One of Jeffrey Epstein’s long-time accusers is taking legal action against the Duke of York, saying he sexually assaulted her when she was 17 years old.
Lawyers for Virginia Giuffre filed the lawsuit against Prince Andrew in Manhattan federal court.
In a statement, Ms Giuffre said the lawsuit was brought under the Child Victims Act to allege she was trafficked to him and sexually abused by him.
“I am holding Prince Andrew accountable for what he did to me,” she said.
“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.”
“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.”
In 2019, the duke told BBC Newsnight that he never had sex with Ms Giuffre, saying: “It didn’t happen.”
He said he has “no recollection” of ever meeting her and told an interviewer there are “a number of things that are wrong” about Ms Giuffre’s account, which alleges the encounter occurred in 2001.
“I can absolutely categorically tell you it never happened,” Andrew said.
According to the lawsuit, the duke abused Ms Giuffre on multiple occasions when she was under the age of 18.
It said that on one occasion, the prince sexually abused her in London at the home of Ghislaine Maxwell.
On another occasion, the duke assaulted her in Epstein’s New York mansion, the lawsuit claimed.
The lawsuit also alleged that Andrew abused Ms Giuffre on Epstein’s private island in the US Virgin Islands.
During each of the alleged acts, Ms Giuffre was given “express or implied threats” by Epstein, Maxwell, and/or the duke, the lawsuit said.
It said that she “feared death or physical injury to herself or another and other repercussions for disobeying” the trio because of their “powerful connections, wealth, and authority”, the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit added that Andrew knew her age at the time based on communications with Epstein and Maxwell. It said he went ahead anyway “for the purpose of gratifying his sexual desires”.
Maxwell, 59, has pleaded not guilty to sex trafficking charges in Manhattan federal court, where she faces trial in November.
Epstein, 66, took his own life in a federal jail in Manhattan in August 2019, a month after he was arrested on sex trafficking charges.