Content Warning: This article about Prince Andrew discusses sexual abuse. If you or someone you know is affected by the following story, you are not alone. To speak to someone, you can call Lifeline on 13 11 14, or 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732.
An alleged victim of the late sex offender Jeffrey Epstein has filed a lawsuit against Prince Andrew, accusing him of sexual abuse.
Virginia Roberts Giuffre, now 38, has alleged that Prince Andrew sexually abused her at Epstein’s New York mansion and at other locations in 2001 when she was under the age of 18.
Giuffre, who has repeatedly spoken out about the alleged sex trafficking crimes committed by Epstein and his co-accused, Ghislaine Maxwell, filed the lawsuit in federal court in New York this week.
As reported by News.com.au, she is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.
“Twenty years ago, Prince Andrew’s wealth, power, position and connections enabled him to abuse a frightened, vulnerable child with no one there to protect her. It is long past the time for him to be held to account,” the lawsuit states.
“I am holding Prince Andrew accountable for what he did to me. The powerful and the 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 one can reclaim her life by speaking out and demanding justice,” Giuffre added through her lawyers in a statement to ABC News.
“I did not come to this decision lightly. As a mother and a wife, my family comes first. I know that this action will subject me to further attacks by Prince Andrew and his surrogates. But I knew that if I did not pursue this action, I would be letting them and victims everywhere down.”
According to ABC News, the papers have been filed just days prior to the expiration date of a New York State law allowing alleged victims of childhood sexual abuse to file civil claims. Now that the law has expired, it is possible that future claims could now be blocked by statutes of limitations.
“If she doesn’t do it now, she would be allowing him to escape any accountability for his actions,” Giuffre’s lawyer, David Boies, told ABC News.
“Virginia is committed to trying to avoid situations where rich and powerful people escape any accountability for their actions,” Boies said.
The lawsuit was also filed just a day earlier than the two-year anniversary of Epstein’s death in custody when he was awaiting trial on child sex trafficking and conspiracy charges.
Prince Andrew has not yet publicly responded to the lawsuit, and previously denied the allegations.
“I’ve said consistently and frequently that we never had any sort of sexual contact whatever,” he said during a 2019 interview with the BBC.
He continued on to say that he “ceased contact” with Epstein after he became aware he was facing charges.
Meanwhile, Giuffre has previously settled two federal lawsuits she filed in connection with Epstein and Maxwell in 2009 and 2017 respectively.
Neither Epstein nor Maxwell admitted to any wrongdoing in either case.
The news follows the release of Netflix documentary Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich on May 27, 2020, and Ghislaine Maxwell: Epstein’s Shadow on June 24.