Virginia Giuffre sues Prince Andrew for alleged sex abuse

Giuffre, an Epstein accuser who says she was abused at 17, says she is holding Andrew ‘accountable for what he did to me’.

A new lawsuit directly confronts the UK's Prince Andrew over allegations he sexually abused Virginia Giuffre when she was 17. [File: Chris Jackson/The Associated Press]

An American woman who alleges she was brought to the United Kingdom as a teenager to be sexually assaulted by Prince Andrew is suing the royal family member, taking accusations that she has repeated publicly to a formal venue.

On Monday, lawyers for Virginia Giuffre, an accuser of Jeffrey Epstein, filed the lawsuit in Manhattan federal court, where the US financier was charged criminally with sex trafficking in 2019.

He killed himself a month later, at age 66, as he awaited trial in federal jail next to the court.

Andrew has acknowledged his friendship with Epstein and said he stayed in his properties, but denies Giuffre’s accusations of sexual assault.

Giuffre claims Epstein trafficked her to the prince when she was 17.

In a statement on Monday, Giuffre said she was “holding Prince Andrew accountable for what he did to me”.

“The powerful and rich are not exempt from being held responsible for their actions. I hope that other victims will see that it is possible not to live in silence and fear, but to reclaim one’s life by speaking out and demanding justice,” Giuffre said.

Giuffre addressed reporters after Epstein’s jailhouse death in New York City [File: Bebeto Matthews/AP Photo]

“I did not come to this decision lightly,” she added. “As a mother and a wife, my family comes first – and I know that this action will subject me to further attacks by Prince Andrew and his surrogates – but I knew if I did not pursue this action, I would be letting them and victims everywhere down.”

Giuffre has said she was a victim of Epstein’s sex trafficking and abuse from 2000 to 2002, starting at age 16.

In her complaint, Giuffre said Andrew forced her to have sexual intercourse at the London home of Epstein’s longtime associate Ghislaine Maxwell, a British socialite who is currently awaiting trial on federal charges related to the alleged sex trafficking.

Giuffre said Andrew also abused her at Epstein’s mansion on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, and on a private island that Epstein owned in the US Virgin Islands.

The complaint said Giuffre “was compelled by express or implied threats” by Epstein, Maxwell or Andrew to engage in sexual acts with Andrew, fearing repercussions for disobedience “due to their powerful connections, wealth, and authority”.

The lawsuit, brought under the Child Victims Act, a 2019 New York State law that allows victims to temporarily make legal claims of abuse that occurred when they were children regardless of when or how long ago the alleged abuse took place, seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

‘Categorical’ denial

Andrew did not immediately respond to the lawsuit, but previously denied having sex with Giuffre in a November 2019 BBC news interview.

“I can absolutely categorically tell you it never happened,” he said at the time, adding he had “no recollection” of ever meeting Giuffre and told an interviewer there are “a number of things that are wrong” about Giuffre’s account.

Soon after the interview, Andrew stepped down from royal duties as charities and other organisations distanced themselves from him.

Giuffre’s complaint also included a widely circulated photo of Giuffre and Andrew, both smiling, standing next to each other around the time of the alleged abuse.

In January 2020, US federal prosecutors said Andrew had not cooperated in the investigation into Epstein and his associates. Andrew’s lawyers said he had attempted to cooperate on several occasions.

Giuffre’s lawsuit was filed hours after the administrator of a fund to compensate Epstein’s victims said she had completed the payout process, giving more than $121m to about 138 people.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies