal prosecutors in Manhattan, writing that Ghislaine Maxwell had made the choice to conspire with Jeffrey Epstein for years, “working as partners in crime and causing devastating harm to vulnerable victims,” asked a judge on Wednesday night to sentence her to at least 30 years in prison.
Ms. Maxwell, 60, is to be sentenced on Tuesday in Federal District Court in Manhattan. If the judge follows the government’s recommendation, she could spend much of the rest of her life in prison.
Ms. Maxwell was convicted on Dec. 29 on five of the six counts she faced, including sex trafficking, after a monthlong trial in which witnesses testified that she helped Mr. Epstein recruit, groom and abuse underage girls.
Ms. Maxwell’s lawyers, in a brief last week, asked the judge, Alison J. Nathan, to impose a sentence below the 20 years recommended by the court’s probation department. The lawyers suggested that the government had decided to prosecute Ms. Maxwell after Mr. Epstein’s jailhouse suicide in 2019 to appease his victims and “repair the tarnished reputations” of the Justice Department and the Bureau of Prisons, in whose custody the disgraced financier died.
The defense also suggested that blame for Ms. Maxwell’s conduct lay with Mr. Epstein and her father, the late British media magnate Robert Maxwell, who they said was a cruel and intimidating parent.
The government, in its letter on Wednesday to Judge Nathan, dismissed those claims, asserting that if anything stood out from Ms. Maxwell’s sentencing submission, it was her failure to address her criminal conduct and her “utter lack of remorse.”
“Instead of showing even a hint of acceptance of responsibility,” the office of Damian Williams, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, wrote, “the defendant makes a desperate attempt to cast blame wherever else she can.”
The prosecutors said Ms. Maxwell’s attempt “to cast aspersions on the government for prosecuting her, and her claim that she is being held responsible for Epstein’s crimes, are both absurd and offensive.”
“Maxwell was an adult who made her own choices,” the government added. “She made the choice to sexually exploit numerous underage girls.”
Ms. Maxwell’s trial focused primarily on events from 1994 to 2004, a period when she and Mr. Epstein recruited girls for him to abuse, prosecutors charged. The government presented its case over 10 days, through 24 witnesses. They included four women, all now adults, whose cases were at the center of the indictment.
Two of the women testified that Mr. Epstein began engaging in sex with them when they were only 14. Ms. Maxwell was sometimes present in the encounters, one woman testified; the other said Ms. Maxwell had directly molested her by touching her breasts.
In the government’s sentencing brief, prosecutors said Mr. Epstein could not have committed his crimes without Ms. Maxwell, who provided a “cover of respectability to Epstein that lulled the victims and their families into a false sense of security.”
Indeed, the government said, Ms. Maxwell worked with Mr. Epstein to select victims who she knew were vulnerable to exploitation —…