A juror in the Ghislaine Maxwell sex trafficking trial has told The Independent that he voted to find Maxwell guilty of the majority of the charges against her because he believed the stories told by the victims and because he believed the pattern of abuse they all described.
Scotty David, who wishes to be identified by his first and middle name, told The Independent in his first media interview that he believed all of the victims who testified against Ghislaine Maxwell in her sex trafficking trial that took place in lower Manhattan over the last four weeks. All of the accusers corroborated each other and were backed up by other evidence, he said.
David said he is proud to be part of holding Maxwell accountable for her crimes.
“This verdict is for all the victims,” David told The Independent. “For those who testified, for those who came forward and for those who haven’t come forward. I’m glad that Maxwell has been held accountable.”
“This verdict shows that you can be found guilty no matter your status.”
David told The Independent that he found all of the accusers who testified to be believable and credible, despite the defence’s many attacks on their credibility and their attempts to poke holes in their memory.
“They were all believable. Nothing they said felt to me like a lie,” he said.
David knows that sometimes you can misremember small details of traumatic memories without ever doubting the core of the memory. He knows that because he is himself a survivor of sexual abuse.
“I know what happened when I was sexually abused. I remember the colour of the carpet, the walls. Some of it can be replayed like a video,” he said. He explained this to the jury.
“But I can’t remember all the details, there are some things that run together.”
So he knew that some misremembered details doesn’t mean the memory itself didn’t happen.
There were also questions from the jury about why the girls didn’t come forward earlier.
But David said he knows what that’s like, too. “I didn’t disclose my abuse until I was in high school,” he said.
The jury room went dead silent when he shared his story, he told The Independent.
David believes this helped the jury understand that it’s possible that these women were telling the truth.
You might forget some things, he said, but the core of a traumatic memory stays with you.
There were also questions about why the girls kept going back to Epstein and Maxwell, why they accepted their help.
“We are not here to judge these victims,” David told The Independent. “We are here to judge whether we believe their stories, but we are not here to judge the decisions they made or didn’t make.”
“We cannot judge what they did or didn’t do afterward,” he said. “It doesn’t change that it happened.”
David felt that the defence were continually attacking the accusers on the stand, and he said these attempts did little to change his mind.
At one point, the accuser testifying under the name “Carolyn” threw her binder of evidence down beside her because she was so distressed by the questioning she was being subjected to.
“It just made me feel more compassion for her,” David said.
The juror said that ultimately, the jury found that all the victims were credible.
The defence team focused strongly on its memory expert, Professor Elizabeth Loftus. Loftus testified about experiments that had been conducted in which researchers had successfully implanted a false memory into the mind of research subjects.
In one study, the researchers were able to change a detail of a memory about witnessing a car accident. They were able to convince participants that the scene featured a stop sign rather than a yield sign.
But that didn’t sway the jury either, David said.
“None of that relates to traumatic memory,” he said. Loftus said herself that she had never conducted a study on whether these tactics would work with memories of sexual abuse, David recalled.
And the accusers’ testimony was corroborated by a significant amount of evidence, David said.
He specifically mentioned Kate – an accuser who testified but was not allowed to be considered for the actual charges because she was over the age of consent in the UK when she was abused – and said her testimony powerfully corroborated the other accusers’ stories.
“She was able to show us that this was a pattern,” David said. “We knew we couldn’t use her testimony to convict Maxwell, but she showed the pattern of how those girls were groomed.”
“She showed us the pattern that happened to all of these girls.”
“It was about confusing their boundaries,” he said. “For Jane, it started with seeing Maxwell topless. For Annie Farmer, it started with Maxwell showing her how to give Epstein a foot massage.”
“The pattern is that Ghislaine talks to you like she is also a teenager. Then it moves into massage. She tries to make you comfortable, to see what they can get away with.”
“What she did was wrong.”
Annie Farmer’s story was backed up by her teenage diary, as well as her high school boyfriend. That was important to the jury, he said.
Carolyn’s story was backed up by Shawn, her ex-boyfriend who testified that he used to drive her to Epstein’s Palm Beach mansion.
Jane’s story was backed up by her high school boyfriend, who remembered being told about Epstein when they were younger.
The accuser’s stories were backed up by flight logs which placed Jane on at least one flight with Maxwell, David said.
Their stories were backed up by Maxwell’s “little black book” – an address book found in Epstein’s home that listed the names of “masseuses” including Jane and Carolyn.
David said the little black book also gave the jurors clues about how Maxwell and Epstein had evaded accountability in the past. There were names of several Palm Beach police officers listed on a first-name basis in that book, David said.
“Those girls’ names and phone numbers were listed next to the words “mom” and “dad”,” he said. “Professional masseuses do not need their parents with them.”
Many speculated that the jury chose to acquit Maxwell on count two because that count related solely to Jane, and that Jane was less credible than other victims.
But David told The Independent that wasn’t the case.
“We simply didn’t see enough direct evidence to convict on count two,” he said. “It wasn’t about not believing Jane.”
Count two was a substantive charge that required proof that Maxwell “enticed” Jane to travel across state lines. David said there just wasn’t any direct evidence for any specific trip that Maxwell took any action to entice Jane to get on those flights.
“I personally was willing to find her guilty on count two,” he said. “But we all decided in the end that there wasn’t enough evidence.”
David also explained that he was convinced by the closeness of Maxwell and Epstein’s relationship and the key role she played in his life.
“Of course she knew what was going on,” he said.
The schedule for Maxwell’s sentencing hearing has not yet been set.