Just under two months ago, former socialite Ghislaine Maxwell was found guilty on five counts related to her sex trafficking scheme with the late Jeffrey Epstein.
However, the decision is now hanging in the balance after a juror from the case seemingly admitted to news reporters that he lied during the jury selection.
According to the New York Post, juror Scotty David, recognized by his first and middle names, told reporters after the trial he had been sexually assaulted as a child.
Manhattan federal Judge Alison Nathan said these statements “cast doubt on the accuracy of his responses during jury selection.” Given the nature of the case, she could presumably have asked David to excuse himself from the jury if she had known he was an abuse victim.
Nathan said jurors were given a questionnaire asking if they or a close friend or family member had been a victim of sexual abuse. If a juror responded “yes,” Nathan asked them further questions to determine their ability to be impartial in the case, the Post reported.
In a January interview with Reuters, David said he “flew through” the questionnaire and did not remember being asked about past sexual abuse. He said he would have answered honestly if he were asked.
To complicate matters, David said he shared his experience with other jurors while they were deliberating. He made the decision to discuss his abuse when some of the jurors doubted whether two of the victims’ testimonies were completely factual.
David said he told fellow jurors it was not uncommon to forget specific details about abuse, and that he himself had experienced this phenomenon.
“When I shared that … they were able to come around on the memory aspect of the sexual abuse,” David told Reuters.
Does Maxwell deserve a new trial?
David told Reuters it “wasn’t easy” for the jury to come to a unanimous decision in the case.
“There’s a room of 12 people and we all have to be on the same page and we all have to understand what’s going on,” he said. “And then we have to agree. So that’s partly why it took so long.”
If David failed to disclose his personal experience with abuse and then used that experience to potentially sway jurors into a guilty verdict, one can see how that would compromise the integrity of the case.
“Juror 50’s post-trial statements are ‘clear, strong, substantial and incontrovertible evidence that a specific, nonspeculative impropriety’ — namely, a false statement during jury selection — has occurred,” Nathan wrote in a Thursday court order according to the Post.
As a result of this development, Maxwell had previously requested a new trial. Nathan stopped short of granting that request based solely on David’s comments to reporters, because she said they were not made under oath.
Yet in the order, Nathan said she will question David under oath on March 8 and determine her next steps.
Nathan told Maxwell’s attorneys they must file their motion for a new trial publicly by Friday. Prior to that, the motion had been sealed, the Post reported.
Additionally, prosecutors are required to file their response to the motion. David’s legal team has not commented on the March 8 hearing.
Maxwell’s five convictions related to her finding and grooming teenagers for assault by Epstein in the 1990s and 2000s. As it currently stands, she would face up to 65 years in prison.