Prince Andrew has made his first public statement on allegations that he had sex with an underage girl while a guest of multi-millionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein.
Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Thursday, Andrew made his first public appearance after allegations that he forced a woman to have sexual relations with him when she was 17. It had been made known to the press that the Prince would address the rumours in the speech, but as expected, he remained tight-lipped.
“I wish to reiterate and reaffirm the statements already made on my behalf by Buckingham palace,” he said.
A woman, named by the Mail on Sunday as Virginia Roberts, has alleged in a US court document that she was repeatedly forced to have sexual intercourse with Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, The Guardian reports.
The woman filed the accusation against the prince, 54, in a motion at a Florida court earlier this month. It comes as part of a long-running lawsuit brought by women who say they were exploited by Epstein — a past friend of the Duke’s. Prince Andrew apparently broke off contact with the banker in 2011. It has been said that he knew about Epstein’s abuse.
The Palace has taken the highly unusual step of issuing two denials of the latest allegations. After they first emerged it issued a statement saying that “any suggestion of impropriety with under-age minors [by the duke]…was categorically untrue” and followed up by saying the accusations were “without any foundation.”
In 2008 Epstein agreed to a plea deal with prosecutors and pleaded guilty to soliciting an underage girl for prostitution, receiving an 18-month sentence. He served 13 months.
That plea deal is now at the centre of new developments in a long-running lawsuit. Back in July 2008, an appeal court ruled that the prosecutors in the case had failed to ensure that the victims were informed of the plea deal before it was agreed, in violation of the Crime Victims’ Rights Act (CVRA).
The Fifth Circuit court found that “the government should have fashioned a reasonable way to inform the victims of the likelihood of criminal charges and to ascertain the victims’ views on the possible details of a plea bargain.”
Two of the women involved in the original case are now seeking to join two others in a case against the US government alleging a violation of their rights under the CVRA. It’s in those court documents that a women alleges she was repeatedly forced to have sex with Prince Andrew, while considered underage in Florida, where the papers were filed.
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