Jurors With History of Sexual Abuse Complicate Ghislaine Maxwell Conviction

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Federal prosecutors have asked Alison J. Nathan, the judge who oversaw Ghislaine Maxwell’s sex-trafficking trial, to investigate the process by which one of the jurors was chosen after he told news outlets he was a sexual abuse victim and had discussed his experience during deliberations, reports the New York Times. In response, Maxwell’s lawyers indicated that they planned to have a mistrial declared in the case, saying in two letters to the judge that their client would seek a new trial and that the judge “can and should order” one without holding a hearing, pointing to a federal rule that grants a judge the power to grant a new trial when the “interest of justice so requires.”

Federal prosecutors contested this request by asking the judge to, instead, schedule a hearing on the matter in about a month, adding that “any juror investigation should be conducted exclusively under the supervision of the court.” Meanwhile, a second juror has also admitted to being sexually abused as a child and that they too had discussed the experience during deliberations and that the revelation had appeared to help shape the jury’s discussions, further complicating the situation. The two jurors’ disclosures could be particularly problematic if they failed to note their experiences to the court during jury selection, despite being specifically asked about past sexual abuse or harassment in a confidential questionnaire given to all potential jurors. Federal prosecutors asked the judge in the case, Alison J. Nathan, to schedule a hearing on the matter in about a month, adding that “any juror investigation should be conducted exclusively under the supervision of the court.”

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