NEW YORK (AP) — A juror told a judge Tuesday 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, as a judge and lawyers try to decide whether the revelations will spoil Maxwell’s sex trafficking conviction.
The juror, sitting in a courtroom witness box, repeatedly expressed regret as U.S. District Judge Alison J. Nathan asked him dozens of questions about why he failed to disclose that he was sexually abused.
A written questionnaire he filed out had asked about that directly.
He said he failed to disclose that he was repeatedly sexually abused at age 9 and 10 by two people because he “skimmed way too fast” through the questionnaire.
“This is one of the biggest mistakes I’ve ever made in my life,” the juror identified only as Juror No. 50 said as he looked directly at the judge.
Lawyers for Maxwell say the verdict should be thrown out over the juror’s failure to disclose before the trial began that he’d been a victim of childhood sexual abuse. Maxwell was convicted in late December of sex trafficking and other charges alleging she helped financier Jeffrey Epstein sexually abuse teenage girls from 1994 to 2004.
Maxwell’s lawyers potentially 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.
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 she said she could not do so without questioning the juror.
The juror also checked “No” on a question which asked: “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.