Judge Set to Question Juror who Convicted Ghislaine Maxwell
NEW YORK (AP) — A juror arrived at a Manhattan courthouse Tuesday to face questions from a judge weighing whether his apparent false answer to a question during jury selection spoils the conviction of British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell.
Lawyers for Maxwell, who was convicted on charges that she helped financier Jeffrey Epstein sexually abuse teenage girls, say the verdict should be thrown out over the juror’s failure to disclose before the trial began that he’d been a victim of childhood sexual abuse.
U.S. Judge Alison J. Nathan intends to ask the juror why he failed to note his personal history on a questionnaire during the jury selection process.
Maxwell’s lawyers potentially could have objected to the man’s presence on the jury on the grounds that he might not be fair to a person accused of a similar crime.
The juror arrived at court more than an hour before the hearing, but he declined to comment to reporters.
Maxwell’s sentencing is scheduled for June.
The juror, identified in court papers only as Juror No. 50, did several media interviews after the trial in which he revealed he’d been abused. He described persuading some fellow jurors during deliberations that a victim’s imperfect memory of abuse doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.
All potential jurors in the case had been asked to fill out a screening form in early November that asked, “Have you or a friend or family member ever been the victim of sexual harassment, sexual abuse, or sexual assault? (This includes actual or attempted sexual assault or other unwanted sexual advance, including by a stranger, acquaintance, supervisor, teacher, or family member.)”
The juror checked “No.” The juror said in the interviews he flew through the questionnaire and didn’t remember being asked that question, which was No. 48 on the form.
Prosecutors told the judge late Monday that they expect to offer the juror immunity in return for his testimony. His lawyer said the juror would have invoked his Fifth Amendment privilege without it.
Defense lawyers for Maxwell asked the judge to immediately order a new trial, but she said she could not do so without questioning the juror.
The juror also checked “No” on a question which asked: “Have you, or any of your relatives or close friends, ever been a victim of a crime?”
Maxwell, 60, was convicted of sex trafficking and other charges after a monthlong trial that featured testimony from four women who said she played a role in setting them up for abuse by Epstein.
Epstein killed himself in August 2019 as he awaited trial at a federal jail in New York on related sex trafficking charges.
Maxwell says she’s innocent.