Ghislaine Maxwell to seek new trial after juror’s sexual abuse revelations
- A juror told UK media he was abused as a child and that he convinced other jurors that a victim’s imperfect memory of the assault doesn’t mean it didn’t happen
- Potential jurors were asked if they were victims of sexual assault, but the juror says he ‘flew through’ the questionnaire and does not recall this
Ghislaine Maxwell, convicted last week of conspiring to recruit and groom teenage girls to be abused by Jeffrey Epstein, intends to request a new trial after revelations by one of the jurors in her case that he was a victim of sexual abuse, her lawyers said on Wednesday.
Two defence lawyers – Jeffrey Pagliuca and Laura Menninger – said in a letter to US District Judge Alison J. Nathan that “based on undisputed, publicly available information, the court can and should order a new trial without any evidentiary hearing”.
“Ms Maxwell intends to request a new trial,” they wrote.
“Any submission will include all known undisputed remarks of the juror, including recorded statements, the relevant questionnaire, and other noncontroverted facts. It is clear to Ms Maxwell that based on this record alone a new trial is required.”
They added that if a hearing is required, it should happen soon and that all jurors who deliberated “need to be examined, not to impeach the verdict, but to evaluate the juror’s conduct”.
Lawyer Christian Everdell said in his own letter to Nathan that the judge should suspend all other post-trial motions in the case while learning more about the juror’s actions because the revelation “presents incontrovertible grounds for a new trial”.
“Should the defence prevail on this motion – and we believe the law and facts are clearly on our side – it would render all other post-trial motions moot,” he wrote.
He said Maxwell “should not have to expend precious time and resources briefing other motions when this motion can and should be dispositive”.
In interviews published on Tuesday and Wednesday by The Independent and the Daily Mail, one juror described a moment during the deliberations when he told fellow jurors in Maxwell’s trial that, like some of the victims of the late financier Epstein, he had been sexually abused as a child.
And he said he convinced other jurors that a victim’s imperfect memory of sex abuse does not mean it did not happen.
“I know what happened when I was sexually abused. I remember the colour of the carpet, the walls. Some of it can be replayed like a video,” he said he told the jury, according to The Independent.
“But I can’t remember all the details, there are some things that run together.”
In their own letter to Nathan, even prosecutors said those reports “merit attention by the court”. The juror was identified only by his first and middle name in the articles.
Prosecutors suggested in their letter that Nathan schedule a hearing in about one month, along with a schedule for lawyers to file briefs regarding the applicable law and the scope of the hearing.
“The government respectfully submits that any juror investigation should be conducted exclusively under the supervision of the court,” prosecutors wrote.
If the judge decides to conduct a hearing, her staff should “promptly contact the juror to notify him” and inquire whether he would like a lawyer to be appointed in connection with it, prosecutors said.
Potential jurors in Maxwell’s case were asked to fill out a questionnaire asking: “Have you or a friend or family member ever been the victim of sexual harassment, sexual abuse, or sexual assault?”
Quoting from the press reports, prosecutors said the juror asserted that he “flew through” the questionnaire and did not recall being asked if he had been a victim of sex abuse.
Defence lawyers did not respond to requests for comment. Prosecutors said in their letter that they had reached out to defence counsel on Tuesday night but they had not yet responded.
Epstein killed himself in jail in 2019 as he awaited a sex trafficking trial.
No sentencing date has been set after the conviction of Maxwell, 60, and she is still facing trial on perjury charges.