Ghislaine Maxwell cited a traumatic childhood and vulnerability to Jeffrey Epstein in a plea for leniency two weeks before her scheduled court sentencing for child sex trafficking.
In a brief filed Wednesday evening, Maxwell's lawyers urged Judge Alison Nathan to sentence the disgraced British socialite to less than the probation department's recommended 20 years.
Maxwell, 60, was convicted late last year of recruiting and grooming young girls to be sexually abused by the late US financier Epstein.
A jury found her guilty on five of six counts, the most serious for sex trafficking minors.
Her sentence, which is slated to come down on June 28 in Manhattan's federal court, could be an effective life behind bars.
"This Court cannot sentence Ms. Maxwell as if she were a proxy for Epstein simply because Epstein is no longer here," her lawyers wrote. "Ms. Maxwell cannot and should not bear all the punishment for which Epstein should have been held responsible."
The lawyers emphasized Maxwell's emotional wounds, saying that "she had a difficult, traumatic childhood with an overbearing, narcissistic, and demanding father."
"It made her vulnerable to Epstein, whom she met right after her father's death," the lawyers said.
"It is the biggest mistake she made in her life and one that she has not and never will repeat."
The Oxford-educated daughter of the late British press baron Robert Maxwell, the former international jetsetter grew up in wealth and privilege as a friend to royalty.
Her circle included Britain's Prince Andrew, former US president and real estate baron Donald Trump and the Clinton family.
Prosecutors in her trial said Maxwell was "the key" to Epstein's scheme of enticing young girls to give him massages, during which he would sexually abuse them.
Epstein killed himself in 2019 while awaiting his own sex crimes trial in New York.
In February, Prince Andrew settled a sexual abuse lawsuit with Virginia Giuffre, who said she had been trafficked to the royal by Epstein and Maxwell.