Ghislaine Maxwell lawyers call for retrial after juror says they were sexual abuse victim

5 January 2022, 19:39 | Updated: 6 January 2022, 08:34

Maxwell was convicted in December
Maxwell was convicted in December. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Ghislaine Maxwell’s lawyers have called for a retrial after a juror claimed he was a sexual abuse victim.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

The socialite was found guilty last month of five counts of trafficking girls for her former partner Jeffrey Epstein to abuse.

But since the trial, one juror has claimed in media interviews they were a victim of sexual abuse.

Two defence lawyers - Jeffrey Pagliuca and Laura Menninger - have since said in a letter to US District Judge Alison J Nathan that "based on undisputed, publicly available information, the court can and should order a new trial without any evidentiary hearing".

"Ms Maxwell intends to request a new trial," they wrote.

"Any submission will include all known undisputed remarks of the juror, including recorded statements, the relevant questionnaire, and other non-controverted facts.

"It is clear to Ms Maxwell that based on this record alone a new trial is required."

LISTEN: Hunting Ghislaine: The Trial

It comes as the judge has been asked to look into the claims.

Prosecutors say he claimed he "flew through" a questionnaire designed to pick members of the jury who could pass a verdict on Maxwell.

In a letter to Judge Nathan, they said: "While the court instructed jurors that they were free to discuss their jury service with anyone of their choosing, some of the statements, as related in the media, merit attention by the court. In particular, the juror has described being a victim of sexual abuse.

"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."

Maxwell, who grew up in the UK and was well-known in London's social life, has been awaiting sentencing after her conviction on December 29, which followed a trial and jury deliberations that lasted a month.

The 60-year-old helped bring vulnerable teenagers to properties owned by Epstein for him to sexually abuse between 1994 and 2004.

She was a friend of Prince Andrew's, and the case in New York drew intense focus for any implications it might have on the royal's own legal troubles.

He is waiting to hear if his bid to have a sexual assault lawsuit against him will be thrown out by a US judge.

The juror in Maxwell's case said he was a victim of sexual abuse in an interview after the conviction.

"They were all believable. Nothing they said felt to me like a lie," he told the Independent, speaking about the witnesses who testified against Maxwell.

"I know what happened when I was sexually abused. I remember the colour of the carpet, the walls. Some of it can be replayed like a video.

"But I can't remember all the details, there are some things that run together."

Reports say that although the juror claimed they "flew through" the juror questionnaire, one of the questions asked: "Have you or a friend or family member ever been the victim of sexual harassment, sexual abuse, or sexual assault?"

A different question said: "Witnesses in this case may testify claiming sexual abuse or sexual assault. Would you have any difficulty assessing the credibility of a witness claiming sexual assault or abuse just like you would any other witness?"

Prosecutors have suggested a hearing for the issue in a month's time. A date for Maxwell's sentencing had not yet been set.