By LARRY NEUMEISTER and DANIKA KIRKA Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) — The siblings of Ghislaine Maxwell said Tuesday they are “profoundly shocked and troubled” that a judge rejected a new trial for the British socialite on sex trafficking charges despite revelations that a juror who helped to convict her failed to disclose he was sexually abused as a child.
In a statement, the “Maxwell Family” said it was focused on an appeal of U.S. District Judge Alison J. Nathan’s ruling last Friday that left intact Maxwell’s conviction on charges that she served as the key recruiter of teenage girls for financier Jeffrey Epstein to sexually abuse from 1994 to 2004.
The judge said she concluded that a December verdict convicting Maxwell, 60, of sex trafficking and other charges was still valid because the juror did not deliberately give wrong answers on a juror questionnaire and because he “harbored no bias toward the defendant and could serve as a fair and impartial juror.”
“Our family is profoundly shocked and troubled by the denial of a retrial for our sister, Ghislaine Maxwell,” Maxwell family members said. “The court’s ruling in this matter is as tainted as the original verdict is unsafe.”
The statement said that the issue over Juror No. 50’s revelations to media outlets after the trial will be one among many issues that will be appealed to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan.
“Our Family is optimistic about Ghislaine’s success on appeal,” they wrote.
Juror No. 50’s media interviews days after the verdict came after a month-long trial at which Maxwell was portrayed as the crucial component of Epstein’s sexual abuse conspiracy. Sometimes, prosecutors said, Maxwell joined in the abuse.
After the trial’s conclusion, the juror, identified in court papers only as Juror No. 50, said publicly that he’d been abused as a child and had persuaded some fellow jurors that a victim’s imperfect memory of abuse doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.
He was among potential jurors in the case who filled out a 50-page questionnaire including a question that asked: “Have you or a friend or family member ever been the victim of sexual harassment, sexual abuse, or sexual assault?”
The juror checked “No.”
The juror said in one interview that he didn’t remember being asked that question, which was No. 48 on the form.
After rejecting defense demands that she immediately order a new trial, the judge conducted an unusual hearing at which she questioned the juror.
His answers were analyzed by the judge in her written decision last Friday.
She said she concluded that his rush to finish the questionnaire led to inaccurate answers.
“Juror 50’s lack of attention and care in responding accurately to every question on the questionnaire is regrettable, but the Court is confident that the failure to disclose was not deliberate,” she wrote. “The Court further finds that Juror 50 was not biased and would not have been stricken for cause even if he had answered each question on the questionnaire accurately.”
Defense lawyers had insisted that they would have used one of a limited number of “strikes” that allow them to eliminate several jurors for any reason at all to force him off the jury.
In its statement, Maxwell family members said the judge had failed to uphold “the paramount interests of justice” by severely limiting the questioning of the juror and had “effectively ensured the loading of the dice” by granting him immunity from prosecution for perjury.
Epstein was 66 when he committed suicide in 2019 as he awaited a sex trafficking trial in Manhattan.