Ghislaine Maxwell’s lawyers demanded a new sex crimes trial January 5 after a juror said he had helped convict the British socialite by telling fellow jury members about his experience of sexual abuse.
Maxwell’s attorneys told New York judge Alison Nathan that the comments by Scotty David, identified by his first and middle names, “presents incontrovertible grounds for a new trial”.
The juror, one of 12 who found Maxwell guilty last week of trafficking minors for late financier Jeffrey Epstein to abuse, has given several interviews about deliberations since the December 29 verdict.
In them, the 35-year-old said he had helped sway panelists who were doubting the accounts of the two main accusers, “Jane” and “Carolyn”.
He said he told them that he did not remember every single detail of the abuse he had received.
Maxwell’s attorney Christian Everdell said in a letter sent to Nathan that was filed in court on January 5 that his team believed “the law and facts are clearly on our side”.
“The defence respectfully requests that the court set a briefing schedule for this motion alone and defer setting a briefing schedule for any other post-trial motions,” he wrote.
Maxwell’s request came after New York prosecutors wrote to Nathan requesting an inquiry into whether Scotty David had disclosed that he was a sexual abuse victim during jury selection.
During the lengthy process, prospective candidates were asked in an initial questionnaire whether they or any relatives had been victims of sexual abuse.
Anyone who answered yes was subject to further questioning to try to determine whether they could be an impartial juror.
In an interview with a news agency, Scotty David said he “flew through” the questionnaire and could not remember being asked about any personal experiences of abuse.
He added however that he would have answered honestly, the agency reported.
“The government believes the court should conduct an inquiry”, wrote Damian Williams, US attorney for the Southern District of New York.
Nathan later instructed Maxwell’s lawyers to submit their motion for a new trial by January 19, with the government to respond by February 2.
The judge held off making a decision on whether an inquiry would be granted but said she would offer Scotty David a court-appointed lawyer in case he is required to testify.
Any inquiry is expected to focus on whether the juror disclosed the sexual abuse at the questionnaire stage.
If he did not then Nathan will need to decide whether that failure substantially prejudiced the case, legal experts say.
“It’s not an insignificant issue. It’s going to be given serious treatment by the judge,” former prosecutor Bennett Gershman said.
Maxwell, 60, was convicted on five of six counts and faces spending the rest of her life behind bars.
She is due to be sentenced at a date yet to be determined.