Ghislaine Maxwell on Friday lost her bid to overturn her U.S. sex trafficking conviction, even after a juror acknowledged having falsely stated before the trial that he had not been sexually abused. U.S. Circuit Judge Alison Nathan said the juror, a man known in court papers as Juror 50, testified truthfully at a hearing last month, after Maxwell’s lawyers said his false answers on a pretrial questionnaire justified granting a new trial.
“His failure to disclose his prior sexual abuse during the jury selection process was highly unfortunate, but not deliberate,” Nathan continued to write in the letter. “The court further concludes that Juror 50 harbored no bias toward the defendant and could serve as a fair and impartial juror.”
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“Juror 50 does not consider himself a victim and does not let his past define him,” In a release, the juror’s lawyer, Todd Spodek, stated. “He listened to the evidence and was fair and impartial. This is what justice requires, not more.”
Maxwell’s lawyers did not reply to demands for comment right away. In December, Maxwell, 60, was found guilty of assisting late millionaire and convicted sex criminal Jeffrey Epstein in sexually abusing adolescent females.
She had pled not guilty, claiming that because Epstein was no longer living, she was being blamed for his misdeeds. The date of her sentence has been set for June 28. While awaiting trial on sex trafficking allegations, Epstein committed suicide in a Manhattan prison cell in 2019.
Maxwell’s trial marked a reckoning that Epstein, a globetrotting investor with a social circle that included top politicians and business executives, had never experienced.
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It was also one of the most high-profile instances in the aftermath of the #MeToo movement, which encouraged women to come up about sexual assault by prominent men and celebrities.
After being found guilty on five of the six counts against her, Maxwell faces up to 65 years in jail. Her attorneys have promised to challenge the decision.
Juror 50 had answered “no” when asked if he had been a victim of sexual abuse in a pre-trial screening form. However, following the trial, he stated in media appearances that he had addressed being sexually molested as a youngster during jury deliberations, and that he did not recall being questioned about it on the questionnaire.
Juror 50, who went by the names Scotty David for his first and middle names, said he did so to show how Maxwell’s accusers’ recollections might not have been flawless.
He said he raced through the application, made a mistake in indicating he had not been a sexual assault victim, and did not intentionally lie to be on the panel during a March 8 hearing.
Maxwell’s lawyers claimed that if the juror had replied honestly, he would have been removed from the panel, and that his fraudulent statement denied Maxwell her right to a fair trial. Nathan, on the other hand, claimed she had once presided over a murder trial in which a juror with a family member who had been slain was permitted to serve on the panel.
Although the judge was promoted to the federal appeals court in Manhattan last week, he still retains authority over Maxwell’s case. Four women testified during Robert Maxwell’s trial in November and December that the daughter of the British media baron recruited and groomed them as teens to be assaulted by Epstein between 1994 and 2004.
Maxwell’s lawyers attempted to discredit her accusers by arguing that they were motivated by money to incriminate her and that their recollections were faulty. Maxwell’s attorneys had asked Judge Nathan to postpone her judgment on their request for a new trial until after the Paramount+ streaming service aired a documentary on Maxwell, in which Juror 50 was interviewed.
According to experts, the threshold for reversing a decision based on juror misbehavior is “very high” and “occurs only in exceptional instances.” “In the few cases where a jury judgment has been reversed due to juror misconduct, the misbehavior has entailed bribery or other forms of outside influence of that juror,” said David Weinstein, a former federal prosecutor.
A recent example is Joaqun ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán’s high-profile trial. Following his conviction, a juror told the media that several members of the panel had disobeyed the court’s orders and were watching television coverage of the trial while it was going on. The defense team for the Mexican drug lord argued that his conviction should be overturned because of the jurors’ misbehavior, but a federal appeals court upheld it.