Ghislaine Maxwell trial: will jurors’ sex abuse revelations lead to a retrial?
Lawyers for former socialite say judge ‘can and should order’ new hearing
Ghislaine Maxwell’s lawyers have called for a retrial after a second juror revealed that they were sexually abused as a child and spoke of the experience during deliberations.
Days after a first juror said that his story of childhood sexual abuse helped to quell jury room doubts over why accusers waited years before coming forward, a second juror told The New York Times (NYT) that they also disclosed the abuse they suffered as a child.
A former federal prosecutor told The Times that the situation is “an absolute train wreck”, adding: “I believe that it’s likely going to result in a mistrial.” Here is what we know.
What have the jurors said?
The second unnamed juror told the NYT that they had been sexually abused as a child and that they “discussed the experience during deliberations” which “appeared to help shape the jury’s discussions”.
The news came days after another juror, identified only by his first and middle names as Scotty David, gave a series of media interviews in which he said he had helped sway the deliberations by recounting his own trauma as a result of childhood sexual abuse.
“I know what happened when I was sexually abused. I remember the colour of the carpet, the walls. Some of it can be replayed like a video,” he told the jury, according to The Independent.
“I can’t remember all the details, there are some things that run together. 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,” he added, said the BBC.
What will happen now?
Maxwell’s lawyers have indicated that they plan to appeal for a mistrial, stating in two letters to the court that their client would seek a new trial and that the judge “can and should order” one without holding a hearing.
They said that Maxwell planned to make her request under a federal rule that grants a judge the power to order a new trial when the “interest of justice so requires”.
Judge Alison Nathan has agreed to hear Maxwell’s motion for a new trial, setting a deadline of 19 January for the defence to file a motion to “vacate the sex-trafficking conviction”, The Telegraph said.
Much will now hang on whether the jurors “honestly” identified themselves as survivors of sexual abuse on a jury questionnaire, The Times said.
According to The Telegraph, Scotty David incorrectly told the court he had not been a victim of sexual assault. A source with knowledge of the case told the paper that the juror had answered “no” to the question of whether they had ever been a victim of such a crime.
Scotty David has retained attorney Todd Spodek after he was advised by the US government to seek legal representation.
Arlo Devlin-Brown, a former federal prosecutor, told the NYT that “generally there is nothing wrong with jurors bringing their personal experiences into deliberations”.
However, he added that “dishonesty during the selection process goes to the very integrity of the proceedings and credible allegations of such are taken very seriously”.
Maxwell was convicted on five charges relating to the trafficking and transportation of teenagers who were sexually abused by the late financier Jeffrey Epstein.
The jury deliberated for more than 40 hours. A date for her sentencing has not yet been set but she faces up to 65 years in prison.