Prince Andrew responded on Saturday to swirling allegations about his association with accused child sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, claiming he is “at a loss to be able to understand or explain” his deceased friend’s “lifestyle.”
The Duke of York said he was “eager to clarify the facts to avoid further speculation,” but the royal claimed to be in the dark about any of the jet-setting financier’s alleged sex crimes involving underage girls, despite a friendship spanning two decades and despite repeated visits to Epstein’s various homes and flights on his planes. And he denies any wrongdoing himself too.
“At no stage during the limited time I spent with him did I see, witness, or suspect any behavior of the sort that subsequently led to his arrest and conviction,” Prince Andrew said Saturday.
Epstein was indicted in early July on charges involving the exploitation and abuse of dozens of minor girls at his homes in Manhattan, New York, and Palm Beach, Florida, among other locations, between 2002 and 2005 and perhaps beyond. Prosecutors said Epstein enticed and recruited minor girls to engage in sex acts with him and built a “vast network of underage victims.”
He was found unresponsive in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center early in the morning of Aug. 10 and was declared dead at a local NYC hospital shortly thereafter. The chief medical examiner said Epstein’s death was the result of a suicide by hanging.
“This is a difficult time for everyone involved,” the 59-year-old son of Queen Elizabeth II said. “I deplore the exploitation of any human being and would not condone, participate in, or encourage any such behavior.”
Prince Andrew said on Saturday that he met Epstein in 1999. He is alleged to have been introduced to Epstein by Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein’s longtime associate and on-again, off-again girlfriend, who is alleged in civil lawsuits to have helped Epstein carry out his criminal activities, according to numerous victims.
Epstein’s suicide came the day after 2,000 pages of court records were unsealed related to the defamation lawsuit brought by Epstein accuser Virginia Giuffre against Maxwell.
Giuffre accused Maxwell of helping Epstein abuse her and others when Giuffre was underage. The records included allegations by Giuffre that Maxwell instructed her to have sex with high-profile figures and claims by her that Epstein paid her to have sex with Prince Andrew. The royal denies these accusations.
A photo from 2001 that was released through court files earlier in August shows Prince Andrew with his arm wrapped around the waist of Giuffre at a party when she was just 17 years old. Maxwell is smiling in the background of the picture.
Giuffre claims she also met Prince Andrew in the U.S. Virgin Islands, London, and New York in 2001 by flying there on Epstein’s plane. Flight logs and other reporting suggest that Prince Andrew may have been near those locations at the same time.
Prince Andrew sought to downplay how often he and Epstein visited each other, claiming Saturday that he saw Epstein “infrequently” and “probably no more than only once or twice a year.” Prince Andrew did admit that he had “stayed in a number of his residences.” Epstein had a lavish apartment in Paris, a ranch in New Mexico, an estate in Palm Beach, islands in the Caribbean, and a mansion in Manhattan.
Footage recently surfaced of Prince Andrew waving goodbye to a young woman leaving Epstein’s New York abode in 2010 — after Epstein’s prior conviction for solicitation of an underage prostitute, his sweetheart deal in 2008, and his short jail stint in Palm Beach County, which including work release in 2009 and early 2010.
“I have said previously that it was a mistake and an error to see him after his release in 2010,” Prince Andrew wrote. “And I can only reiterate that I was mistaken to think that what I thought I knew of him was evidently not the real person, given what we now know.”
In 2011, Prince Andrew stepped down after a decade as the U.K.’s special representative for trade after his continued friendship with Epstein was made public.
Prince Andrew said Saturday that Epstein’s suicide “has left many unanswered questions” and said he sympathized with anyone who “wants some form of closure.”
The FBI and DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz are both conducting outside reviews of the circumstances surrounding Epstein’s death, and the Bureau of Prisons is also conducting an “After Action Review” and a “Suicide Reconstruction Review” as well.
Attorney General William Barr has vowed that the investigation into Epstein’s alleged international sex trafficking conspiracy will continue and that any co-conspirators “should not rest easy.”
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