Ghislaine Maxwell’s bid for a new trial has been denied. Maxwell, 60, had requested a new trial after Juror 50, known by his first names Scotty David, failed to disclose he had suffered sexual abuse as a child on a pre-trial questionnaire.
In a much-anticipated decision released on Friday afternoon, Judge Alison Nathan said the juror had not deliberately misled the court during the jury selection process.
“His failure to disclose his prior sexual abuse during the jury selection process was highly unfortunate, but not deliberate,” Judge Nathan concluded.
“The court further concludes that Juror 50 harboured no bias toward the defendant and could serve as a fair and impartial juror.”
In December, Maxwell was convicted of five sex-trafficking charges for recruiting and grooming young girls to be abused by her former boyfriend Jeffrey Epstein.
Days after the verdict, Scotty David broke his silence in an exclusive interview with The Independent where he revealed he had shared his experience of sexual abuse with other jury members during deliberations and helped convince them that Maxwell’s victims were telling the truth.
“This verdict is for all the victims,” he told The Independent. “For those who testified, for those who came forward and for those who haven’t come forward. I’m glad that Maxwell has been held accountable.”
He was ordered to testify at a hearing in March, where he told Judge Nathan he had made an “honest mistake”.
He denied he had deliberately misled the court by withholding his abuse, or that it had affected his deliberations in finding Maxwell guilty.
“This is one of the biggest mistakes I’ve ever made in my life and if I could go back and change everything and slow down and take my time, then I would in a heartbeat,” he said at the March hearing.
All potential jurors in the case had been asked to fill out a screening form during voir dire – part of the jury selection process – that asked: “Have you or a friend or family member ever been the victim of sexual harassment, sexual abuse, or sexual assault?”
Scotty David checked “No”, and later said in interviews he did not remember being asked that question.
Maxwell’s lawyers argued that the failure to disclose his history, which he later discussed in interviews, was grounds for the convictions to be dismissed and a retrial to be ordered.
However, in her ruling issued on Friday, Judge Nathan said: “Juror 50’s testimony established that his lack of diligence was limited to the questionnaire session.
“Juror 50 showed up for trial on time every day and appeared to the court that he was attentive throughout trial.
“There is no indication that Juror 50 failed to follow this court’s instructions during voir dire, trial, or deliberations.”
Judge Nathan added that Scotty David’s testimony during the March hearing, under penalty of perjury, showed he had been a fair juror.
“To imply or infer that Juror 50 was biased – simply because he was himself a victim of sexual abuse in a trial related to sexual abuse and sex trafficking, and despite his own credible testimony under the penalty of perjury, establishing that he could be an even-handed and impartial juror – would be tantamount to concluding that an individual with a history of sexual abuse can never serve as a fair and impartial juror in such a trial,” Judge Nathan said.
“That is not the law, nor should it be.”
Hours before the decision was released, Maxwell’s lawyers Bobbi Sternheim and Christian Everdell asked a judge to pause their motion for a mistrial until they could review a “bombshell revelation” contained in a new Paramount Plus documentary called Ghislaine: Partner in Crime.
In a trailer, Scotty David says: “Some jurors did have serious credibility issues with some of these victims. Just because some memories are fuzzy, doesn’t mean they’re not telling the truth.”
During a five week trial, four women testified they were sexually abused by Epstein and Maxwell at his homes in New York, Palm Beach and New Mexico.
Prosecutors said Maxwell would act as the trusting, sisterly older female figure and lure them into Epstein’s orbit.
Maxwell enabled Epstein in his abuse and also participated in it on some occasions, they said, calling the former couple “partners in crime” in a “pyramid scheme of abuse”.
Maxwell, who is due to be sentenced in June, faces up to 65 years in prison.
Epstein died in prison in August 2019 while awaiting trial for sex-trafficking offences. His death was ruled suicide by the medical examiner.