The U.K.’s Prince Andrew’s name has been making headlines again after convicted sex offender and billionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein was charged with sex trafficking dozens of underage girls.
The charges, which were revealed on Monday, accused the 66-year-old businessman of luring girls as young as 14 to visit his mansion in Manhattan and estate in Palm Beach, Fla., for sexual acts in exchange for money.
According to the Associated Press, Epstein’s charges come more than a decade after he secretly cut a deal with federal prosecutors for similar allegations.
The billionaire has been linked to several powerhouses, including former President Bill Clinton and current U.S. President Donald Trump. But Epstein has also been connected to one member of the royal family: the Duke of York.
Relationship with Epstein and allegations
The Guardian previously reported that Prince Andrew and Epstein had been friends in the ’90s and would party together in destinations like Saint-Tropez, Thailand and New York City.
In 2015, a woman named Virginia Roberts Giuffre who accused Epstein of making her a “sex slave” alleged she was forced to have sexual relations with the Duke of York several times, the site continued. The accusation was filed in a Florida court in connection to a longtime lawsuit against Epstein.
Giuffre claimed that between 1999 and 2002, she was sexually abused by Epstein, who also “loaned her” to rich men around the world. The court documents found Giuffre, who was underage at the time in the U.S., had sexual relations with Prince Andrew in London, New York City and on a Caribbean island owned by Epstein.
Buckingham Palace released a statement denying all allegations against the prince.
The palace said the accusations were “false and without any foundation,” the BBC reported, and Prince Andrew did not have “any form of sexual contact or relationship with Virginia Roberts.”
Later that year during a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Prince Andrew broke his silence over the allegations himself.
“I just wish to reiterate and to reaffirm the statements which have already been made on my behalf by Buckingham Palace,” he said. “My focus is on my work.”
After the palace’s initial statement, Giuffre said the palace’s denial was false and hurtful, the BBC reported.
“I did have sexual contact with him as I have described here – under oath. Given what he knows and has seen, I was hoping that he would simply voluntarily tell the truth about everything. I hope my attorneys can interview Prince Andrew under oath about the contacts and that he will tell the truth.”
Giuffre alleged that in 2001, after having sexual relations with the prince, she told Epstein what happened.
“It was horrible to have to recount all these events and have to try to meet all these needs and wants. I told Epstein about Andy’s [Prince Andrew’s] sexual interests in feet. Epstein thought it was very funny. Epstein appeared to be collecting private information about Andy,” Giuffre told the site, adding that the billionaire paid her $15,000.
“That money was for what I had done and to keep my mouth shut about ‘working’ with the prince,” she said.
Neither Prince Andrew nor Buckingham Palace has released a statement following Epstein’s latest charges.
Epstein heads to court
The Associated Press added that prosecutors said evidence against Epstein earlier this week included thousands of lewd photographs of young women or girls.
Authorities also found phone records and papers that corroborated the alleged crimes and a massage room in his New York home.
Epstein’s lawyers argued his sex-crime allegations are “ancient” and had originally been settled in 2008 with a plea agreement in Florida. It was overseen by former U.S. attorney Alexander Acosta, who is currently Trump’s labour secretary.
Epstein was arrested Saturday and arrived in the U.S. from Paris before arriving in court on Monday. He waits for a bail hearing next Monday.
— with files from AP, Laura Hensley
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