By Luc Cohen
NEWYORK – Ghislaine Maxwell’s lawyers are expected on Wednesday to formally request that the British socialite’s sex abuse conviction be overturned, due to a juror’s possible failure to disclose before the trial that he was sexually abused as a child.
Maxwell, 60, was convicted on Dec. 29, 2021, on five counts of sex trafficking and other crimes for recruiting and grooming teenage girls to have sexual encounters with the late financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. Maxwell faces up to 65 years in prison.
But her lawyers said earlier this month there were “incontrovertible grounds” for a new trial after the juror, who asked to be identified by his first and middle names, Scotty David, told Reuters and other news media outlets that he described being abused as a child during jury deliberations.
That raised concerns that he did not disclose his abuse during pretrial screening. Prospective jurors were asked in a questionnaire whether they had ever been a victim of sexual abuse. Scotty David told Reuters he did not remember the question, but that he would have answered honestly.
Prosecutors, who have requested that U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan conduct an inquiry into the juror’s statements, will have until Feb. 2 to respond to Maxwell’s motion.
Legal experts told Reuters that Maxwell would not be guaranteed a new trial even if the juror did not disclose his abuse on the questionnaire, noting that cases of juror dishonesty that led to verdicts being overturned generally involved jurors who deliberately lied in order to be selected.
Nathan last week scheduled Maxwell’s sentencing hearing for June 28.
Epstein killed himself in 2019 at the age of 66 in a Manhattan jail cell while awaiting trial on sex abuse charges.