Prince Andrew accuser files civil case in US

BY: bbc.com
Virginia Giuffre, then Roberts, was pictured with Prince Andrew in London in 2001
Virginia Giuffre, then Roberts, was pictured with Prince Andrew in London in 2001

A US woman who alleges she was brought to the UK aged 17 to have sex with the Duke of York has filed a civil case in New York claiming he abused her.

Virginia Giuffre, who was an accuser of convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, claims she was sexually assaulted by Prince Andrew in London and New York.

Prince Andrew, 61, has consistently denied Ms Giuffre's claims.

Ms Giuffre's case cites New York's Child Victims Act, which expanded victims' rights to sue alleged abusers.

The case claims the prince engaged in sexual acts without her consent, knowing how old she was and "that she was a sex-trafficking victim".

It says the "extreme and outrageous conduct" continues to cause Ms Giuffre, now 38, "significant emotional and psychological distress and harm".

"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," the documents read.

"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."

Speaking about Ms Giuffre's allegations in 2019, Prince Andrew said they "never happened".

"It didn't happen. I can absolutely categorically tell you it never happened. I have no recollection of ever meeting this lady, none whatsoever," he told BBC Newsnight.

In a later statement, Prince Andrew said: "I continue to unequivocally regret my ill-judged association with Jeffrey Epstein.

"His suicide has left many unanswered questions, particularly for his victims, and I deeply sympathise with everyone who has been affected and wants some form of closure.

"I can only hope that, in time, they will be able to rebuild their lives. Of course, I am willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations, if required."

The new legal complaint alleges that the prince and his representatives have rejected requests to provide "whatever facts, context or explanation he might have, and to explore alternative dispute resolution approaches".

The BBC has contacted Buckingham Palace and Prince Andrew's representatives for comment.

What is the Child Victims Act?

New York State's Child Victims Act was signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo in 2019.

It allowed survivors of childhood sexual abuse to file a case which had already been time-barred or expired, and gave them a year to do so.

That one-year window was then extended because of disruption to court services during the pandemic and ends this week, on 14 August.

Mr Cuomo called it a "pathway to justice" for people who allege they were abused when under-age and was intended to help "right wrongs that went unacknowledged and unpunished".

Meanwhile, an independent inquiry found this month that Mr Cuomo harassed multiple women. Mr Cuomo denied touching anyone inappropriately and vowed to stay in office.

The case alleges the prince sexually abused Ms Giuffre - then known as Virginia Roberts - at the London home of Epstein associate Ghislaine Maxwell, and at Epstein's homes in Manhattan and Little St James in the US Virgin Islands.

Ms Maxwell has pleaded not guilty to federal charges that she conspired with Epstein in the abuse of four under-age girls. She is due to stand trial in November.