A juror who voted to convict Ghislaine Maxwell of sex trafficking testified under oath on Tuesday that he made an “inadvertent mistake” when he filled out his jury questionnaire form, an admission that could upend her conviction.
The juror, who was granted immunity to testify, indicated in the pre-trial questionnaire that he was not a victim of sexual abuse. But under oath Tuesday, he said that he had been sexually abused by a stepbrother and his friend when he was 9 and 10 years old.
He said he was distracted and unfocused when he filled out the questionnaire, and he described the misstatement as one of the biggest mistakes of his life. Yet he maintained that his own abuse did not shape his views and did not influence his approach as a juror in the trial, and he denied tailoring his answers to get a spot on the jury.
“I did not hope to be on this jury,” he said.
The juror said he was not careful on the questionnaire because he never thought he’d be picked to sit on the jury with such a large pool of prospective jurors at the courthouse, he recalled.
Judge Alison Nathan questioned the juror for about an hour on Tuesday. The parties will submit court filings next week, and then Nathan is expected to render a decision afterward.
The testimony has the potential to cause a mistrial for Maxwell, the former girlfriend and close associate of Jeffrey Epstein. She was convicted in December of sex trafficking a minor and four other counts for her role in facilitating Epstein’s sexual abuse of minor girls between 1994 and 2004.
Her lawyers have argued she should be granted a new trial because the juror lied on his form and misled the court.
The issue became public after the conviction when the juror gave multiple interviews to media outlets saying he had been sexually abused as a child. He said several jurors had issues with the victims’ faulty memories, so he shared his personal experience during deliberations.
“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,” the juror said in a Reuters interview.
However, potential jurors were explicitly asked on jury questionnaire forms if they had been sexually abused and, if so, if it would impact their abilities to be impartial while deliberating. A copy of Juror 50’s jury questionnaire showed he stated on the form that he had not been sexually abused.
Nathan granted the juror immunity to compel him to testify because his lawyer said the juror would invoke his Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself at the hearing,
During Maxwell’s trial, prosecutors argued she and Epstein conspired to set up a scheme to lure young girls into sexual relationships with Epstein in New York, Florida, New Mexico and the US Virgin Islands.
Maxwell was found guilty of sex trafficking of a minor, transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity and three related counts of conspiracy. She faces up to 65 years in prison. She was acquitted on a charge of enticing a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts.
The jury of six women and six men had deliberated for about 40 hours across parts of six days before the verdict.
CNN’s Sonia Moghe and Susannah Cullinane contributed to this report.