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Ghislaine Maxwell’s attorneys have requested a new trial arguing that a man who failed to disclose his own past with sexual abuse should have never been on the jury that convicted the 60-year-old in December.
Maxwell’s attorneys filed the request Tuesday after the juror, identified by his first and middle names of Scotty David, was questioned last week by Judge Alison Nathan about why he had failed to disclose his past during jury selection.
“The court has now heard from Juror 50 in his own words. If there is one thing we learned from Juror 50 at the hearing, it is this: he should never have been a member of this jury,” Maxwell’s lawyers wrote in the filing obtained by The Guardian.
They described David’s answers in court last week to questions posed by the judge as “inconsistent, implausible, and contradictory, and at all times lacked credibility.”
“Juror 50’s explanation that he ‘flew through’ the questionnaire does not hold water, and his repeated after-the-fact assurances that the sexual abuse he suffered as a child did not affect his ability to be a fair and impartial juror were self-serving and simply not believable,” they argued, adding that they believed David just didn’t want to be responsible for causing a re-trial.
David reportedly told the court that he had been in a hurry when he filled out the questionnaire and had not fully read through the questions, comparing the experience to not wanting to be the last one finished with a test in school, according to court documents, also obtained by Newsweek.
“You want to finish your test and go hang out with your friends. So, it’s kind of that same policy … everyone else is finishing … I’m like ‘I’m never going to get chosen, let’s get this done with.’ I completely skimmed way too fast,” he said.
David insisted he never deliberately withheld the information and called the omission an “honest mistake.”
Under questioning by the judge, David said he had been repeatedly sexually abused by a stepbrother and his friend when he was around 9 and 10 years old, according to The New York Post.
Maxwell’s attorneys have argued that if he would have divulged the information up front, he never would have been on the jury.
“The abuse Juror 50 described at the Hearing … was remarkably similar to the abuse described by the government’s four key victim witnesses and would, by itself, have formed the basis for a challenge for cause,” they wrote in the court filing.
Maxwell was convicted of sex trafficking in December after prosecutors said she recruited and groomed underage girls for her former love interest, Jeffrey Epstein to sexually abuse. Epstein, who had been facing his own set of federal sex trafficking charges, killed himself in a Manhattan jail cell in 2019.
David’s past came to light after he spoke with several news outlets after Maxwell’s trial, describing how he had shared his own sexual abuse experience with other jurors during deliberations.
While defense attorneys have argued that his failure to disclose the information is grounds for a new trial, prosecutors contend that David did not purposefully withhold the information.
“After the thoughtful and thorough hearing held by this court, it is crystal clear that the defendant received a fair trial,” they wrote in a filing obtained by The Guardian. “Juror 50’s sworn testimony at the hearing made evident that he did not deliberately lie in completing the questionnaire, but that he instead made an honest mistake.”
They argued that even if he had admitted to being a victim of sexual abuse in the past on the questionnaire, it wouldn’t have excluded him from the jury.
“Juror 50’s sworn responses made clear that he was a fair and impartial juror who did not harbor any bias and who would not have been excused for cause,” prosecutors wrote in the filing also obtained by The Post.
They added that Maxwell “is not entitled to the extraordinary relief she seeks” because the defense cannot establish that David was biased while serving as a juror in the high-profile case.
Of the 58 qualified people who filled out the questionnaire, eight admitted being past victims of sexual harassment or abuse. Those individuals were later questioned about their past during a process known as voir dire; however, according to prosecutors each told the court they could be impartial.
“Not only did the Court not strike each of those eight jurors for cause, but neither party even moved to do so on these grounds,” prosecutors wrote in the filing.
Nathan has yet to rule on the matter.
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