Interviews given by a juror in the Ghislaine Maxwell trial revealing his sexual-abuse history have surprised both the prosecution and the defense, leading her attorneys to ask the judge for a new trial.
The trial concluded December 29 with Maxwell being found guilty of five of the six charges against her including sex trafficking of a minor. (A sentencing hearing is yet to be scheduled.) After it was over, the juror spoke to three outlets, saying that when his fellow jurors doubted the ability of a witness to describe long-ago sexual abuse, he explained that he had been sexually abused and that he himself could not recall every element of the experience. He said this helped sway jurors toward conviction — though coming to a verdict “wasn’t easy,” he told Reuters.
“This verdict is for all the victims,” he told The Independent.
In interviews, the juror is using his first and middle name, Scotty David. The 35-year-old Manhattan resident works “in finance,” and pictures of him were published in the Daily Mail in which he is wearing jeans and Comme des Garçons sneakers and holding a fluffy cat. No interviews with other jurors have been published.
The juror said the jury felt sympathy for Maxwell and was scrupulous about its duties. “Because this is the rest of her life, right? We were deciding what happens based off the evidence provided,” he told the Daily Mail.
He said another juror related to and was swayed by the testimony of a victim who said she had been easily victimized because she was poor.
Prospective jury members for the trial were asked about sexual abuse in their families, though the juror said he doesn’t remember being asked or disclosing anything. Lawyers for the government said they believe the court should conduct an inquiry. Attorneys for Maxwell said they have stopped work on her appeal because they believe the juror’s interviews are grounds for a new trial.
What is the role of personal experience for a jury using evidence and common sense? There were some clues but only a little overt direction at the trial.
In her instructions to jurors just before they began deliberating, Judge Alison Nathan said it would “be improper for you to allow any feelings you might have about the nature of the crimes charged to interfere with your decision-making process.”
But she also instructed them, “Reasonable doubt is a doubt that appeals to your reason, your judgment, your experience, and your common sense.”
In closing arguments, prosecutor Maurene Comey asked jurors to use their own experiences of memory. “Now imagine you were asked to recall a recurring event from years ago in your own lives,” she said, noting that deviations from routine are what stand out in our memories. “You remember keen moments, moments that change your life.”
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