Judge denies Ghislaine Maxwell’s bid for new trial

U.S.

Ghislaine Maxwell attends the WIE Symposium at Center 548 on September 20, 2013 in New York City. (Laura Cavanaugh / Getty)

NEW YORK (Reuters) —  A U.S. judge on Friday upheld Ghislaine Maxwell’s sex trafficking conviction, despite a juror’s acknowledgment that he had falsely stated before the trial he had not been sexually abused.

Maxwell, 60, had been convicted in December of helping the late financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein sexually abuse teenage girls.

The British socialite requested a new trial in January after one of her 12 jurors said in media interviews he had been sexually abused as a child.

Asked in a pretrial screening questionnaire whether he had been a victim of sexual abuse, the juror checked “no.”

Maxwell’s lawyers would have struck the juror from the panel if he had answered honestly, and said his false statement denied Maxwell her right to a fair trial.

Prosecutors contended that Maxwell could not show the juror, identified in court papers as Juror No. 50, was biased, after he said during jury selection he would be fair and impartial and decide the case based on the evidence. 

In her decision on Friday, U.S. Circuit Judge Alison Nathan said the juror, referred to as Juror 50 in court papers, testified truthfully at a hearing last month over Maxwell’s request for a new trial.

“His failure to disclose his prior sexual abuse during the jury selection process was highly unfortunate, but not deliberate,” Nathan wrote. “The Court further concludes that Juror 50 harbored no bias toward the Defendant and could serve as a fair and impartial juror.”

Maxwell’s lawyers have vowed to appeal the guilty verdict.

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