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18th Sep 2022

Prince Andrew’s return to public life condemned by Jeffrey Epstein victims

April Curtin

ASCOT, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 27: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 24 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Prince Andrew, Duke of York attends the QIPCO King George Weekend at Ascot Racecourse on July 27, 2019 in Ascot, England. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)

Andrew continued to associate with Epstein long after the sex offender pleaded guilty

Prince Andrew‘s return to public life following the Queen’s death is “beyond shameful” according to lawyers who represented victims of Jeffrey Epstein – and it could prove triggering for Epstein survivors.

The Duke of York has had a much more visible role following his mother’s death, which has seen him at the progress of the Queen’s coffin through Edinburgh, and at a vigil in London’s Westminster Hall. He was even dressed in full Navy attire, despite being stripped of his royal titles by the Queen, and has been appointed one of King Charles’s five counsellors of state, who stand in for the king when he is unwell or out of the UK.

Andrew withdrew from public life after he was accused of forcing Virginia Giuffre to have sex with him when she was 17, which is under the age of consent under Florida Law. Giuffre said she was the victim of sex trafficking and abuse by billionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein from the age of 16, and claimed Epstein and his accomplice Ghislaine Maxwell coerced her into sexual encounters with Andrew.

Prince Andrew continues to strongly deny the claims, but the Queen still stripped him of his ‘His Royal Highness’ title in January. Now, Andrew’s sudden reappearance could prove triggering for Epstein survivors, lawyers and campaigners have argued.

Mariann Wang, who represented more than a dozen Epstein survivors, told The Guardian it was “beyond shameful” to see Andrew given any state-sponsored privilege, given his past affiliation with Jeffrey Epstein, who pleaded guilty to solicitation of a minor for prostitution in 2008.

Andrew continued to associate with Epstein long after he pleaded guilty.

Spencer T Kuvin, who represented more than half a dozen Epstein victims, said these women have been “disgusted and appalled” at Andrew’s friendship with Epstein for a long time, even after stories emerged about what Epstein had done to multiple women.

The lawyer described Andrew’s continued relationship with Epstein as “the epitome of poor judgment and, frankly, an embarrassment to the crown”.

While Andrew’s sexual assault allegations first emerged in 2015, they largely fell under the spotlight in 2019, when Epstein was charged with sex trafficking, before being found dead in his cell.

A disastrous BBC interview later saw Andrew claim he could not have had sex with Giuffre because he was at home after a visit to Pizza Express in Woking, that her description of his dancing with her could not be true because he was unable to sweat, and that he had “no recollection of ever meeting this lady”.

A date was set for Andrew to give evidence under oath in March, but in February, he reached a £12 million out-of-court settlement with Giuffre, in which he agreed to make the substantial donation to her and her victims charity. The Queen is also understood to have contributed to the charity donation.

Prince Andrew accepted that Giuffre “suffered as an established victim of abuse”, but admitted no admission of liability and continues to strongly deny the claims.

Aurore DeCarlo, senior partner at the law firm CA Goldberg, which specialises in victims’ rights work, said seeing Prince Andrew returning to public life could have “significant negative consequences” for victims who want to speak out about abuse.

The Guardian contacted Prince Andrew’s representative who declined to comment.

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