(FILES) In this file photo taken on September 20, 2013, Ghislaine Maxwell attends day 1 of the 4th Annual WIE Symposium at Center 548 in New York City. - Maxwell, the former girlfriend of late financier Jeffrey Epstein, was arrested in the United States on July 2, 2020, by FBI officers investigating his sex crimes, multiple US media outlets reported. (Photo by Laura Cavanaugh / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP)

A court in New York has sentenced Epstein confidante Ghislaine Maxwell to a lengthy prison sentence after a world-renowned trial for sex crimes. Judge Alison Nathan said the 60-year-old had to go to prison for 20 years, among other things, for human trafficking of minors for abuse purposes. Epstein’s crimes are “appalling” and “despicable,” Nathan said.

She was sorry for the victims’ pain, Maxwell, dressed in a gray top, told the court. She regrets more than anything that she met Jeffrey Epstein. The defense of the 60-year-old had recently pleaded for a much milder prison sentence of less than ten years.

Maxwell was found guilty by a New York jury in December. She was considered the right hand of businessman Epstein, who was networked to the highest US circles, and played a central role in setting up a ring for the sexual abuse of girls. Maxwell had announced that he would appeal.

The trial attracted global attention because many saw it as a proxy trial after Epstein’s death. According to official sources, Epstein killed himself in his prison cell in the summer of 2019.

The interest in the process was correspondingly huge. On Tuesday, when the sentence was announced, dozens of journalists from all over the world crowded for hours in front of the courthouse in downtown Manhattan in addition to many onlookers to be admitted to the courtroom.

For the past few days, there had been some confusion as to whether Maxwell’s sentence would actually be announced because she was being held in prison for suicidal tendencies. Her lawyers denied that the defendant was suicidal.

For decades, numerous minors were allegedly abused at Epstein’s estates in New York, Florida, Santa Fe and the Virgin Islands. The case also made waves in the United States because the entrepreneur was known to celebrities such as ex-Presidents Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, tech billionaire Bill Gates and British Prince Andrew.

A previous indictment against Epstein resulted in a deal that was very advantageous for the entrepreneur, making him a symbol of a social elite that can get away with crime. His celebrity relationships and death fueled numerous rumors and conspiracy theories.

According to the indictment, Maxwell’s role in the systematic abuse by Epstein was to gain the trust of girls and bring them to their former partner – often for so-called massages.

A few times Maxwell was even present during attacks. She also built up a “culture of silence” to keep the deeds secret. She did this to maintain her own life of luxury with Epstein. Similar to ex-movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, her conviction was mainly based on testimonies.

Maxwell is the daughter of legendary British publisher Robert Maxwell (1923-1991). She had come to New York in the early 1990s. There she met Epstein at one of the numerous celebrity parties and was temporarily in a relationship with him. Those close to Epstein described her role in his life as a mix of employee and best friend.