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Wednesday 6 December 2023 Dublin: 8°C
Ghislaine Maxwell

Ghislaine Maxwell juror to be questioned under oath by judge next month

Maxwell remains incarcerated after she was convicted of trafficking teenage girls for sex after a three-week trial in New York.

A US JUDGE has said she will question a juror under oath during a rare post-verdict evidentiary hearing about the answers he gave during jury selection for the criminal trial of Ghislaine Maxwell after he told news outlets that he did not recall being asked about prior sexual abuse.

US District Judge Alison J Nathan said in a written order that she will question the juror on 8 March at a public court hearing.

She also said she had rejected a request by Maxwell’s lawyers that she order a new trial without gathering more information.

Maxwell, 60, remains incarcerated after she was convicted of sex trafficking, among other charges, during a December trial in which she was portrayed as the chief recruiter of teenage girls for financier Jeffrey Epstein to sexually abuse.

Prosecutors said she also sometimes joined in the abuse.

In interviews with news outlets, the juror described a moment during the deliberations when he told fellow jurors that, like some of the victims of Epstein, he had been sexually abused as a child.

And he said he convinced other jurors that a victim’s imperfect memory of sex abuse does not mean it did not happen.

Judge Nathan said it was not easy for parties to obtain the kind of hearing she will conduct regarding the juror’s conduct.

But she said she had concluded, and prosecutors had conceded, that the high standard required to stage a post-verdict evidentiary hearing was met “as to whether Juror 50 failed to respond truthfully during the jury selection process to whether he was a victim of sexual abuse”.

Judge Nathan said he had “made several direct, unambiguous statements to multiple media outlets about his own experience that do not pertain to jury deliberations and that cast doubt on the accuracy of his responses during jury selection”.

She added: “To be clear, the potential impropriety is not that someone with a history of sexual abuse may have served on the jury. Rather, it is the potential failure to respond truthfully to questions during the jury selection process that asked for that material information so that any potential bias could be explored.”

Potential jurors in Maxwell’s case were asked to fill out a questionnaire asking: “Have you or a friend or family member ever been the victim of sexual harassment, sexual abuse, or sexual assault?”

Judge Nathan said in her order that the juror’s questionnaire will be unsealed.

Meanwhile, a 10 January submission to the judge from a lawyer for the juror was unsealed today.

In the letter, lawyer Todd Spodek asked the judge to release to lawyers the written juror questionnaire that his client had filled out as the trial began.

Spodek said the juror does not recall answering questions during jury selection about his prior experience with sexual assault.

He said the juror, identified only as Juror 50, wanted to protect his privacy rights and his right to avoid self-incrimination.

Maxwell has been behind bars since her July 2020 arrest.

Epstein, 66, was arrested a year earlier on sex trafficking charges, but he took his own life in a Manhattan federal prison in August 2019.