Ghislaine Maxwell to seek new trial after juror's sexual abuse claim -lawyer

Reuters

Ghislaine Maxwell, who was convicted last week of aiding Jeffrey Epstein’s sexual abuses, deserves a new trial, her lawyer said on Wednesday after a juror told media including Reuters that he had been a victim of sexual abuse.

In a letter to U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan in Manhattan, who presided over Maxwell’s trial, the lawyer, Christian Everdell, said there were “incontrovertible grounds” for Maxwell to get a new trial, to serve the interest of justice.

He called the matter “an issue of pressing importance,” saying disclosures by the juror “influenced the deliberations and convinced other members of the jury to convict Ms. Maxwell.”

Everdell filed the letter shortly after asking Nathan to open an inquiry into the juror’s statements.

Nathan’s decision on whether a new trial is warranted could hinge on how the juror responded to questions during jury selection about his experiences with sexual abuse, which legal experts said was a key question that defense lawyers were looking at to weed out potentially biased jurors.

The office of U.S. Attorney Damian Williams, which prosecuted Maxwell, declined to comment.

Maxwell, 60, was convicted on Dec. 29 of sex trafficking and other charges for recruiting and grooming underage girls for Epstein to abuse between 1994 and 2004.

Epstein, a financier and convicted sex offender, killed himself in August 2019 in a Manhattan jail while awaiting his own sex trafficking trial.

The juror, who asked to be identified by his first and middle names, Scotty David, told Reuters on Tuesday evening that during deliberations, after some jurors expressed skepticism about the accounts of two of Maxwell’s accusers, he shared his experience of having been sexually abused as a child.

“When I shared that, they were able to sort of come around on, they were able to come around on the memory aspect of the sexual abuse,” Scotty David, a 35-year-old Manhattan resident, said, referring to other jurors.

Scotty David did not immediately reply to a request for comment on Wednesday.

JUROR QUESTIONNAIRES

Following the request for a new trial, attorney Todd Spodek made an appearance in the case and said in a court filing that he was representing Juror No. 50. Spodek did not give the juror’s name and did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Juror No. 50 was one of the 18 jurors selected on Nov. 29 to serve as a juror or an alternate.

Hundreds of prospective jurors filled out questionnaires that asked them, among other things, if they or their family members had experienced sexual abuse or assault.

During follow-up questioning, Nathan asked those who answered “yes” if they would still be able to be fair and impartial.

Scotty David told Reuters he did not recall a question about personal experiences with sexual abuse on the questionnaire, but that he would have answered honestly. He said he “flew through” the questionnaire.

He said Nathan did not ask about his personal experience with sexual abuse during follow-up questioning.

During follow-up questioning on Nov. 16…

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