A federal judge Friday denied granting a new trial to British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, who had argued that her conviction for procuring underage girls to be sexually abused by Jeffrey Epstein was tainted by the presence of a juror who failed to disclose he himself had been sexually abused as a child.
Judge Alison Nathan said Maxwell’s lawyers had failed to satisfy the requirements for granting a new trial in a criminal case.
Nathan wrote in her ruling that the juror had credibly testified during a hearing in March that he “skimmed way too fast” over a questionnaire before Maxwell’s trial last winter that asked prospective jurors if they had been the victims of sexual abuse.
Maxwell’s lawyers said that Juror 50’s failure to answer that with a yes, instead of the no, as he did, violated her right to have a fair trial.
But Nathan wrote that based on Juror 50’s testimony last month, she believed that “he was not biased and would not have been stricken for cause” from serving on the jury “even if he had answered each question on the questionnaire accurately.”
Ghislaine Maxwell appears via video link during her arraignment hearing where she was denied bail for her role aiding Jeffrey Epstein to recruit and eventually abuse of minor girls, in Manhattan Federal Court, in New York, July 14, 2020 in this courtroom sketch.
Jane Rosenberg | Reuters
The hearing in March was called after Juror 50 gave several interviews with media outlets and revealed he had been the victim of sexual abuse, and that he mentioned that abuse to other jurors during their deliberations at the trial.
Juror 50 initially said he would refuse to answer questions at the hearing by invoking his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, but testified under oath after being granted immunity from prosecution.
Maxwell, 60, was convicted Dec. 29 in U.S. District Court in Manhattan of five felony counts, including conspiracy to entice minors to travel to engage in illegal sexual acts.
She faces decades in prison when she is sentenced on June 28 for those crimes, which relate to the abuse of underage girls by her and Epstein in the 1990s.
The accusers in the case were teenagers when they were allegedly abused by Epstein at his properties in the United States and London.
Maxwell, who at one time had been Epstein’s girlfriend and his property manager, has been held without bail since her arrest in July 2020 in New Hampshire.
That arrest came one year after Epstein himself was arrested on federal child sex trafficking charges for abusing dozens of underage girls.
The 66-year-old money manager died in a federal jail in Manhattan in August 2019 while awaiting trial, from what has officially been ruled a suicide by hanging in his cell.
Epstein previously had been friends with a number of rich and famous people, among them two former presidents, Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, and Prince Andrew of Britain.