- The pre-trial questionnaire for Juror #50 in the Ghislaine Maxwell trial has finally been unsealed.
- The questionnaire shows that the juror did not disclose his sexual abuse experience ahead of the trial.
- Maxwell’s attorneys have demanded a new trial, saying their client was denied a fair and impartial jury.
Federal court documents unsealed Thursday night revealed that a juror for the Ghislaine Maxwell trial did not reveal his sexual abuse history when he was asked about it in a pre-trial questionnaire that he completed under oath.
Juror #50, who has publicly identified himself as Scotty David (his first and middle names), threw Maxwell’s sex-trafficking conviction into doubt last month when he told multiple media outlets that he used his personal experience as a sexual abuse survivor to persuade other jurors to reach a guilty verdict.
His revelations to the media came as a shock to Maxwell’s defense team, who are now arguing that their client should be granted a new trial because the jury “was not fair and impartial.”
David’s pre-trial questionnaire showed that he checked the “No” box on a question asking if he had ever been “the victim of sexual harassment, sexual abuse, or sexual assault.” The document showed that he also responded “No” to a question asking if he had ever been the victim of a crime.
Though prosecutors and defense attorneys for Maxwell had previously suggested in other court filings that David answered “No” to the questions, his questionnaire wasn’t revealed publicly until Thursday evening.
A prospective juror’s experiences as a sexual abuse survivor aren’t automatically disqualifying for jury service, but defense attorneys often seek to weed out jurors whose past experiences could present biases against the defendant. For instance, had David answered “Yes” to those questions, Maxwell’s lawyers would likely have pressed David further during the jury selection process known as voir dire.
But because David responded “No” to the questions, “the court did not ask Juror No. 50 whether the abuse he suffered would make it difficult to be a fair and impartial juror, whether he would be biased against Ms. Maxwell, whether he could set aside any bias he might have, or whether he could fairly and impartially evaluate Ms. Maxwell’s defense,” Maxwell’s attorneys wrote in a court filing.
David has denied being dishonest on his questionnaire. He told Reuters last month that he “flew through” the questions and didn’t recall being asked about his personal experience with sexual abuse before he was seated on the jury.
David’s attorney, Todd Spodek, wrote in a court filing that his client “does not recall answering questions regarding his prior experience with sexual assault.”
On Thursday, Judge Alison Nathan denied Maxwell’s request for a new trial, saying it was necessary to hear directly from the juror first. David is scheduled for a hearing March 8, when Nathan will question him under oath about whether he was honest during jury selection.
Nathan emphasized in a court order Thursday that “the potential impropriety is not that someone with a history of sexual abuse may have served on the jury. Rather, it is the potential failure to respond truthfully to questions during the jury selection process that asked for that material information so that any potential bias could be explored.”