Ghislaine Maxwell in a courtroom sketch during her trial on Dec. 29th, 2021.
Artist: Christine Cornell
Federal prosecutors asked a judge to grant immunity to a juror so that he can be forced to testify Tuesday at a New York court hearing on whether he lied before he was selected to sit on the sex crime trial of British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell.
Juror 50’s lawyer has said that without immunity from prosecution, the man will refuse to testify under his Fifth Amendment right against giving self-incriminating evidence on the witness stand.
That stance reflects the potential risk that Juror 50 could be charged with lying on a jury selection questionnaire before Maxwell’s trial. At the time, he indicated he had not been a victim of sexual abuse.
But Juror 50 later told reporters that he had been abused as a child and that he had mentioned that fact to fellow jurors during their deliberations. The jury convicted Maxwell in late December of procuring underage girls to be sexually abused by late money manager Jeffrey Epstein.
Maxwell’s lawyers have asked Manhattan federal court Judge Alison Nathan to order a new trial for her based on the juror’s alleged lie on his questionnaire.
If the man had told the truth about being an abuse victim, defense lawyers argue, he would have been more closely questioned about whether he could be fair to Maxwell, and could have been excluded from the jury panel because of his history.
Nathan ordered Tuesday’s hearing so that the man could be questioned about his differing claims before she makes her ruling on the bid for a new trial.
In its request for immunity for the juror, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York said that the testimony that the man could give “may be necessary to the public interest.”
The court filing making that request notes that it was approved by a deputy assistant attorney general in the U.S. Justice Department.
Maxwell, 60, was arrested in July 2020 at her home in New Hampshire, a year after Epstein himself was arrested on charges of child sex trafficking. She has been held without bond in a Brooklyn federal jail since then.
Epstein, 66, died from what has officially been ruled a suicide by hanging in the Manhattan federal jail in August 2019 while awaiting trial.
He previously pleaded guilty to prostitution involving an underage girl in a Florida state case and served 13 months in jail. Epstein before his conviction was friends with a wide range of rich and famous people, including Presidents Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, and Britain’s Prince Andrew.