Ghislaine Maxwell judge questions juror about answers on jury questionnaire
The juror incorrectly said on the form that he had never been abused.
A juror who helped convict Jeffrey Epstein associate Ghislaine Maxwell of sex trafficking in December after failing to disclose childhood sexual abuse on his juror questionnaire testified in Manhattan federal court Tuesday that he had rushed through the form and never thought he'd be seated on the jury.
Juror 50, a 35-year-old Manhattan resident, called the incident "one of the biggest mistakes of my life" -- yet also told the judge Tuesday that his prior abuse in no way impacted his judgment of the evidence in the case.
"If I lied deliberately, I wouldn't have told a soul," he said of several post-trial media interviews in which he revealed his alleged personal experience as a victim of childhood sexual abuse.
The juror was questioned on Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan, who last week ordered him to appear in federal court for an inquiry into his post-trial interviews and his responses during jury screening. The judge also denied Maxwell's motion for a new trial based on the current record, pending the outcome of Tuesday's hearing.
Maxwell was present for Tuesday's hearing, along with her sister, Isabel.
The court unsealed Juror 50's written responses to the jury questionnaire, showing that the juror answered "no" to a question asking if he had ever been a victim of sexual harassment, assault or abuse.
After Juror 50's lawyer said in a letter last week that his client intended to invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination at the hearing, the government on Monday night filed an application for an immunity order to compel the juror to testify with granted immunity. At the hearing, Judge Nathan explained that the juror would be granted immunity with the exclusion of any untruthful statements under oath, which would constitute perjury.
"In other words, you need to answer my questions today, and you need to answer them truthfully," Nathan told Juror 50, who replied, "Yes, your honor."
Regarding the question on the jury form asking if he, a friend, or family member had ever been a victim of an unwanted advance or sexual harassment, assault or abuse, Juror 50 said that he had lost focus while completing the long questionnaire, on which the abuse question appeared far down the list. He said that "no" was not the accurate answer, and that he should have "answered yes for self."
"I would have put I was abused as a child," he said when asked how he'd reply to a follow-up inquiry on the questionnaire had he answered accurately. He said that he was abused multiple times by "a family member who is no longer part of the family, and one of his friends, when I was 9 and 10 years old." He said the person was his former stepbrother, and that he did not disclose the abuse to anyone until he told his mother in high school.
Asked why he did not answer "yes" to a question about whether he'd ever been a victim of a crime, Juror 50 said "I wasn't thinking of my abuse," but rather that he had never been a victim of robbery. He said several times during the hearing, "I don't think about my abuse. It doesn't define me," and that viewing his abuse that way was part of his healing process.
The juror also told Nathan that he had not realized he had made mistakes on his jury questionnaire form until it was brought to his attention in an interview with the Daily Mail -- one of several media interviews he gave following Maxwell's conviction in December. In interviews with Reuters, The Daily Mail and The Independent, the juror -- who was identified in the reports using his first and middle names, Scotty David -- said that during a critical stage of jury deliberations, he shared his experiences of being sexually abused as a child, which he claimed helped convince some skeptical jurors that key prosecution witnesses could be believed.
"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," he said in an interview with the Independent. "But I can't remember all the details, there are some things that run together."
After the Daily Mail brought it to his attention that he had made mistakes on his jury questionnaire, he recalled thinking to himself, "Did I just mess something up entirely?" He also claimed to be "shocked" to later learn he had skimmed over the question asking if he himself was a victim of sexual abuse.
Judge Nathan ordered the prosecution and defense to file written briefings on the juror's testimony by March 15.
Following Tuesday's hearing, an attorney for Juror 50 said "no comment" when asked for a response by ABC News.
Maxwell, 60, was convicted in December on five felony counts, including sex trafficking and conspiracy to entice minors to travel for illegal sexual activity between 1994 and 2004. Prosecutors portrayed Maxwell and Epstein, the millionaire financier who died by suicide in 2019 while awaiting trial on child sex-trafficking charges, as "partners in crime who sexually exploited young girls together."
Maxwell's lawyers, who structured her defense largely on challenges to the reliability of her accusers' memories, contend that if Juror 50 had disclosed his history of child sexual abuse during jury screening, he almost certainly would have been removed from consideration.
Maxwell has been detained at New York's Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn since her arrest in July 2020. She is currently scheduled to be sentenced on June 28.
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