Ghislaine Maxwell requested a new trial after a juror who convicted her told media that he discussed his own experience with sexual abuse during deliberations.
Potential jurors had been asked on questionnaires whether they were victims of sexual abuse.
Prosecutors also asked the court on Wednesday to open an investigation into the juror’s remarks.
Ghislaine Maxwell, the longtime Jeffrey Epstein associate convicted of sex trafficking and conspiracy last month, has requested a new trial after a juror told multiple media outlets that his own personal experience with sexual abuse helped convince his fellow jurors to convict.
The New York Times also reported on Wednesday that a second juror, who spoke to the newspaper on condition of anonymity, discussed their child sexual abuse experience during deliberations and “appeared to help shape the jury’s discussions.” It’s unclear if prosecutors or defense attorneys were aware of this second juror’s remarks.
The first juror, Scott David, who identified himself only by his first and middle names, told The Independent and Reuters that during deliberations, several of his fellow jurors expressed doubts about the memories that some of Maxwell’s accusers described.
David said he told his fellow jurors that he had been sexually abused and had similar experiences to those witnesses, saying that some of his memories were clear while others were hazy.
“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,” David told The Independent. “But I can’t remember all the details, there are some things that run together.”
David also told Reuters that his remarks helped some of the jurors “come around on the memory aspect of the sexual abuse.” Ultimately, the jurors deliberated for an agonizing five days before convicting Maxwell on five of the six counts against her.
David also said he “flew through” the questionnaire he had been given before he was selected as a juror, and didn’t recall being asked whether he, or anyone he knew, was a victim of sexual abuse. He added that he would have answered honestly if he was asked.
Court documents show that prospective jurors for the Maxwell trial were indeed asked on the questionnaire if they were victims of sexual abuse.
Prosecutors on Wednesday filed a letter requesting that the court open an inquiry based on David’s remarks to the media and suggested that the judge schedule a hearing in one month.
Maxwell’s attorneys filed two letters shortly afterward demanding a new trial, and suggesting that all jurors be examined for their conduct.
“The government’s request for a hearing is premature because based on undisputed, publicly available information, the Court can and should order a new trial without any evidentiary hearing,” the defense attorneys wrote.
US District Judge Alison Nathan responded Wednesday setting a schedule for Maxwell’s lawyers to move for a new trial “in light of the issues raised.” The defense attorneys will have to file a motion by January 19, and prosecutors must file a response by February 2.
Nathan also granted prosecutors’ request to offer a court-appointed lawyer to David.
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