NEW YORK — A juror in the Ghislaine Maxwell sex-trafficking trial who told journalists after the guilty verdict that he had been a victim of sexual abuse — a factor that could have disqualified him from serving — will have to sit for sworn testimony at a hearing in March, a federal judge overseeing the case ruled Thursday.
Juror No. 50′s accounts to news outlets about past sexual abuse raised red flags because the 30-page questionnaire that all prospective panelists were required to complete specifically asked whether candidates had a history of sexual assault, abuse or harassment. This juror, a 35-year-old executive assistant in the finance industry, did not reveal any past abuse during jury selection, according to a copy of his survey that was made public Thursday.
Prosecutors, defense attorneys and the judge relied heavily on the questionnaire as a screening tool; a number of prospective jurors were dismissed outright without further questioning based on their answers on the form alone.
U.S. District Court Judge Alison Nathan wrote in her order that Juror No. 50 “made several direct, unambiguous statements to multiple media outlets about his own experience that do not pertain to jury deliberations and that cast doubt on the accuracy of his responses during jury selection.”
He was ordered to appear in court March 8 for questioning on the discrepancy.
Nathan denied a request for a new trial by Maxwell’s attorneys that was based on the new accounts. It is likely the defense team will renew that motion after the proceeding next month.
Juror No. 50 “repeatedly and unequivocally denied having been the victim of sexual abuse, and he denied having any experience that would affect his ability to serve fairly and impartially as a juror,” Maxwell’s attorneys wrote in their motion seeking a new trial, which also was made public Thursday.
“Had Juror No. 50 told the truth, he would have been challenged, and excluded, for cause.”
Maxwell was convicted on Dec. 29 on five counts including conspiracy to commit sex trafficking and sex trafficking. She has not yet been sentenced but faces up to 65 years in prison for her role in facilitating sexualized massages for her former companion, financier Jeffrey Epstein.
Epstein died by suicide in jail in August 2019, where he was being held while awaiting his own sex-trafficking trial.
In a January motion to the court that was made public on Thursday, Todd Spodek, an attorney for Juror No. 50, said that his client “does not recall answering questions” during the jury screening process “regarding his prior experience with sexual assault.”
In an interview with Reuters, the juror said he “flew through” the survey.
Jurors received written and verbal notice that they were under oath when they provided their answers and that they were sworn to give truthful responses.
Juror No. 50 faces potential criminal liability if it is determined that he lied during jury selection.
Spodek did not respond to a request for comment Thursday.