Ghislaine Maxwell’s lawyer calls for new trial after juror statements

Prosecutors also appeal to judge in sex trafficking case over juror’s comments to media

Reporters last week wait outside the Thurgood Marshall federal courthouse in Manhattan where  Ghislaine Maxwell was convicted. Photograph: Sarah Blesener/The New York Times

Reporters last week wait outside the Thurgood Marshall federal courthouse in Manhattan where Ghislaine Maxwell was convicted. Photograph: Sarah Blesener/The New York Times

 

A lawyer for Ghislaine Maxwell, who was convicted last week of aiding sexual predator Jeffrey Epstein, on Wednesday said the British socialite deserves a new trial after a juror told media that during deliberations he shared his experience of sexual abuse.

In a letter to US district judge Alison Nathan in Manhattan, who presided over Ms Maxwell’s trial, the lawyer for the British socialite said there were “incontrovertible grounds” for a new trial to serve the interest of justice.

The lawyer called the matter “an issue of pressing importance” because, he claimed, disclosures by the juror “influenced the deliberations and convinced other members of the jury to convict Ms Maxwell”.

Ms Maxwell’s lawyer Christian Everdell filed the letter shortly after US prosecutors who last week won Ms Maxwell’s conviction for recruiting teenagers for Epstein to sexually abuse had asked the trial judge to open an inquiry into the juror’s statements to the media about having been a victim of sexual abuse.

The juror, who asked to be identified by his first and middle names, Scotty David, told Reuters he “flew through” the juror questionnaire used before trial to determine whether prospective jurors could judge Ms Maxwell fairly.

Scotty David said he also did not recall being asked about his experiences with sexual abuse. He said he would have answered honestly.

In a letter to Ms Justice Nathan, prosecutors led by US attorney Damian Williams said the juror’s statements to the media “merit attention” by the court, and asked that a hearing be scheduled about one month from now.

They also said court staff should ask the juror whether he wants a lawyer. Media cited by the prosecutors include Reuters and the Daily Mail.

Scotty David did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Sex trafficking

Ms Maxwell (60) was convicted on December 29th of sex trafficking and other charges for recruiting and grooming underage girls for Epstein to abuse between 1994 and 2004.

The British socialite faces up to 70 years in prison but is expected to appeal her conviction, which followed a month-long trial.

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

Scotty David, a 35-year-old Manhattan resident, told Reuters that during deliberations, after some jurors questioned some recollections from two of Ms 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 said, referring to other jurors.

He added that reaching a unanimous verdict “wasn’t easy, to be honest”.

Maxwell was convicted on five of the six counts she faced. She faces two additional perjury counts at a second trial that has yet to be scheduled. – Reuters