After Ghislaine Maxwell was found guilty of sex trafficking, a juror told media outlets he may have swayed the jury by sharing his experiences of sexual abuse during deliberations.
He said he helped persuade jurors who doubted decades-old memories of Maxwell’s accusers.
While it might have been grand to take credit for Maxwell’s conviction, it brings up issues of perjury and prejudice. And a new trial for Maxwell.
One of the jurors, Scotty David, [his first and middle name], 35, works as an executive assistant at Carlyle Group Inc. It appears Scotty may have lied on the jury questionnaire, sworn under penalty of perjury.
Question # 48 was: “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.).”
If answered affirmatively, Scotty had to indicate if it related to himself or a friend or family member.
“He did not fill in that form correctly,” a person familiar with the case told Fox News. “He was asked point-blank, and he said, that isn’t the case. Obviously, it is, from his own words.”
Because Scotty answered “No,” to question #48, he didn’t have to answer subsequent questions, including if he believed that being a victim of sexual assault would affect his “ability to serve fairly and impartially as a juror in this case.”
After answering the questionnaire, Scotty, like other jurors, was questioned by U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan and asked to provide details about his background. Scotty did not disclose his sexual abuse history.
Judge Nathan asked Scotty if he could be fair to both sides in the case. He said he could. The judge asked again: “Other than what I have asked you, do you have any reason to think that you can’t be fair and impartial here?”
“I do not,” Scotty responded.
Four women testified at Maxwell’s trial that they were abused as teenagers by Maxwell and her boyfriend Jeffrey Epstein between 1994 and 2004. Epstein died at the Metropolitan Correction Center )MCC) in New York in 2019 while awaiting trial.
Each side called a memory expert to testify. The defense’s memory expert said memories can be corroded over time by outside influences and general decay.
Maxwell’s defense lawyers argued that the women’s memories had been corrupted over the years and that they were motivated by money to implicate Maxwell.
The Jury Deliberates
During deliberations, the jury requested transcripts of the testimony by the defense’s memory expert.
Scotty David told The Independent and Reuters that, after some jurors expressed skepticism about the accounts of two of Maxwell’s accusers, Jane and Carolyn, he shared his experience of having been sexually abused as a child.
He said he remembered the most important elements of what happened to him, but not every single detail. That swayed some jurors, he said.
“When I shared that, they were able to sort of come around on, they were able to come around on the memory aspect of the sexual abuse,” Scotty told Reuters in a phone interview.
Maxwell was convicted on five of six counts related to a sex-trafficking scheme on December 29 after five days of deliberation. She faces up to 65 years in prison.
Scotty Prompts Prosecution
Scotty told Reuters that he “flew through” the jury selection process but didn’t remember being asked about past sexual abuse, though he would have answered honestly if asked.
“It doesn’t matter whether he did it deliberately or he didn’t do it deliberately,” a source told Fox News. “The fact is, he wouldn’t have been allowed to be a juror.”
After reading the interview, prosecutors asked Judge Nathan to investigate Scotty’s remarks.
“Assuming the accuracy of the reporting, the juror asserted that he ‘flew through’ the prospective juror questionnaire and does not recall being asked whether he had been a victim of sexual abuse, but stated that ‘he would have answered honestly’. Based on the foregoing, the government believes the court should conduct an inquiry,” the prosecutors wrote to Nathan.
Maxwell’s lawyers called for a retrial arguing that the Scotty revelations “present incontrovertible grounds for a new trial.”.
Making matters more problematic, a second juror told The New York Times they also shared a personal experience of sexual abuse that “appeared to help shape the jury’s discussions.”
Judge Alison Nathan asked prosecutors and defense to submit briefs on whether a new trial is needed because Maxwell did not have an impartial jury.
Scotty Lawyers Up
Scotty has retained a criminal attorney, Todd Spodek, who in the past represented “fake heiress” Anna Sorokin, a German woman convicted and sentenced to prison in 2019 for scamming New York hotels, banks and others while posing as a billionaire heiress; Genevieve Sabourin, who was convicted and sentenced to 210 days in prison for stalking and harassing actor Alec Baldwin in 2013; and Eddie Robinson, a former National Basketball Association player who was charged in October with defrauding the league’s health and welfare benefit plan.
What Will Happen?
Judge Nathan will ultimately rule on whether to overturn the verdict and grant Maxwell a new trial. Maxwell’s attorneys have asked the judge to rule on this before any of the other motions that are currently pending.
‘Should the defense win this motion – and we believe the law and facts clearly favor us – it will render all other post-trial motions moot,’ they write.
Neama Rahmani, president of West Coast Trial Lawyers and a former federal prosecutor told the Insider, that the jurors’ comments posed issues of perjury and prejudice — lying under oath and having a preconceived opinion that may have improperly swayed the jury.
“This entire conviction may get tossed, and we may have to retry the case,” said Rahmani.
By omitting the information, the juror deprived the defense of the opportunity to probe whether the juror could be fair and impartial.