Maxwell Seeks New Trial After Juror Reveals Abuse History
(Bloomberg) -- Ghislaine Maxwell formally asked for a new trial after her lawyers raised concerns that at least one of the jurors who convicted her of sex-trafficking didn’t disclose during pretrial screenings he was sexually abused as a child.
Maxwell’s request was filed late Wednesday under seal. Bobbi Sternheim, one of her defense lawyers, asked for the filing to not be released publicly until the court rules on the request.
The British socialite was found guilty on Dec. 29 of enticing, grooming and sexually abusing underage girls with Jeffrey Epstein. The guilty verdict was widely seen as long-delayed justice for victims of Epstein. The disgraced financier was arrested in July 2019 on his own sex-trafficking case but was found dead in his federal jail cell a month later in what authorities later ruled was suicide.
Lawyers for Maxwell, 60, said they would ask for a new trial shortly after Juror No. 50, who identified himself as Scotty David, his first and middle names, said in a number of post-verdict press interviews that he raised his past sexual abuse to sway other jurors to convict her. The jurors’ names haven’t been publicly disclosed
“We request that all submissions pertaining to Juror No. 50 remain under seal until the court rules on the motion,” Sternheim wrote in a letter to U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan that accompanied the sealed motion.
Nathan asked both sides to brief her on arguments for and against a new trial. The government has until Feb. 2 to file its response to Maxwell’s request. Nathan has tentatively set Maxwell’s sentencing for June 28.
While an extensive pretrial questionnaire asked potential jurors about any history of sexual abuse, Scotty David told Reuters and the Daily Mail that he didn’t remember being questioned about this and said he “flew through” the questions. A second juror also told the New York Times they were sexually abused as a child and raised it during deliberations.
Thought it’s rare that such disclosures by jurors after a verdict lead to the overturning of a criminal conviction several former judges and prosecutors said Scotty David’s omission can’t be brushed aside because abuse was so central to the sex-trafficking case.
Nathan is also mulling over a request by Scotty David to be allowed to see a lengthy questionnaire he filled out before the trial. Meanwhile, Maxwell faces a separate trial on two perjury counts that Nathan ruled she would face after her sex-trafficking case concluded.
Prosecutors have said they’d drop those charges if Maxwell doesn’t prevail on her request to overturn her conviction and for a new trial.
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