Lawyers for British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, found guilty of sex trafficking in late December, called for a new trial on Wednesday. They highlight the fact that one of the jurors would have influenced the rest of the jury by revealing that he himself had been the victim of sexual abuse.
In a court document dated Wednesday, which AFP was able to consult, the lawyers rely in particular on an article from the Daily Mail, in which one of the jurors confides having summoned his memories of a victim during the deliberations to shed light on the rest. of the jury. The defense sees this as “irrefutable grounds for a new trial”.
After 40 hours of deliberations spread over five days, the jury on December 29 declared Ghislaine Maxwell, 60, guilty of five of the six charges against her, the most serious of which, that of sex trafficking with her former partner. , financier Jeffrey Epstein, who died in prison in 2019. No date has yet been set for sentencing, which is now at risk of being delayed.
The question of the reliability of memories
The incident was taken seriously by the federal prosecutor’s office in Manhattan, New York, who suggested the court “conduct an investigation”, including whether the juror disclosed during the jury process, that is, before the start of the hearings, having been the victim of sexual violence in the past. This information could have led to further scrutiny in his selection, the defense then being able to argue his bias for such a case.
Judge Alison Nathan responded later Wednesday, in another written document, that the defense request would be considered, without ruling on an investigation. She set a date of January 19 for the defense to present its case, with a deadline of February 2 for the prosecution to respond.
In the Daily Mail article, the juror, a 35-year-old man, presented under his two first names Scotty David, explains that his experience allowed him to enlighten other jurors on the fact that victims of sexual abuse do not do not always have a linear and exact memory of their trauma. The defense had attacked certain testimonies during the trial, noting inconsistencies in the accounts of the victims.
In parallel, an investigation into the British Prince Andrew
“According to the juror, this revelation influenced the deliberations and convinced the other members of the jury to convict Mrs. Maxwell”, write her defenders. The juror says he does not remember if he was asked if he had been the victim of sexual abuse, saying he “skimmed over” the questionnaire that was submitted to him, but he assures that he would have answered honestly if the question told him had been posed.
In parallel with this trial, American justice is examining the civil lawsuits brought by one of the couple’s victims, Virginia Giuffre, against British Prince Andrew, whom she accuses of having raped her in 2001, when she had 17 years. Prince Andrew, who was dating the Epstein-Maxwell couple, has always vigorously denied these accusations.