Ghislaine Maxwell: juror calls false answer on questionnaire "biggest mistake"

The error could lead to Maxwell's conviction on sex trafficking and other charges being thrown out

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A Ghislaine Maxwell juror who didn't disclose he had been sexually abused on a pretrial questionnaire said during a hearing Tuesday that he deeply regretted the error and called it inadvertent.

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"It's one of the biggest mistakes I've ever made in my life," he said, seated in the courtroom witness box, in response to questioning by U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan in Manhattan federal court. The juror was accompanied by his attorney Todd Spodek.

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 11: Ghislaine Maxwell attends NATIONAL URBAN TECH CENTER 2014 Gala at Three Sixty on June 11, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Jimi Celeste/Patrick McMullan via Getty Image

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 11: Ghislaine Maxwell attends NATIONAL URBAN TECH CENTER 2014 Gala at Three Sixty on June 11, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Jimi Celeste/Patrick McMullan via Getty Image (Photo by Jimi Celeste/Patrick McMullan via Getty Image)

The error could put the British socialite's sex trafficking conviction in jeopardy. Her attorneys have asked a judge to throw out the verdict, arguing they may have objected to his presence on the jury had they known of his history.

The judge fired off dozens of questions to Juror No. 50 over his false answer on the questionnaire that had directly asked him whether he had been a victim of sexual abuse.  

He said he had "skimmed way too fast" through the screening form that all prospective jurors have to fill out.

Ghislaine Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein in an undated evidence photo.

Ghislaine Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein in an undated evidence photo.

The judge asked whether he was intentionally inaccurate. "Absolutely not," he responded, adding that if he could, he'd take back the mistake in a "heartbeat."

The juror explained that he had been sexually abused at the age of 9 and 10 by two people but hadn't reported it to his mom until he was in high school.

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Maxwell, 60, wearing a blue prison jumpsuit, scribbled notes in the courtroom during the hearing that lasted about an hour and  a half. 

Question No. 48 on the lengthy prescreening form he filled out in November had asked: "Have you or a friend or family member ever been the victim of sexual harassment, sexual abuse, or sexual assault? (This includes actual or attempted sexual assault or other unwanted sexual advance, including by a stranger, acquaintance, supervisor, teacher, or family member.)"

Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell in 2005.

Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell in 2005. (Photo by Joe Schildhorn/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images      )

Juror No. 50 checked a box indicating "No."

Before testifying, the judge granted the juror immunity at the request of prosecutors after Spodek said his client would invoke his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination without the protection. 

Maxwell was convicted in December of sex trafficking and other charges for recruiting young women to be sexually abused by late financier Jeffrey Epstein, who killed himself in 2019 while awaiting trial on sex crimes charges.

After Maxwell was found guilty, the juror told reporters in interviews that he had shared his experience with the panel during deliberations. He described having swayed some jurors who were on the fence that an imperfect recollection of the abuse did not mean it didn't happen. 

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Nathan is expected to rule on the motion for a new trial after both sides file written arguments. Maxwell is currently scheduled to be sentenced in June.

The Associated Press contributed to this report