Alleged victim of Jeffery Epstein, Virginia Giuffre, has begun legal action against Prince Andrew over allegations that he sexually assaulted her when she was a teenager.
The civil suit was filed by Giuffre’s lawyers at a federal court in New York on Monday, seeking unspecified damages and accusing The Duke of York of sexual assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Giuffre’s lawsuit stated: “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.
“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.”
Here is a breakdown of what the lawsuit is all about.
What does the lawsuit say?
Court documents claim Giuffre was “lent out for sexual purposes” by convicted sex offender Epstein, including while she was still a minor under US law.
The 15-page suit has been brought about under New York state’s Child Victims Act, with Andrew named as the only defendant, though Epstein and his former girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell are mentioned frequently throughout.
Giuffre alleged that Epstein and Maxwell made her have sex with Prince Andrew in 2001 on three separate occasions when she was under the age of 18, when she was known as Virginia Roberts,
She claimed that this took place in three different locations including Maxwell’s home in London, Epstein’s mansion in New York and on Epstein’s private island in the US Virgin Islands.
These claims have previously been strongly denied by Buckingham Palace..
“It is emphatically denied that [Prince Andrew] had any form of sexual contact or relationship with [Giuffre]. The allegations made are false and without any foundation,” the Palace statement said.
He denied claims that he slept with Giuffre on three separate occasions, and said: “I can absolutely categorically tell you it never happened. I have no recollection of ever meeting this lady, none whatsoever.”
In response to a well-known photograph of him with his arm around Ms Giuffre’s waist at Maxwell’s house, the duke said he had no memory of the picture being taken - and even questioned whether it was his own hand in the image.
“I don’t believe that photograph was taken in the way that has been suggested,” he said.
“I think it’s, from the investigations that we’ve done, you can’t prove whether or not that photograph is faked or not, because it is a photograph of a photograph of a photograph. So it’s very difficult to be able to prove it, but I don’t remember that photograph ever being taken.”
In the aftermath of the interview, Andrew received widespread criticism for his lack of empathy for Epstein’s victims and for appearing unapologetic over his friendship with Epstein.
Following on from this, Andrew quit his royal duties and publicly promised to co-operate with US authorities investigating Epstein’s crimes, though has since faced a war of words between his camp and American authorities over his availability to answer questions.
“In the right circumstances, yes I would... there’s just as much closure for me as there is for everybody else.”
Despite promising this, Giuffre’s legal action requesting a trial by jury was brought because the duke “stonewalled” requests to co-operate, according to court documents.
The court documents state: “Again Prince Andrew stonewalled—ignoring (the) Plaintiff’s letter and emails without any reply or response, thereby making this action necessary now.”
A spokesman for the duke said there was “no comment” when she was asked to respond to Giuffre’s legal action.
According to the Daily Mail, the Queen’s son was seen arriving at the royal Scottish retreat of Balmoral Castle on Tuesday evening and was thought to have been accompanied by his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson.
When did the allegations come about?
It was in 2014 when Giuffre first made allegations against Andrew in court filings, in a case brought by Epstein’s victims against the Department of Justice.
Who is Virginia Giuffre?
Virginia Giuffre, previously known as Virginia Roberts, is a justice advocate for sex trafficking victims.
In 2015, Giuffre set up a non-profit organisation Victims Refuse Silence for survivors of sexual abuse and sex trafficking.
The organisation’s aim is to “help survivors surmount the shame, silence, and intimidation typically experienced by victims of sexual abuse, and to help others to escape becoming victims of sex trafficking.”
She now lives in Australia with her husband and three children.
What is the Childhood Victims Act?
Giuffre’s 15-page suit has been brought under New York State’s Childhood Victims Act that was signed into law in 2019 by Governor Andrew Cuomo.
The law enabled survivors of childhood sexual abuse to file a case that had already been time-barred or expired within a one-year time frame.
Due to the pandemic disrupting court services, that one-year window was extended and ends on 14 August.
Could Prince Andrew be extradited to US?
The duke does not have to attend or give evidence in the civil proceedings in New York.
If the duke and his legal team do not engage in the civil proceedings, they are expected to continue without their input – with the court making its judgment in due course.
Andrew does not face the prospect of an extradition hearing as this only applies to criminal charges and not civil cases.
In June 2020, the then US attorney general William Barr said there were no plans to extradite the royal.
What happened to Epstein and Maxwell?
In August 2019, Epstein took his own life while in jail, just one month after he was arrested on sex trafficking charges.
Maxwell is currently in custody, awaiting her trial in November after pleading not guilty to sex trafficking charges in Manhattan federal court.