Update: Ghislaine Maxwell's bid for a new trial was rejected Friday, when a federal judge ruled that a juror she argued tainted the conviction was not biased. The juror said he hurried through a questionnaire, giving the wrong answer on whether he had ever been sexually abused. "Even if he had answered each question on the questionnaire accurately," Judge Alison Nathan wrote, the juror "would not have been stricken for cause" from the panel, CNBC reports. Our story from March 8 follows:
One of the jurors who convicted Ghislaine Maxwell of crimes including sex trafficking of a minor admitted Tuesday that he failed to disclose past sexual abuse during jury selection—which Maxwell's lawyers argue is enough to warrant a retrial. After Maxwell's conviction, Juror No. 50, who identified himself as 35-year-old Scotty David, told media outlets that recalling his own childhood sexual abuse convinced other jurors to believe the testimony offered by Maxwell's victims, after initial doubts about whether they were recalling events correctly. But in answer to a question about past sexual abuse on his jury screening questionnaire, the juror had checked the "no" box, reports the New York Times.
The juror—who previously said he didn't recall answering the question—"did not truthfully respond to perhaps the most important question put to potential jurors about their personal experiences—a question that pertained directly to the core allegations against Ms. Maxwell," her lawyers argued in seeking a retrial. And if he had, "he would have been challenged, and excluded, for cause." The statements made to the media were "clear, strong, substantial and incontrovertible evidence" that there had been "a false statement during jury selection," added Judge Alison J. Nathan, who questioned the juror at a federal courthouse in Manhattan on Tuesday. He'd been ordered to testify with a grant of immunity from prosecution.
He told Nathan that he was "shocked" and "embarrassed" to learn that he'd made an "inadvertent mistake" while rushing through the questionnaire, believing the question about past sexual abuse applied to family and friends, per the Independent. "If I lied deliberately, I wouldn't have told a soul. It was an honest mistake." He added, "I don’t really think about my sexual abuse, period. I don't tell many people." In fact, he said most people in his life weren't aware of the abuse until he spoke out. "I saw the victims on the stand and I said: 'I can do that, too,'" he said. Nathan said his testimony was inconsistent with his statements to the media, per the Independent. The two sides are to present arguments in response to the testimony in a week's time. (Read more Ghislaine Maxwell stories.)