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This courtroom sketch shows Judge Alison Nathan reading the guilty verdict against Ghislaine Maxwell in her sex trafficking trial. Picture / AP
A juror told a judge that failing to disclose his child abuse history during jury selection at the trial of British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell was one of the biggest mistakes of his life — but an unintentional one.
“I didn’t lie to get on this jury,” the juror said yesterday.
A US judge questioned the juror extensively as part of an effort to decide whether the revelation about his personal history as a sex abuse survivor will spoil the verdict in the sex trafficking trial.
Maxwell was convicted in late December of helping financier Jeffrey Epstein sexually abuse multiple teenage girls from 1994 to 2004.
Sitting in a courtroom witness box, the juror repeatedly expressed regret as US District Judge Alison J. Nathan asked him why he didn’t reveal the abuse on a questionnaire during the jury selection process.
The juror said he didn’t mention it because he “skimmed way too fast” through the questionnaire.
“This is one of the biggest mistakes I’ve ever made in my life,” the man identified only as Juror No. 50 said as he looked directly at the judge.
Lawyers for Maxwell — who was present in the courtroom, clad in a dark blue jail smock — say the verdict should be thrown out. Maxwell’s lawyers could have objected to the man’s presence on the jury on the grounds that he might not be fair to a person accused of a similar crime.
The juror told the judge Tuesday he had been repeatedly sexually abused at age 9 and 10 by two people.
The judge gave lawyers in the case until March 15 to submit legal briefs on whether the verdict should be set aside. Maxwell’s sentencing is scheduled for June.
The juror did several media interviews after the trial in which he revealed he’d been abused. He described persuading some fellow jurors during deliberations that a victim’s imperfect memory of abuse doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.
All potential jurors in the case had been asked to fill out a screening form in early November that asked: “Have you or a friend or family member ever been the victim of sexual harassment, sexual abuse, or sexual assault? (This includes actual or attempted sexual assault or other unwanted sexual advance, including by a stranger, acquaintance, supervisor, teacher, or family member.)”
The juror checked “No”. The juror said in the interviews he flew through the questionnaire and didn’t remember being asked that question, which was No. 48 on the form.
The judge granted the juror immunity before he answered questions for over a half hour. He said he would invoke his Fifth Amendment privilege without it.
Maxwell’s lawyers in January asked the judge to immediately order a new trial after the juror’s public statements, but Nathan said she could not do so without questioning the juror.
The juror also checked “No” to the question: “Have you, or any of your relatives or close friends, ever been a victim of a crime?”
Maxwell, 60, was convicted of sex trafficking and other charges after a month-long trial that featured testimony from four women who said she played a role in setting them up for abuse by Epstein.
Epstein killed himself in August 2019 as he awaited trial at a federal jail in New York on related sex trafficking charges.
Maxwell says she’s innocent.