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A federal judge has issued a ruling in a case involving a request by convicted sex trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell after a hearing involving a controversial juror.
U.S. District Judge Alison J. Nathan has upheld Maxwell’s conviction even after juror Scotty David was found to have misrepresented himself during pre-trial jury selection.
David’s failure to disclose to the court the fact that he was sexually abused as a child was “highly unfortunate,” Nathan ruled, but it was clear not “deliberate,” the BBC reported.
“His failure to disclose his prior sexual abuse during the jury selection process was highly unfortunate, but not deliberate. The court further concludes that juror 50 harbored no bias toward the defendant and could serve as a fair and impartial juror,” the judge said, according to the report.
— Adam Klasfeld (@KlasfeldReports) April 1, 2022
In recent weeks, David admitted under oath that when filling out his jury screening questionnaire, he “flew through” it because he said he was “super-distracted” by events taking place around him. According to The Associated Press, he said, “I didn’t lie in order to get on this jury.”
David’s questionnaire answer became an issue after Maxwell’s attorneys noticed that his answer didn’t jibe with his public rhetoric.
In an early January interview with several British news outlets, David “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,” as noted by the AP.
“I know what happened when I was sexually abused. I remember the color of the carpet, the walls. Some of it can be replayed like a video. But I can’t remember all the details, there are some things that run together,” he said in the interview, providing a description of what he told the jury.
In addition, he said that he had also “convinced other jurors that a victim’s imperfect memory of sex abuse doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.”
After Maxwell’s attorneys found out about the interview, they submitted a letter to Judge Nathan asserting that “based on undisputed, public information, the Court can and should order a new trial without any evidenciary hearing.”
One attorney, Christian Everdell, said there were “incontrovertible grounds” for Maxwell to get a new trial.
Everdell described the matter as “an issue of pressing importance,” saying disclosures by the juror “influenced the deliberations and convinced other members of the jury to convict Ms. Maxwell.”
“Excusing Juror 50’s false answers because he believes his concealed history of sexual abuse did not affect his ability to serve as a fair and impartial juror does not satisfy the appearance of justice. Only a new trial would,” the attorneys argued.
“Nathan’s decision on whether a new trial is warranted could hinge on how the juror responded to questions during jury selection about his experiences with sexual abuse, which legal experts said was a key question that defense lawyers were looking at to weed out potentially biased jurors,” Reuters reported at the time in early January.
“The juror, who asked to be identified by his first and middle names, Scotty David, told Reuters on Tuesday evening that during deliberations after some jurors expressed skepticism about the accounts of two of Maxwell’s accusers, he shared his experience of having been sexually abused as a child,” Reuters added.
“When I shared that, they were able to sort of come around on, they were able to come around on the memory aspect of the sexual abuse,” David noted.
“Later…The New York Times reported that a second juror described having been sexually abused as a child during deliberations. That juror, who requested anonymity to speak to the Times, said this revelation appeared to help shape the jury’s discussion,” Reuters added.