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Ghislaine Maxwell Juror Says He ‘Didn’t Lie to Get on This Jury’

A juror whose failure to disclose that he was sexually abused as a child has clouded the guilty verdict against Ghislaine Maxwell testified on Tuesday that he had made an “honest mistake” and inadvertently withheld the information during the jury selection process.

The juror, identified as Juror 50, told a federal judge in Manhattan that he had quickly read through a pretrial screening questionnaire that asked whether he had ever been the victim of sexual abuse and mistakenly checked a box that responded “no.”

“This is one of the biggest mistakes I have ever made in my life,” Juror 50 said. “I didn’t lie to get on this jury.”

He added that if he could “go back and change everything,” and actually have taken the time “to read this appropriately, I would in a heartbeat.”

Ms. Maxwell, 60, the former companion of the disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein, was convicted on Dec. 29 of sex-trafficking and four other counts. At the trial, the jury heard testimony over three weeks about how Ms. Maxwell helped Mr. Epstein recruit, groom and sexually abuse underage girls for at least a decade.

The unusual hearing on Tuesday was ordered by Judge Alison J. Nathan after Ms. Maxwell’s lawyers, citing post-trial interviews by Juror 50 with several news outlets, asked the judge to throw out the verdict and grant Ms. Maxwell a new trial.

The judge did not say when she would rule.

Juror 50 revealed in the media interviews that during the jury’s deliberations, he told other jurors that he had been the victim of childhood sexual abuse, and that he did not report that abuse for years.

In one interview, he said the jury room “went silent” as he told his story, and he said he helped other jurors understand things from a victim’s point of view.

But it was his response to the question in the screening questionnaire administered by the court during the selection process that has led Ms. Maxwell’s lawyers to seek a new trial.

The lawyers told the judge that Juror 50 “did not truthfully respond to perhaps the most important question put to potential jurors about their personal experiences — a question that pertained directly to the core allegations against Ms. Maxwell: whether they had been a victim of sexual assault or abuse.”

“Had Juror No. 50 told the truth,” the lawyers argued, “he would have been challenged, and excluded, for cause.”

In trying to assess the impact of disclosures inside the jury room, judges are barred from questioning jurors about what was said during deliberations. But a judge can look at statements jurors made during the jury selection phase.

“Following trial,” Judge Nathan wrote in an opinion last month, “Juror 50 made several direct, unambiguous statements to multiple media outlets about his own experience that do not pertain to jury deliberations and that cast doubt on the accuracy of his responses” in jury selection.

The statements were “clear, strong, substantial and incontrovertible evidence” that an impropriety had occurred — “namely, a false statement during jury selection,” the judge said.

She noted that the potential impropriety was not that a juror with a history of sexual abuse might have served on the jury.

“Rather,” she wrote, “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.”

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