Buckingham Palace doesn’t often comment on scandalous accusations against members of the royal family. But a new set of allegations against Prince Andrew — the second son of Queen Elizabeth — has prompted two separate denials from the typically reticent palace.
In American court documents filed last week as part of an existing lawsuit, Andrew is accused of participating in a “sex ring” of underage women run by Jeffrey Epstein, who served time after pleading guilty to a Florida prostitution solicitation charge in 2008.
The second palace denial, issued Sunday to several British outlets, even included the name of the victim, who voiced her allegations anonymously (as “Jane Doe #3”) in the court filing.
“It is emphatically denied that HRH The Duke of York had any form of sexual contact or relationship with [the alleged victim],” the statement said. “The allegations made are false and without any foundation.”
The victim was also named in multiple British media reports on the allegation, including in a Daily Mail piece published Sunday, based on interviews with the alleged victim conducted about a year ago. The detailed Mail piece appears to have prompted the palace’s second, stronger denial. (The Washington Post generally does not identify victims of sexual assault without their permission.)
On Friday, the palace stated that “any suggestion of impropriety with underage minors is categorically untrue” and said that the palace “would not comment in detail” on the new allegations.
With the controversy swirling, Prince Andrew has returned to the United Kingdom from a skiing holiday in Switzerland.
The new court filing marks the first time Andrew’s name has appeared as an alleged abuser of the women who say they were forced to have sex with Epstein’s wealthy and powerful friends.
In 2008, two anonymous alleged victims filed suit, accusing the U.S. government of violating a victims’ rights statute by failing to consult with them before signing off on a plea deal. The deal allowed Epstein to avoid potential federal charges stemming from an investigation into allegations that the powerful figure abused dozens of underage girls at his Palm Beach mansion.
Last week’s court filing is a motion to expand that suit to include two additional victims — Jane Does #3 and #4. It’s Jane Doe #3 who accuses Prince Andrew of abusing her in three separate locations: at the London apartment of British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell; during an “orgy” on Epstein’s island in the U.S. Virgin Islands; and in New York.
“Epstein instructed Jane Doe #3 that she was to give the Prince whatever he demanded and required Jane Doe #3 to report back to him on the details of the sexual abuse,” the document says. Maxwell is a friend of Epstein’s who is named as a co-conspirator in the suit.
In the wake of those accusations, more details have emerged. Over the weekend, the Mail published an old photograph of Andrew and the alleged victim, allegedly taken when the victim was 17. And the victim’s father initially told the paper that his daughter met the queen while in London with Epstein, a statement he later retracted. (The palace told Reuters it had “no record of such a meeting.”)
Andrew maintained a well-documented friendship with Epstein until as late as 2011, after Epstein finished a 13-month prison term on the prostitution charge. That friendship previously prompted the Duke of York to deny having sexual contact with any members of Epstein’s sex ring.
Another person named in the suit has also aggressively denied the allegations of the same woman: Attorney Alan Dershowitz, who last week promised to file charges against the lawyers who signed the court documents containing similar allegations against him.
(One of the two lawyers, Paul G. Cassell, writes for the Volokh Conspiracy, an independent blog hosted by The Washington Post.)
Dershowitz later told the BBC that he wanted to “bring charges against the client and require her to speak in court,” adding: “If she believes she has been hurt by me and Prince Andrew, she should be suing us for damages.”
“You cannot allow these false allegations simply to remain out there, and you cannot allow people who make false allegations to have the freedom to continue to make them,” Dershowitz added.
The current lawsuit does not name Dershowitz or Prince Andrew as a party; instead, it challenges the U.S. government’s handling of Epstien’s plea deal.
The latest filing also states that Epstein allegedly trafficked the victims to “many other powerful men, including numerous prominent American politicians, powerful business executives, foreign presidents, a well-known prime minister, and other world leaders.”
Jane Doe #3 spoke, via her lawyers, to the Guardian about the response to the allegations, saying: “These types of aggressive attacks on me are exactly the reason why sexual abuse victims typically remain silent and the reason why I did for a long time. That trend should change. I’m not going to be bullied back into silence.”
[this post has been updated]