Impact statements offer an opportunity for victims to speak about the harm they suffered — as well as to inform the sentence handed down by a case’s judge.
In addressing the court, people can describe what they experienced. It is often a way for them to define what they went through and to have something approaching the last word. There is also an expectation that judges will listen carefully and consider victims’ stories.
The statements can be delivered in a variety of ways. Some are sent in a letter to the court. Sometimes a victim will send an audio file to be played or appear on a screen from a remote locale. The most affecting statements are often those delivered in person by victims — standing in front of the judge and defendant, their physical presence serves as an expression of empowerment.
Several people delivered such statements in Federal District Court in Manhattan on Tuesday before Judge Alison Nathan’s sentencing of Ghislaine Maxwell.
In her statement to the court, Annie Farmer, who was only 16 when she met Jeffrey Epstein, asked the judge to “take into account the ongoing suffering of the many women she abused and exploited, as we will continue to live with the memories of the ways she harmed us.”
“I ask you to bear in mind how Maxwell’s unwillingness to acknowledge her crimes, her lack of remorse, and her repeated lies about her victims created the need for many of us to engage in a long fight for justice that has felt like a black hole sucking in our precious time, energy and well-being for much too long now,” she added. “Those things cannot be replaced.”
Annie Farmer testified at Ms. Maxwell’s trial that she was introduced to Mr. Epstein when she was 16 while visiting her older sister, who was then working for him in New York City.
Mr. Epstein offered to help with her education, Ms. Farmer testified, and a few months later she flew to New Mexico at his invitation. That’s where she first met Ms. Maxwell, whom she described as a “trim, attractive woman” who greeted her enthusiastically. Ms. Farmer said that she felt comfortable going to New Mexico in part because she was told Ms. Maxwell — whom she believed to be Mr. Epstein’s romantic partner — would be there.
Ms. Maxwell instructed her to massage Mr. Epstein, Ms. Farmer said. She did so but felt very uncomfortable, testifying: “I did not want to be touching his feet.”
Afterward, Ms. Farmer said, Ms. Maxwell gave her a massage in which she touched the top of her breasts. The next morning, she testified, Mr. Epstein “bounded” into the bed where she was sleeping and pressed his body against hers. Ms. Farmer said she “made an excuse,” got up and locked herself in a bathroom.
Kate, who was identified only by her first name in court documents and proceedings, said she was 17 and living in London, with an ill mother and few friends, when she met Ms. Maxwell.
In court, Kate called for a policy of “zero tolerance” for all of those who groom or sexually abuse the vulnerable.
Dressed in black and speaking in a British accent, Kate said Maxwell’s refusal to take responsibility for the role she played in the abuse of others was “the final insult.”
“She doesn’t think that what she did is wrong,” Kate said of Maxwell. “She is not sorry and she would do it again.”
During the trial, Kate had said of Ms. Maxwell’s tactics, “She seemed to be everything I wanted to be,” adding that knowing Ms. Maxwell made her feel “like somebody wanted me, like somebody wanted to be my friend.”
One day, Ms. Maxwell asked her to massage Mr. Epstein, who then initiated sexual contact with her, Kate testified. That pattern was repeated over the next few years, in London and at his residences in the United States.
Kate told jurors that Ms. Maxwell played a direct role in arranging the encounters with Mr. Epstein, ushering her into massage rooms, coordinating her travel and, in one instance, giving her a “schoolgirl” outfit to wear.
“I didn’t know how to say no,” Kate testified.
Virginia Giuffre, one of Mr. Epstein’s most prominent accusers, had her lawyer read a statement on her behalf.
“I would never have met Jeffrey Epstein but for you,” Ms. Giuffre’s statement, addressed to Maxwell, said. “You deserve to spend the rest of your life in a jail cell,” the statement said. “You deserve to be trapped in a cage.”
Ms. Giuffre has claimed in a lawsuit that Ms. Maxwell forced Ms. Giuffre to have sexual intercourse with Prince Andrew, known as the Duke of York, at Ms. Maxwell’s home in London.