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Ghislaine Maxwell’s attorneys appeal her federal conviction and sentence

By Lauren del Valle, CNN

Attorneys for Ghislaine Maxwell have appealed her conviction and 20-year federal prison sentence for carrying out a yearslong scheme with her longtime confidante Jeffrey Epstein to groom and sexually abuse underage girls.

Maxwell’s defense argument was not immediately available, but her attorneys have maintained her innocence since her 2020 arrest, asserting Maxwell has been a scapegoat for prosecutors in the wake of Epstein’s death in prison.

A notice of appeal was filed Thursday in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

Maxwell, 60, was found guilty of five of six federal charges against her in December: sex trafficking of a minor, transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity and three related counts of conspiracy.

She was sentenced on only three counts after the judge agreed two of the conspiracy counts she faced were repetitive.

At Maxwell’s sentencing in June, defense attorney Bobbi Sternheim, as she did during the trial, pushed the blame on Epstein.

“We all know that the person who should have been sentenced today escaped accountability, avoided his victims, avoided absorbing their pain and receiving the punishment he truly deserved,” Sternheim said. “Jeffrey Epstein left Ghislaine Maxwell holding the whole bag.”

The trial judge, Alison Nathan, disagreed.

“Miss Maxwell is not punished in place of Epstein,” she said. “Miss Maxwell is being punished for the role that she played.”

Maxwell did not testify at her trial but spoke briefly at her sentencing, acknowledging she had been convicted but stopped short of taking responsibility.

“I am sorry for the pain that you’ve experienced,” Maxwell said. “I hope my conviction … brings you closure.”

Epstein, who pleaded guilty in 2008 to state prostitution charges, was indicted on federal sex trafficking charges in July 2019. He died by suicide in prison a month later. Maxwell has been detained since her arrest in July 2020, and prosecutors said she received credit for two years of time served.

Maxwell’s monthlong trial last year alternated between disturbing testimony from sexual abuse victims and illuminating testimony about some of Epstein’s connections to high-profile celebrities.

Prosecutors argued Maxwell and Epstein conspired to set up a scheme to lure young girls into sexual relationships with Epstein from 1994 to 2004 in New York, Florida, New Mexico and the US Virgin Islands. Four women testified during the trial that Epstein abused them and that Maxwell facilitated the abuse and sometimes participated in it as well.

Her defense, meanwhile, besides arguing she was a scapegoat, also attacked the memories and motivations of the women who say they were sexually abused.

According to the Bureau of Prisons website, Maxwell is being housed at a federal detention facility in Brooklyn.

™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

CNN’s Mark Morales, Sonia Moghe and Eric Levenson contributed to this report.

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