For those not familiar with the sex scandal currently swirling around Prince Andrew: On Jan. 2, news broke that he was accused of having sex with a teenager between 1999 and 2002. The allegations, in a recent civil court filing in Florida, are part of a bizarre, complicated and long-running lawsuit involving his old friend, American billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, who was convicted in 2008 of soliciting prostitution of a minor. The motion claims the minor “was forced to have sexual relations with this prince when she was a minor in three separate geographical locations.” Andrew isn’t charged with any offence, nor is he the defendant of any lawsuit. His name was included in the information part of a court filing, as was that of Harvard law professor and defence lawyer Alan Dershowitz. Both Buckingham Palace and Dershowitz have issued strong denials of the allegations. My previous post explains the long, complicated backstory to the current furor.
More allegations, which are unproven as of now, have come to light in the legal documents of the women who claim they were sexually abused by Epstein. The Telegraph reports: The duke of York’s former friend Jeffrey Epstein used “aggressive witness tampering” on employees who later refused to answer questions about whether the duke slept with underage girls, according to U.S. investigators. Epstein is also said to have bankrolled the legal fees of witnesses who invoked their right to silence to avoid answering whether young girls were “provided for sex” to the duke. Lawyers representing women who were [allegedly] sexually abused by Epstein have complained bitterly that it became “impossible” to gather evidence from vital witnesses because so many of them had legal representation paid for by Epstein, a billionaire investment banker.
Meanwhile, Dershowitz went to court Monday, telling Reuters: “We file a sworn declaration categorically denying the charges and proving by records and other travel documents that I could not have been in the places that she says that she had sex with me.” He’s accused of having sex with underage women on the personal jet of Jeffrey Epstein, as well as on the billionaire financier’s private island.
Dershowitz, like Prince Andrew, isn’t a party to the current civil lawsuit in Florida. The accusations against the American lawyer and the royal came in the evidentiary part of a filing at the end of the year. Indeed, the women, and their lawyers, have demanded Dershowitz show evidence that would refute their claims. Now Dershowitz wants to get involved in the legal case, further telling Reuters: “We file a motion to intervene in the court and then we file a defamation action against the two lawyers and the woman. And then we file disbarment proceedings against the two lawyers.”
Meanwhile, Andrew’s ex-wife, Sarah, issued a robust defence of him yesterday. “He is the greatest man there is,” she said from her holiday at the Swiss ski resort of Vebier. “It was the finest moment of my life in 1986 when I married him. He is a great man, the best man in the world.”
Even London’s mayor, Boris Johnson, spoke up on the issue, telling LBC Radio: “Prince Andrew, let’s be very clear, is a guy who does a huge amount of unsung, unheralded work for this country. People, they go on and and about the air miles and so on. Actually I have seen that guy get out there and sell this country, try and help British firms to get business around the world. He does a huge amount of good and a huge amount of hard work. So if you are asking me whether I have sympathy for him, of course I do.”
Meanwhile lawyers are meeting with Prince Andrew to map out how to handle the allegations, and whether he should scale back his royal duties—he’s expected to be at the economic forum at Davos in two weeks. There’s also the fact the scandal has been going on for seven years, so there’s every likelihood his name will be in the headlines for a long time.