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Ghislaine Maxwell may duck perjury counts, feds say, if sex ring conviction sticks

Prosecutors say they would be inclined to drop the severed perjury charges against Ghislaine Maxwell if the convicted sex trafficker loses her bid for a retrial.

MANHATTAN (CN) — Suggesting that a second criminal trial of convicted sex trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell would retraumatize victims and delay closure, prosecutors offered Monday to dismiss a pair of perjury counts that were severed from Maxwell’s superseding indictment.

The move comes days after media outlets quoted one of the jurors who helped convict Maxwell on five counts related to the recruitment of victims for abuse by the late financier Jeffrey Epstein that he too was a child victim of sexual abuse and that such history never came up in the jury-selection process.

While prosectors have called for a hearing into this development, Maxwell says the interviews alone are enough to throw out her sex-trafficking convictions in favor of a retrial.

The government followed up on the matter late Monday evening. “In the event the defendant’s post-trial motions are denied, the Government is prepared to dismiss the severed perjury counts at the time of sentencing, in light of the victims’ significant interests in bringing closure to this matter and avoiding the trauma of testifying again,” prosecutors wrote in a 3-page letter to the court.

Maxwell is slated to be tried later this year on two severed perjury counts stemming from a pair of depositions the British heiress underwent in 2016 when she faced a civil defamation suit from Epstein accuser Virginia Giuffre. Feds say Maxwell lied in these sworn interviews to conceal the sex crimes she committed.

U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan agreed before the start of Maxwell’s monthlong sex trafficking trial last year to sever the perjury counts from the sex trafficking counts.

“Trying the perjury counts together with the Mann Act counts would risk an unfair trial on each set of counts,” Judge Nathan wrote in April. “First, it would introduce unrelated allegations of sexual abuse, which would potentially expose the jury to evidence that might otherwise not be admissible. In particular, a joint trial would potentially expose the jury to a wider swath of information regarding civil litigation against Epstein that is remote from Maxwell’s charged conduct. This presents a significant risk that the jury will cumulate the evidence of the various crimes charged and find guilt when, if considered separately, it would not do so.”

Judge Nathan has not yet set a date for the sentencing of the trafficking convictions. Maxwell, who turned 60 on Dec. 25, faces up to 65 years in prison on the five counts.

Seeking ample time to resolve Maxwell’s pending bid for retrial, prosecutors have asked for a sentencing date in approximately three or four months. The defense meanwhile has asked to delay setting a sentencing schedule until after Judge Nathan rules on their request for a new trial.

“The parties are currently briefing that issue,” the government’s letter notes. “For the same reason, the defense intends to set forth in its moving papers the reasons why Ms. Maxwell should not be forced to expend resources to brief other post-trial motions until after the Court decides this motion.

“Furthermore, requiring Ms. Maxwell to participate in the preparation of the Presentence Investigation Report, while she is awaiting a decision on her motion for a new trial, will adversely impact her Fifth Amendment rights,” the letter continues. "Ms. Maxwell will be forced into the position of not cooperating with the Probation Department’s investigation because any statement she makes to Probation, and any documents she provides, may be used against her at her retrial."

The juror who has recently disclosed past childhood sexual abuse was identified in an interview with The Independent, as Scotty David, his first and middle names. There he is quoted as explaining why he found all of the victim accusers’ testimony to be credible, despite attacks on their stories and memories from Maxwell’s defense attorneys.

“I know what happened when I was sexually abused. I remember the color of the carpet, the walls. Some of it can be replayed like a video,” Scotty told the Independent of his own experience. “But I can’t remember all the details, there are some things that run together,” he said, adding that he shared these insights with fellow jurors during deliberations.

Last week, the government requested an evidentiary hearing to investigate the possible grounds for a mistral after a partially-identified juror from Maxwell's recent criminal trial told several news outlets that he was a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. Maxwell’s defense meanwhile insisted a heavily redacted letter that "based on this record alone, a new trial is required.”

Judge Nathan last week ordered Maxwell’s defense to file their motion for retrial in two weeks, with a government response by Feb. 2, 2022.

When Judge Nathan gave the jury their instructions before beginning deliberations on Monday, Dec. 20, she advised the 12 jurors and five alternates that “there is no magic formula by which you can evaluate testimony.”

“You bring to this courtroom all your experience and common sense. You determine for yourselves in many circumstances the reliability of statements that are made by others to you and upon which you are asked to rely and act,” the judge told jurors shortly after both parties delivered their closing arguments. “You may use the same tests here that you use in your everyday lives,” the judge said.

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