Ghislaine Maxwell juror to be questioned under oath by judge

Larry Neumeister
Associated Press

New York — A judge said Thursday that she'll 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 didn’t recall being asked about prior sexual abuse.

U.S. District Judge Alison J. Nathan said in a written order that she’ll question the juror March 8 at a public court hearing.

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

In this courtroom sketch, Judge Alison Nathan presides over the Ghislaine Maxwell hearing in New York.

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 doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

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.”

She 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?”

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

Meanwhile, a Jan. 10 submission to the judge from a lawyer for the juror was unsealed Thursday.

In the letter, attorney Todd Spodek asked the judge to release to attorneys 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.

Spodek 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 life in a Manhattan federal lockup in August 2019.