A New York judge has denied Ghislaine Maxwell‘s request for a retrial on sex trafficking charges, after it emerged that one of the jurors had been sexually abused – but failed to disclose it.
Maxwell, 60, was convicted in December of grooming and trafficking underage girls for her ex-boyfriend, Jeffrey Epstein.
Days after her conviction, Maxwell’s attorneys requested a new trial because ‘Juror 50,’ referred to as Scotty David, told newspapers he had been sexually abused as a child, but had not disclosed the information during jury selection, as required.
He also told reporters that he used his experience to help sway fellow jurors who were skeptical of certain victims’ testimony.
On Friday, Maxwell’s lawyer, Bobbi Sternheim, wrote to Judge Alison Nathan, asking her to delay her ruling on whether the British socialite will be granted a new criminal trial because of a pending TV interview with Juror 50.
He spoke to a crew for Paramount Plus’ documentary series ‘Ghislaine – Partner in Crime.’ The series is yet to air, and no date has been set.
Nathan refused to delay her decision and denied a retrial – setting a date for Maxwell’s sentencing for June 28.
In an opinion certain to trigger a higher court appeal, Nathan said the juror’s failure to disclose his prior sexual abuse during the jury selection process was highly unfortunate, but not deliberate.
The judge also concluded the juror ‘harbored no bias toward the defendant and could serve as a fair and impartial juror.’
But Nathan, explaining why she denied the retrial, wrote that the juror’s claims that he remained impartial toward Maxwell rang true.
When questioned about it, he answered ‘frankly and honestly, even when the answers he gave were the cause of personal embarrassment and regret,’ she said, in her 40-page decision.
‘The court finds Juror 50 testified credibly at the hearing,’ Nathan wrote.
‘There are many reasons for that finding. He appeared to testify frankly and honestly, even when the answers he gave were the cause of personal embarrassment and regret.
‘His incentive at the hearing was to testify truthfully or face criminal perjury charges.’
Nathan added: ‘His tone, demeanor and responsiveness gave no indication of false testimony. The court thus credits his testimony that he was distracted as he filled out the questionnaire and ‘skimmed way too fast’, leading him to misunderstand some of the questions.
‘The court further finds that Juror 50 was not biased and would not have been stricken for cause even if he had answered each question on the questionnaire accurately.’
Nathan wrote that David was not inherently biased because of his background.
‘To imply or infer that Juror 50 was biased – simply because he was himself a victim of sexual abuse in a trial related to sexual abuse and sex trafficking, and despite his own credible testimony under the penalty of perjury, establishing that he could be an even-handed and impartial juror – would be tantamount to concluding that an individual with a history of sexual abuse can never serve as a fair and impartial juror in such a trial,’ Nathan wrote.
‘That is not the law, nor should it be.
‘In sum, the court concludes that the evidence in the record does not support the finding that Juror 50 was biased. Juror 50’s sworn testimony did not reveal actual partiality. And Juror 50 was not impliedly or inferably biased,’ Nathan said in her ruling.
‘He was neither a victim nor otherwise involved in the actual crimes. Nor does he have any sort of relationship with any of the parties or case participants.’
‘His failure to disclose his prior sexual abuse during the jury selection process was highly unfortunate, but not deliberate,’ Nathan continued.
‘The court further concludes that Juror 50 harbored no bias toward the defendant and could serve as a fair and impartial juror.’