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prosecutors seek inquiry about juror’s claim of past sexual abuse

Epstein, a financier and convicted sex offender, killed himself in August 2019 in a Manhattan jail while awaiting his own sex trafficking trial.

Moira Penza, a partner at the Wilkinson Stekloff law firm and a former federal prosecutor, said any inquiry would likely focus on whether the juror made a mistake or omission in answering questions on an initial screening questionnaire for prospective jurors or follow-up questions from the judge.

Maxwell’s jurors had been asked whether they or family members had personally experienced sexual abuse or assault.

The juror said he “breezed through” the questionnaire during the selection process.

The juror said he “breezed through” the questionnaire during the selection process. Credit:AP/Elizabeth Williams

Jurors who said yes were asked by the judge during follow-up questioning whether that would affect their ability to be fair and impartial.

“Defence lawyers will argue that this question was so part and parcel to figuring out that juror’s bias or any juror’s bias,” she said.

Penza said there have been instances where courts granted new trials based on “purposeful lies or omissions” during the process of screening jurors, known as voir dire, which she said “is not what we’re hearing so far”.

Scotty David, a 35-year-old Manhattan resident, told Reuters that during deliberations, after some jurors questioned some recollections from two of Maxwell’s accusers, he shared his experience of having been sexually abused as a child.

“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,” Scotty David said, referring to other jurors.

He added that reaching a unanimous verdict “wasn’t easy, to be honest”.

Penza said that in any inquiry about the juror’s statements, the judge would be restricted from asking about the impact Scotty David’s statements had on jury deliberations because the secrecy of the deliberation process is considered “sacrosanct.”

Maxwell was convicted on five of the six counts she faced. She faces two additional perjury counts at a second trial that has yet to be scheduled.

Reuters

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