A federal judge rejected Ghislaine Maxwell’s request for a new trial, crediting a juror’s testimony that he made an innocent mistake on his sworn questionnaire when he denied being a victim of sexual abuse.
“For the reasons stated above, the Court concludes that Juror 50 testified credibly and truthfully at the post-trial hearing. His failure to disclose his prior sexual abuse during the jury selection process was highly unfortunate, but not deliberate,” U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan wrote on Friday. “The Court further concludes that Juror 50 harbored no bias toward the Defendant and could serve as a fair and impartial juror.”
On Dec. 29, 2021, Maxwell was convicted of five out of six charges leveled against her, including a sex trafficking count carrying a maximum sentence of 40 years imprisonment. The other four counts of conviction carry a possible 25 years combined. The Jeffrey Epstein accomplice turned 60 years old on Christmas Day.
Post-trial interviews by “Juror 50,” who went by the name Scotty David, threw that verdict into turmoil. Speaking to The Independent, the Daily Mail, and Reuters, David said that he drew from his own experiences as a childhood sexual abuse survivor in the deliberations room. Maxwell’s defense attorneys attacked the memories of the victims, and David told reporters that he shared his own experiences with traumatic memory with fellow jurors.
“This verdict is for all the victims,” David told The Independent. “For those who testified, for those who came forward and for those who haven’t come forward. I’m glad that Maxwell has been held accountable.”
Asked about his jury questionnaire, David told reporters that he did not recall a question about his history of sexual abuse, but he added that he would have answered all questions honestly. Prosecutors and defense attorneys soon noticed that he checked a box marked “No” next to a question about whether he, a friend, or a family member were ever victims of sexual abuse or harassment.
During an inquiry into the matter on March 8, David insisted that he had made an “inadvertent mistake.”
“I would have put, ‘I was abused as a child,’” Scotty David testified, adding that his stepbrother abused him starting at the age of nine.
Judge Nathan noted that David’s status as a survivor alone was not disqualifying.
“This Court has presided over a murder trial in which a juror who had a family member murdered was not struck for cause,” she wrote. “So too victims of fraud serve faithfully in fraud trials and individuals who have been discriminated against serve fairly in discrimination cases. And survivors of rape have and can serve impartially in trials charging the crime of rape. In this case, Juror 50’s responses at the hearing to the questions regarding his ability to be a fair and impartial juror, even in light of his past experience of sexual abuse, established that he too could serve fairly and impartially.”
The notation had far-reaching consequences. David retained prominent defense attorney Todd Spodek, who previously represented “fake heiress” Anna Sorokin. Spodek informed the court that his client—then accused of lying in a sworn document—would invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination during the court’s inquiry. The Department of Justice granted David immunity for his testimony, meaning that he could not be prosecuted for any truthful answer at that hearing.
And Judge Nathan found that David indeed told the truth.
Hours before her ruling, Maxwell’s lawyers tried to call it into question yet again, alerting the court that David had a new, soon-to-be-aired media appearance. Paramount Plus teased an “in-depth” and “bombshell” interview with the jury who had thrown the verdict into turmoil. Maxwell’s attorney Bobbi Sternheim urged Nathan to wait to see the segment before she ruled.
The opinion, totaling 40 pages, begins with an ode to the U.S. jury system.
“Central to our system of justice is a defendant’s right to have guilt adjudged by a lay jury of one’s peers. Citizens give their time and attention to this critical role in the administration of justice, a role which is enshrined in our Constitution. Judicial officers are charged with the implementation of this constitutional right. In all cases, whether of high profile or low, trial courts must ensure that only jurors who can fairly and impartially assess the evidence are seated on the jury. And once seated, the jury must be permitted to deliberate fully and frankly in an effort to reach a unanimous verdict. Trials entail significant investments of public and private resources.”
“For all of these reasons,” Nathan added, “a verdict may be set aside only in the most extraordinary of circumstances.”
This is a developing story.
Read the ruling, below:
(Photo via Justice Department)
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