Ghislaine Maxwell’s prosecutors seek inquiry into juror’s sexual abuse claim

NEW YORK, Jan 5 (Reuters) – U.S. prosecutors who last week won Ghislaine Maxwell’s conviction for recruiting teenagers for Jeffrey Epstein to sexually abuse on Wednesday asked the trial judge to open an inquiry into one juror’s statements to the media about having been a victim of sexual abuse.

The juror, who asked to be identified by his first and middle names, Scotty David, told Reuters he “flew through” the juror questionnaire used before trial to determine whether prospective jurors could judge Maxwell fairly.

Scotty David said he also did not recall being asked about his experiences with sexual abuse. He said he would have answered honestly.

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In a letter to U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan in Manhattan, prosecutors led by U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said the juror’s statements to the media “merit attention” by the court, and asked that a hearing be scheduled about one month from now.

They also said court staff should ask the juror whether he wants a lawyer. Media cited by prosecutors include Reuters, the Daily Mail and The Independent.

Lawyers for Maxwell did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Scotty David did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Maxwell, 60, was convicted on Dec. 29 of sex trafficking and other charges for recruiting and grooming underage girls for Epstein to abuse between 1994 and 2004.

The British socialite faces up to 70 years in prison but is expected to appeal her conviction, which followed a monthlong trial.

Epstein, a financier and convicted sex offender, killed himself in August 2019 in a Manhattan jail while awaiting his own sex trafficking trial.

Moira Penza, a partner at the Wilkinson Stekloff law firm and a former federal prosecutor, said any inquiry would likely focus on whether the juror made a mistake or omission in answering questions on an initial screening questionnaire for prospective jurors or follow-up questions from the judge.

Maxwell’s jurors had been asked whether they or family members had personally experienced sexual abuse or assault.

Jurors who said yes were asked by the judge during follow-up questioning whether that would affect their ability to be fair and impartial.

“Defense lawyers will argue that this question was so part and parcel to figuring out that juror’s bias or any juror’s bias,” she said.

Penza said there have been instances where courts granted new trials based on “purposeful lies or ommissions” during the process of screening jurors, known as voir dire, which she said “is not what we’re hearing so far.”

Scotty David, a 35-year-old Manhattan resident, told Reuters that during deliberations, after some jurors questioned some recollections from two of Maxwell’s accusers, he shared his experience of having been sexually abused as a child.

“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,” Scotty David said, referring to other jurors.

He added that reaching a unanimous verdict “wasn’t easy, to be honest.”

Penza said that in any inquiry about the juror’s statements, the judge would be restricted from asking about the impact Scotty David’s statements had on jury deliberations, because the secrecy of the deliberation process is considered “sacrosanct.”

Maxwell was convicted on five of the six counts she faced. She faces two additional perjury counts at a second trial that has yet to be scheduled.

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Reporting by Luc Cohen and Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Howard Gollerd, Noeleen Walder and Jonathan Oatis

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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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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