The Royal Family’s reputation has been battered and bruised over the Harry and Meaghan dramas, but this may be a small issue compared to their next challenge as Prince Andrew faces a devastating legal challenge.
Virginia Louise Giuffre, who was heavily featured in Netflix’s series on the late Jeffrey Epstein, is suing the Prince, according to The Associated Press, alleging she was sexually abused by him as a 17 year-old. She claims the abuse took place at Epstein’s mansion in Manhattan and at other locations in 2001, when she was under the age of 18.
“Today my attorney filed suit against Prince Andrew for sexual abuse under the Child Victims Act, her statement reads. “As the suit lays out in detail, I was trafficked to him and sexually abused by him.
“I am holding Prince Andrew accountable for what he did to me. 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. 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.”
Giuffre, who is now based in Australia and has founded the US nonprofit organization Victims Refuse Silence, was widely featured in interviews with American and British media describing her alleged experiences of being trafficked by Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell, to individuals including Prince Andrew, Alan Dershowitz, and Jean-Luc Brunel.
Giuffre, 38, been the most outspoken of the women who were interviewed over their involvement with Epstein and has pursued criminal and civil actions against both he and Maxwell, appealing directly to the public for justice and awareness. She sued Maxwell for defamation in 2015, and the case was reportedly settled in Giuffre’s favor for an undisclosed sum in 2017.
On July 2, 2019, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ordered the unsealing of documents from the earlier civil suit by Giuffre against Maxwell. The first batch of documents from Giuffre’s suit were released to the public on August 9, 2019, further implicating Epstein, Maxwell, and a number of his associates. The following day, on August 10, 2019, Epstein was found dead in his Manhattan prison cell.
Now, Giuffre is focusing on Prince Andrew, alleging sexual abuse under the Child Victims Act. Giuffre is seeking damages for battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress in the civil complaint, which was filed by her attorney in federal court New York on Monday.
Giuffre described her alleged experiences of being sex trafficked by Epstein to Prince Andrew in an October 2019 interview for the BBC’s Panorama which aired on December 2, 2019. She urged “I implore the people in the UK to stand up beside me, to help me fight this fight, to not accept this as being OK.”
Combined with Prince Andrew’s own poorly received Newsnight interview with the BBC that aired in November 2019, Giuffre’s direct appeal helped to shift public opinion in favor of plaintiffs.
Giuffre currently resides with her family in Australia.