US judge denies Ghislaine Maxwell attempt for new trial over juror

Juror acknowledged he failed to disclose he was sexually abused as a child

Jeffrey Epstein associate Ghislaine Maxwell hugs her attorney as they enter the courtroom for the questioning of juror number 50 by Judge Alison Nathan in a courtroom sketch in New York City, on March 8, 2022. Reuters
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A US judge on Friday upheld Ghislaine Maxwell's sex trafficking conviction, despite a juror's acknowledgment that he had falsely stated before the trial he had not been sexually abused.

In her decision, US Circuit Judge Alison Nathan said the juror, referred to as Juror 50 in court papers, testified truthfully at a hearing last month over Maxwell's request for a new trial.

Prosecutors contended that Maxwell could not show the juror was biased, after he said during jury selection he would be fair and impartial and decide the case based on the evidence.

"His failure to disclose his prior sexual abuse during the jury selection process was highly unfortunate, but not deliberate," Ms Nathan wrote. "The Court further concludes that Juror 50 harboured no bias toward the defendant and could serve as a fair and impartial juror."

Maxwell had been convicted in December of helping the late financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein sexually abuse teenage girls.

The British socialite requested a new trial in January after one of her 12 jurors said in media interviews he had been sexually abused as a child.

Asked in a pretrial screening questionnaire whether he had been a victim of sexual abuse, the juror checked "no".

Maxwell's lawyers would have struck the juror from the panel if he had answered honestly, and said his false statement denied Maxwell her right to a fair trial.

At a March 8 hearing, the juror testified that he answered the question incorrectly because he was “super distracted” at the time. But he denied lying deliberately to try to get on the jury and said that, despite his past abuse, he wasn’t biased against Maxwell during the trial.

“He appeared to testify frankly and honestly, even when the answers he gave were the cause of personal embarrassment and regret,” the judge said. “The Court thus credits his testimony that he was distracted as he filled out the questionnaire and skimmed way too fast, leading him to misunderstand some of the questions.”

Maxwell's lawyers have vowed to appeal the guilty verdict.

Agencies contributed to this report

Updated: April 01, 2022, 10:21 PM
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