Epstein accuser Virginia Giuffre sues Prince Andrew over sex abuse
A US woman who alleges she was brought to the UK aged 17 to have sex with the Duke of York has filed a civil case in New York claiming he abused her.
Virginia Giuffre, who was an accuser of convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, claims she was sexually assaulted by Prince Andrew in London and New York.
A spokeswoman for Prince Andrew, 61, said there was “no comment” on the case, which was filed under New York’s Child Victims Act.
He has consistently denied the claims.
The case alleges the prince sexually abused Ms Giuffre – then known as Virginia Roberts – at the London home of Epstein associate Ghislaine Maxwell, and at Epstein’s homes in Manhattan and Little St James in the US Virgin Islands.
It claims the prince engaged in sexual acts without her consent, knowing how old she was and “that she was a sex-trafficking victim”.
The case also says the “extreme and outrageous conduct” continues to cause Ms Giuffre, now 38, “significant emotional and psychological distress and harm”.
“In this country no person, whether president or prince, is above the law, and no person, no matter how powerless or vulnerable, can be deprived of the law’s protection,” the documents read.
“Twenty years ago Prince Andrew’s wealth, power, position, and connections enabled him to abuse a frightened, vulnerable child with no one there to protect her. It is long past the time for him to be held to account.”
Speaking about Ms Giuffre’s allegations in 2019, Prince Andrew said they “never happened”.
“It didn’t happen. I can absolutely categorically tell you it never happened. I have no recollection of ever meeting this lady, none whatsoever,” he told BBC Newsnight.
In a later statement, Prince Andrew said: “I continue to unequivocally regret my ill-judged association with Jeffrey Epstein.
“His suicide has left many unanswered questions, particularly for his victims, and I deeply sympathise with everyone who has been affected and wants some form of closure.
“I can only hope that, in time, they will be able to rebuild their lives. Of course, I am willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations, if required.”
Ms Giuffre’s legal action is a civil case filed by a private party for monetary damages, as opposed to a criminal case filed by the state.
Arick Fudali, a partner at New York legal firm Bloom, which has represented nine of Epstein’s victims, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that “very few” of such cases ended up going to trial but there was a “small chance” this could.
The alternatives are that it is settled beforehand, it is struck out by a judge, or the complainant ceases the action.
Melissa Murray, professor of law at New York University, said Prince Andrew “could be on the hook for significant money damages”.
“This is not about whether or not Prince Andrew will go to jail – he has no criminal exposure from this particular case,” she told the BBC.
Asked how likely it was that the case would to go to trial, she said Prince Andrew’s team would probably be more worried that it comes at a “really unfortunate time”, as Ms Maxwell is due to stand trial in November.
She has pleaded not guilty to federal charges that she conspired with Epstein in the abuse of four under-age girls.
Prof Murray said: “With this civil suit pending and her about to go to trial on these criminal charges, there may be even more pressure – and indeed temptation – for her to co-operate with federal prosecutors and perhaps provide more information about all of the individuals who were in the orbit of Jeffrey Epstein and that could, allegedly, include the prince himself.” BBC News