Federal prosecutors on Wednesday requested a hearing with a juror from the Ghislaine Maxwell trial who claims his personal story of being sexually abused helped convince the jury to convict Jeffrey Epstein’s confidant — but said he does not recall being asked about his own experience before he was picked to serve on the panel.
Scotty David, 35, a Manhattan resident who was identified in interviews with Reuters and a British newspaper only by his first and middle names, said he “flew through” the initial questionnaire and would have answered honestly about his own history of being sexually abused had he been asked during follow-up questioning, known as voir dire.
A copy of the juror questionnaire made public in the case specifically asks, “Have you or a friend or family member ever been the victim of sexual harassment, sexual abuse, or sexual assault?”
David said he told his fellow jurors about his experience after some voiced doubt about the credibility of Jane and Carolyn — both pseudonyms — who are two of the four women who testified that Maxwell groomed them for sex with Epstein when they were just teenagers.
“When I shared that, they were able to sort of come around on, they were able to come around on the memory aspect of the sexual abuse,” he said in the interviews with Reuters and The Independent.
The government has asked for a hearing on David’s revelation in about a month, with a briefing on it, for an inquiry to be conducted by U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan for the Southern District of New York, where Maxwell’s child sex trafficking trial was held.
Maxwell’s defense attorneys said Wednesday the disclosures in published interviews by one of the jurors in her case “presents incontrovertible grounds for a new trial.”
While David’s revelation could give Maxwell’s team ammunition to request a mistrial, it’s still a long shot, NBC News legal expert Danny Cevallos said.
“A defendant who asks for a new trial based on allegations of juror misconduct faces a very high hurdle,” he said. “Even where a juror deliberately omitted or misstated facts during voir dire, a new trial will not be granted unless the juror’s nondisclosure concealed some bias or partiality that would have sustained a for-cause challenge.”
NBC News has reached out to David, but has not heard back from him.
Maxwell, 60, was convicted last week of five federal sex trafficking charges. Her lawyers say she was unfairly prosecuted because the government can no longer go after Epstein, who hanged himself in a Manhattan jail cell two years ago while awaiting his own sex trafficking trial.
Earlier this week, Nathan gave Maxwell’s defense attorneys and the prosecutors a deadline of Jan. 10 to submit sentencing proposals and recommendations.
Also, a trial date has not yet been set for the two perjury counts that were not part of Maxwell’s sex trafficking trial. They were part of the original indictment when she was arrested in July 2020.
But her lawyers have requested that all other briefings for post-trial motions be postponed pending an inquiry into the juror’s statements.
During the trial, the accuser identified as Jane testified that she was regularly abused by Epstein and took part in orgies that included both Maxwell and Epstein at the financier’s sprawling homes in Palm Beach, Florida, and New York City and on his New Mexico ranch.
Jane also told the court Epstein took her to meet Donald Trump when she was just 14, but she did not allege any improper behavior by the future president.
Carolyn told the court Maxwell personally inspected her body to see if she was suitable for sex with Epstein and his powerful pals.
“She came in and felt my boobs and my hips and my buttocks and said I had a great body for Mr. Epstein and his friends,” she testified.
Tom Winter is a New York-based correspondent covering crime, courts, terrorism and financial fraud on the East Coast for the NBC News Investigative Unit.
Corky Siemaszko is a senior writer for NBC News Digital.