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(NEW YORK) — The judge overseeing the case of Jeffrey Epstein associate Ghislaine Maxwell, who was convicted last month on charges of sex trafficking, has denied Maxwell’s motion for a new trial based “on the current record” — but her bid for a new trial isn’t dead yet.
Maxwell had sought a new trial on the grounds that a juror “falsely answered a material question during voir dire and … that, had he answered truthfully, he would have been subject to a challenge for cause.”
U.S. federal Judge Alison Nathan said Thursday that she was denying Maxwell’s motion for a new trial “on the current record,” because the current record relies extensively on the juror’s public statements, which the court is not allowed to consider under a federal rule of evidence.
The juror, identified in court records as “Juror No. 50,” answered “no” when asked on a pre-trial jury questionnaire if he, a friend or family member had ever been the victim of actual or attempted sexual harassment, sexual abuse or sexual assault, or other unwanted sexual advances, according to a copy of the document unsealed Thursday afternoon. After the trial, the juror then granted several media interviews in which he said he shared his experiences of being sexually abused as a child, which he claimed helped convince some skeptical jurors that key prosecution witnesses could be believed.
The judge ruled that a hearing is necessary to resolve Maxwell’s motion, and ordered Juror 50 to testify under oath at a public hearing on March 8.
The court will question Juror 50 “with input from the feds and counsel for the defendant and the Government,” Nathan wrote, while also ordering Juror 50’s questionnaire unsealed.
Todd Spodek, an attorney for Juror 50, did not comment when contacted by ABC News.
Attorneys for Maxwell could not be reached for comment.
Of Maxwell’s assertion that the current record appropriately backs her motion for a new trial, Nathan wrote that, “With regard to Juror 50’s statements that do not pertain to jury deliberations, in order to resolve the motion on this record, the Court would have to accept unsworn statements made to media outlets as true and reach factual determinations that are not available on the current record,” adding that for this reason, a hearing to resolve the motion is necessary.
The judge said that the potential offense is not that a juror with a history of sexual abuse may have served on the jury, but rather “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.”
To that end, Nathan cited “several direct, unambiguous statements to multiple media outlets” made by Juror 50 after the trial “about his own experience that do not pertain to jury deliberations and that cast doubt on the accuracy of his responses during jury selection.”
“Juror 50’s post-trial statements are ‘clear, strong, substantial and incontrovertible evidence that a specific, nonspeculative impropriety’ — namely, a false statement during jury selection — has occurred,” Nathan wrote.
The judge denied Maxwell’s separate bids for the court to conduct a hearing with respect to the other jurors, as well as Maxwell’s request for pre-hearing discovery and a broader hearing.
Maxwell, 60, was convicted last month on five felony counts, including sex trafficking and conspiracy to entice minors to travel for illegal sexual activity between 1994 and 2004. Prosecutors portrayed Maxwell and Epstein, the millionaire financier who died by suicide in 2019 while awaiting trial for child sex-trafficking, as “partners in crime who sexually exploited young girls together.”
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