Woman claims she was raped as a teenager by Epstein in New York mansion while Prince Andrew was visiting

Lawsuit alleges victim met Duke of York at Epstein's mansion shortly before she was raped by the billionaire financier 

Richard Hall
New York
Friday 03 July 2020 19:17
Ghislaine Maxwell charged with multiple counts of sexual exploitation, US Attorney announces

Prince Andrew has been named in a federal lawsuit by a woman who claims the royal was present at Jeffrey Epstein’s New York mansion when she was raped by the late billionaire.

Caroline Kaufman, who was 17 years old at the time of the alleged offence in December 2010, says she was invited to Epstein’s Manhattan home by an associate for a “modelling interview”.

Ms Kaufman, now 26, alleges she was escorted to a massage room by an “older woman” who she believes to be Ghislaine Maxwell, where she was raped by Epstein.

“Kaufman was screaming for help during this encounter, but no one came to her rescue,” the lawsuit, filed on Thursday in the Southern District of New York, alleges.

Ms Kaufman does not claim that the Duke of York took part in the incident, only that he was present in Epstein’s Manhattan mansion beforehand.

“Upon entering Epstein’s Manhattan home, Kaufman was introduced to a number of people. One of these individuals to whom she was introduced within the Epstein mansion was Andrew Albert Christian Edward a/k/a Prince Andrew, Duke of York,” the lawsuit says.

The new claims are likely to raise further questions for the royal, who is already under increased scrutiny for his ties to the late billionaire following the arrest of his longtime friend and Epstein’s former girlfriend, Ms Maxwell, on Thursday.

Ms Maxwell was charged with multiple crimes related to the late billionaire’s abuse of minors – among them the transportation of a minor to engage in criminal sexual activity and conspiracy to entice minors to travel to engage in illegal sex acts. Her arrest came one year after Epstein himself was arrested and taken into custody in New York, where he killed himself.

When announcing the charges on Thursday, Audrey Strauss, the acting US attorney in the Southern District of New York, reiterated a call for the Duke of York to cooperate with US law enforcement in its investigation into Epstein’s abuse.

“We would welcome Prince Andrew coming in to talk to us, we would like to have the benefit of his statement,” she said at a press conference in Manhattan.

Prince Andrew was named in a previous civil case in 2015 by another of Epstein’s victims. Virginia Roberts – who later changed her name to Virginia Giuffre – said she was forced to have sex with the prince three times between 2001 and 2002, in various locations.

The prince has repeatedly denied that allegation, and of having any knowledge of Epstein’s abuse. Asked whether Prince Andrew intends to submit a statement following the US attorney’s remarks, a source close to the Duke’s legal team told The Independent that “the Duke’s team remains bewildered given that we have twice communicated with the DOJ in the last month, and to date, we have had no response”.

Prince Andrew’s legal representation and public relations team both refused to comment when asked by The Independent about Ms Kaufman’s claim that the two met at Epstein’s mansion in December 2010.

The new claim comes as a lawyer acting for dozens of Epstein’s alleged victims accused Prince Andrew of “deliberately evading authorities”.

Brad Edwards, who represents 55 women who claim they were abused by the disgraced financier, says he believes Andrew has information that could help US law enforcement with their investigation. In an interview with Sky News, Mr Edwards said he had contacted the prince “at least three times” but that the 60-year-old had not responded.

Representatives for Andrew have previously denied claims that he has not made himself available to the FBI for an interview.

Ms Kaufman’s lawsuit provides further insight into how Epstein and his associates groomed and abused young girls, and how the victims were intimidated into silence.

It names Susan Hamblin, who was employed by Epstein, as the person who set up the meeting at Epstein’s mansion. It alleges that Ms Hamblin approached Ms Kaufman at a horse show in Lake Placid in early 2010 and asked if she was a “model”.

“Hamblin then told Kaufman that her ‘boss’ could help Kaufman get into the modelling industry. During these conversations, Kaufman made clear to Hamblin that she was only 16 years old at that time,” the lawsuit says.

Ms Kaufman says she met Prince Andrew shortly after arriving at Epstein’s Manhattan mansion some time in December 2010. The prince’s visit came two years after Epstein’s conviction for soliciting a minor for prostitution.

Prince Andrew was pictured with Epstein in the same time period that Ms Kaufman alleges the assault took place. When later questioned about his visit to Epstein at the time, Prince Andrew said he went to “put an end to the friendship”.

“After a short period of time, Kaufman was escorted to a private area and told to completely undress for an older woman who took some photos of Kaufman. Kaufman is under the reasonable belief and understanding now that this older woman was Ghislaine Maxwell,” the lawsuit says.

“While Kaufman remained in the private area, Maxwell left the room with the camera. Shortly thereafter, Maxwell came back and advised Kaufman that her ‘boss’ wanted to meet her. Kaufman then put a bikini back on and was escorted by Maxwell into a massage room. Epstein was nude on the massage table as she entered the room.”

Ms Kaufman says she was then threatened with retaliation if she spoke out.

“Upon finishing, Epstein left the room and Kaufman put on her bikini and clothes and started hyperventilating. She then exited the massage room. Upon exiting the massage room, Hamblin handed Kaufman $500 cash and said ‘Mr Epstein is a very powerful man and he knows presidents. If you say anything he will kill you and your family.’”

Ms Kaufman is seeking damages from Epstein’s estate – which is valued at $630m (£505m) – for the alleged rape and sexual assault.

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