Ghislaine Maxwell: Juror who spoke out about sexual abuse thrust into an uncomfortable spotlight



Ghislaine Maxwell captured global attention as she was tried and convicted of recruiting and grooming young girls for her “partner in crime” Jeffrey Epstein in a five week sex-trafficking trial late last year.

But as she returns to a Manhattan federal courthouse on Tuesday to hear her lawyers make a last-ditch bid to have those charges dismissed, her presence will be overshadowed by a 35-year-old man known only by his first names who played a key role in finding her guilty.

Juror 50, identified in interviews by the name Scott David, has been called to testify about whether he lied during pre-trial questionnaire which asked they had been victims of sexual abuse.

Maxwell’s lawyers have argued that the failure to disclose his history, which he later discussed in media interviews, was grounds for the convictions to be dismissed and a retrial to be ordered.

The juror has indicated through his attorney Todd Spodek he would invoke the 5th Amendment, to avoid self-incrimination. Prosecutors have said they will offer immunity from prosecution, which could compel him to answer questions fully.

In an interview with The Independent after the trial, Scotty David said sharing his experiences of sexual abuse had helped the jury believe that Maxwell’s victims were telling the truth.

In a separate interview with Reuters he said he did not recall being asked about sexual abuse during pre-trial selection and that he “flew through” a survey given to all prospective jurors.

The questionnaire, which was unsealed by the court on January 24, revealed that Scotty David did not disclose that he had been a victim of sex abuse.

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A legal expert told The Independent that while the bar for a retrial is high, the juror’s comments were “problematic”.

“The parties heavily litigate what is allowed to be presented to the jury – it’s a confined universe of knowledge,” said Los Angeles-based defense lawyer Josh Ritter.

“Whether it’s looking up a location on a map, or some detail on Wikipedia, (jurors) are specifically instructed not to do that.

“In this juror’s case, he’s essentially taking on the role of an expert witness.”

He said if the prosecution had felt it was important for a jury to understand why a victim of sexual abuse may wait a long time before they report it, they would call an expert in that area.

“We don’t want these rogue jury room experts explaining a bunch of stuff that hasn’t been vetted by the lawyers.”

Ghislaine Maxwell speaks to her one of her lawyers during her trial

(REUTERS)

In a written note on 24 February, Judge Alison Nathan explained her decision to call Scotty David to testify.

“To be clear, the potential impropriety is not that someone with a history of sexual abuse may have served on the jury,” Judge Nathan said.

“Rather, it is the potential failure to respond truthfully to questions during the jury selection process that asked for that material information so that any potential bias could be explored.”

Mr Spodek, whose previous clients include the fake German heiress Anna Sorokin, did not respond to a request for comment.

A spokesman for the Southern District of New York told The Independent Maxwell would be present in court for the hearing.

Her high-profile legal team is likely to be missing a few key figures. Last week, her attorneys Bobbi Sternheim and Jeffrey Pagliuca requested that the hearing be delayed until May due to scheduling clashes.

Judge Nathan denied the request.

In December, Maxwell was convicted of five sex-trafficking charges in a federal courthouse in Manhattan for recruiting and grooming young girls to be abused by her former boyfriend Jeffrey Epstein.

Maxwell, who is due to be sentenced in June, faces up to 65 years in prison.

Epstein died in prison in August 2019 while awaiting trial for sex-trafficking offenses.

His death was ruled suicide by the medical examiner.


www.independent.co.uk

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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