Prince Andrew, second son of Queen Elizabeth II, faces the prospect of a civil trial in the United States. New York judge Lewis Kaplan ruled on Wednesday, January 12, in favor of the arguments of the plaintiff, Virginia Giuffre, who accuses the Duke of York, 61, of having sexually abused her three times in 2001, while ‘she was still a minor (17 years old). This decision damages the reputation of the prince a little more and constitutes a blow for the British royal family, who would have preferred to devote the year 2022 to the celebration of the platinum jubilee of the sovereign (70 years of reign), rather than to a great judicial unpacking with worldwide media resonance.
Virginia Giuffre (née Roberts) says she was forced into sex with the prince in London, New York and the Caribbean by American sex criminal Jeffrey Epstein (a friend of the prince, who committed suicide in prison in 2019) and his associate Ghislaine Maxwell, convicted at the end of 2021 of sex trafficking of teenage girls.
The Duke of York has always denied these allegations. In recent months, his lawyers have tried to prevent a trial, their last attempt being the evocation of a clause, in an amicable agreement signed in 2009 between Mr. Epstein and Virginia Roberts, which, according to them , prevented the latter from prosecuting people other than the American financier for sexual assault. Judge Kaplan did not accept their arguments. His decision is subject to appeal.
Andrew’s highly questionable friendships with Jeffrey Epstein came to light with the publication in 2010 of a photograph of the prince walking alongside the American in New York’s Central Park after the latter served a sentence jail for sexual assault. In another photograph, published in 2011 and now famous, the prince holds Virginia Roberts by the waist alongside Ghislaine Maxwell (it was taken in the London residence of the latter, in March 2001). Other snaps were posted over the water, showing that Andrew had no hesitation in bringing Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell into the heart of royal circles. They were even invited to Balmoral, the very private summer residence of the Windsors in Aberdeenshire, Scotland.
The prince chose to break his silence on these sulphurous relations during a long interview on the BBC’s “NewsNight” program at the end of 2019. The result was catastrophic: not only did he show no compassion for the victims of Mr. Esptein nor expressed any regret for having frequented this sexual aggressor for so long, but the explanations he gave for denying sexual relations with Virginia Roberts were surprising.
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Epstein case: new legal setback for Prince Andrew, under the threat of a civil lawsuit