Epstein court files damage Prince Andrew’s hopes of restoring reputation | Prince Andrew

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  • Post published:January 4, 2024
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The release of court documents relating to the late paedophile financier Jeffrey Epstein reduces any hopes the Duke of York had of rehabilitating his reputation.

The accusations against Andrew, from groping a woman’s breast in an alleged encounter involving a puppet of the prince, to claims he had sex with an underage Virginia Giuffre, are given fresh airing.

The documents, the first of a tranche to be unsealed on the order of Judge Loretta Preska, were gathered for Giuffre’s 2015 defamation case against Epstein’s former girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell. The socialite is said to have introduced Andrew to the financier, and is serving 20 years in a US prison for conspiring with Epstein to sexually abuse minors.

In one witness statement, Johanna Sjoberg claimed Andrew groped her at Epstein’s house in New York in 2001 when she was aged 20, with Maxwell and Giuffre also present.

Her statement, previously partly revealed, alleges Maxwell had shown them a puppet of Andrew. “And they decided to take a picture with it, in which Virginia and Andrew sat on a couch. They put the puppet on Virginia’s lap and I sat on Andrew’s lap, and they put the puppet’s hand on Virginia’s breast, and Andrew put his hand on my breast, and they took a photo,” Sjoberg’s deposition said.

Asked about the seating arrangements, she said: “Whether we were on a couch or a chair, I just remember the boobs part, the hand on the boobs.”

Buckingham Palace previously said her allegations were “categorically untrue”.

Another filing regarding a Jane Doe #3, which is believed to be Giuffre, alleges she was “forced to have sexual relations with this prince when she was a minor in three separate geographical locations: in London (at Ghislaine Maxwell’s apartment), in New York, and on Epstein’s private island in the US Virgin Islands (in an orgy with numerous other underaged girls)”. Epstein instructed her to “give the prince whatever he demanded and required Jane Doe #3 to report back to him on the details of the sexual abuse”.

Giuffre has alleged she was trafficked by Epstein and Maxwell and forced to have sexual intercourse at these same three locations with Andrew when aged 17, which is underage in the US, claims Andrew has categorically denied.

The documents also show Maxwell’s fear of being questioned over her links with Andrew. Shortly after a civil claim had been filed against her, she wrote in an email to her lawyer in January 2015: “I am out of my depth to understanding defamation and other legal hazards and don’t want to end up in a lawsuit aimed at me from anyone if I can help it. Apparently even saying Virginia is a lier [sic] has hazard! I have never been in a suit criminal or civil and want it to stay that way.”

She added: “I have already suffered such a terrible and painful loss over the last few days that I can’t even see what life after press he’ll [sic] even looks like – statements that don’t address all just lead to more questions … what is my relationship to Clinton? Andrew on and on.”

In her deposition, Maxwell said she had once been on Epstein’s Caribbean island when Andrew visited. But she said: “There were no girls on the island. No girls, no women, other than the staff who work at the house. Girls meaning – I assume you are asking underage – but there was nobody female outside of the cooks and the cleaners.”

Andrew has denied any wrongdoing, including in his settlement with Giuffre in 2022. In that settlement he said he “regrets his association with Epstein, and commends the bravery of Ms Giuffre and other survivors in standing up for themselves and others”.

Buckingham Palace declined to comment on the documents as Andrew is no longer a working royal. In a previous statement about links to Epstein, the palace said Andrew “deplores the exploitation of any human being and the suggestion he would condone, participate in or encourage any such behaviour is abhorrent”.

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