British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, the longtime partner and accomplice of the late convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, was recently convicted herself on federal charges related to her role in facilitating Epstein’s escapades.
Now, however, the conviction appears to be in jeopardy, as Maxwell’s attorneys have demanded a new trial after it was revealed that one of the jurors is a victim of sexual abuse — and they apparently shared their experience with fellow jurors during deliberations, Fox News reported.
According to filings from Maxwell’s attorneys, the juror’s status as a victim — which was reportedly not disclosed ahead of the trial — as well as their choice to share their story with their fellow jurors may have improperly influenced the deliberations and swayed their votes to convict, potentially providing grounds for a mistrial.
Meanwhile, federal prosecutors submitted their own filings calling for a formal court inquiry into the juror and the pre-trial questionnaire they filled out, which specifically asked if they or anyone close to them had been the victim of sex crimes.
According to Insider, the 35-year-old juror, identified in reports by his first and middle names as Scotty David, told the U.K.’s Independent that he shared his status as a sex abuse victim with the other jurors during deliberations in order to help clear up some confusion about witness testimony.
The defense attorneys poked holes in the testimonies of four of Epstein’s victims by focusing on flawed portions of their memories, even citing a memory expert to do so, in hopes of tarnishing the witnesses’ credibility.
But the juror, drawing from his own experience with flawed memories, claims he managed to convince others on the jury to overlook the discrepancies and vote to convict Maxwell.
As for the pretrial questionnaire the juror filled out, Fox News reports that the juror initially asserted he “flew through” the document and didn’t notice any questions about being the victim of sex crimes. According to the Daily Mail, the juror said he would have “honestly” answered the question if he saw it.
However, the Daily Mail cited an unnamed source with alleged “knowledge of the case” who said the juror checked “No” on the box of question 48 out of 50, which specifically asked whether he or a loved one had ever been the victim of sexual crimes like abuse, assault, or harassment.
On top of that, it has since been revealed that a second juror, who has remained unnamed, also revealed their status as a sex abuse victim during the deliberations, apparently joining the first juror in helping to convince the others to vote in favor of convicting Maxwell.
New York City’s NBC affiliate reports that Judge Alison Nathan hasn’t decided whether she will order an inquiry into the matter, but did set a date of Jan. 19 for both sides to submit any additional filings. A final deadline of Feb. 9 was set for all other matters related to the trial.
Of course, these disclosures won’t automatically guarantee that a new trial will be ordered — but it certainly sets the stage for Maxwell’s attorneys to argue for such on appeal of her conviction on five of six charges related to sex trafficking.