- Ghislaine Maxwell said that her "greatest regret" was meeting Jeffrey Epstein.
- She delivered the remarks moments before a federal judge sentenced her to 20 years in prison.
- Maxwell, 60, also acknowledged the "pain and anguished experiences" of her victims.
Moments before British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell was sentenced to 20 years in prison, she acknowledged the "pain and anguished experiences" of her victims and said that her "greatest regret ever" was meeting Jeffrey Epstein.
In a statement to the court on Tuesday, Maxwell also said the convicted pedophile was a "manipulative" and "controlling man" who "profoundly compartmentalized his life" and "fooled all those in his orbit."
A federal judge sentenced Maxwell, 60, to 20 years in prison for trafficking girls to have sex with Epstein and sexually abusing them herself. She was also issued a $750,000 fine.
During her speech to the court, Maxwell acknowledged the victims who gave impact statements, saying it was "difficult to hear and absorb" their stories, and that she "empathizes deeply" with them.
"I hope my incarceration brings you closure, some measure of peace and finality," she added. "May this day help you travel from the darkness into the light."
But she stopped short of taking full responsibility for her actions. Instead, she spoke about Epstein and the "devastating impact" he had on the lives of those around him.
"Jeffrey Epstein should have been standing here before all of you," Maxwell said. Epstein died of an apparent suicide in jail in August 2019, before he could be brought to trial himself.
Maxwell's focus on Epstein's actions, instead of her own, was later noted by Judge Alison J. Nathan.
Nathan said it was important for the victims to hear Maxwell acknowledge their suffering, but "what wasn't expressed" in Maxwell's statement was "acceptance of responsibility."
Nathan said it showed a "pattern of deflection of blame," on Maxwell's part.
A jury in December found Maxwell guilty of five of six sex trafficking and conspiracy charges after five days of deliberating.
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