On Wednesday night, just before the filing deadline, Ghislaine Maxwell’s lawyers submitted a motion for a new trial, aiming to dismiss her December conviction on sex-trafficking charges. Maxwell’s defense initially requested a new trial and indicated they would file a motion to that end earlier in January, after a juror revealed to a reporter that he may have omitted pertinent information during the selection process. On Wednesday, they filed the motion under seal and asked that all submissions be sealed until U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan makes her ruling.
“Today, counsel for Ghislaine Maxwell filed her Motion for a New Trial (the “Motion”) and accompanying exhibits under seal,” said a Jan. 19 letter from attorney Bobbi Sternheim to Judge Nathan. “For the reasons set forth in the Motion, we request that all submissions pertaining to Juror No. 50 remain under seal until the Court rules on the Motion.”
Maxwell’s closely watched sex-trafficking trial began shortly after Thanksgiving in New York’s Southern District, where the British socialite stood accused of helping procure underage girls for the late financier and sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. Throughout the monthslong proceedings, four accusers shared intimate and graphic details of abuse they’d endured during their teenage years by Epstein and how Maxwell had groomed them for it and, at times, participated. Recounting their experiences, they often wept on the stand. On Dec. 29, the Maxwell was found guilty on five of the six charges she faced, including enticing a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts and sex trafficking a minor.
Now, a post-trial interview threatens those results. Days after the verdict was announced, a juror, released from his obligation not to talk about the case, gave a celebratory interview to The Independent in which he discussed convincing fellow jurors to believe survivors of sexual abuse by sharing his own experience as an abuse survivor during deliberations. “This verdict is for all the victims,” said the juror, who identified himself by his first and middle name only, Scotty David.
Unfortunately for the security of the verdict, however, Scotty David also revealed to the press that he could not remember being asked about his experience with sexual abuse during jury selection, either on the 51-question jury questionnaire — which included a question on whether you or any friends or family members have been the victim of sexual abuse or sexual assault — or during follow-up questioning known as voir dire. The possibility that he’d lied during the selection process and then gone on to play an influential role in deliberations was enough to trigger this motion for a new trial by Maxwell’s defense. The prosecution has until Feb. 2 to respond. On Thursday morning, the judge had not yet addressed to the request to seal all submissions related to the juror.