Who is Virginia Giuffre and what were her allegations against Prince Andrew?

Accuser alleges she was trafficked to the duke by his friend Jeffrey Epstein in 2001

Megan Sheets
Thursday 17 February 2022 13:41
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A woman who claims she was sex trafficked by Jeffrey Epstein mounted a civil lawsuit accusing Prince Andrew of sexual assault.

Virginia Roberts Giuffre, 38, filed her suit against the Duke of York in the Southern District Court of New York in August under the state’s Child Victims Act.

The suit alleged Prince Andrew sexually abused Ms Giuffre as a teenager on multiple occasions in London, Manhattan, and the US Virgin Islands in 2001 - allegations that he denies.

Prince Andrew’s legal team sought to have the case dismissed, arguing that a 2009 settlement between Ms Giuffre and Epstein will stop the civil sex lawsuit against the royal.

The legal document was unsealed and made public before a 4 January hearing, where New York district judge Lewis Kaplan heard arguments on the dismissal issue from both sides.

In a 44-page opinion on 12 January, Judge Kaplan denied the bid for dismissal, paving the way for Ms Giuffre’s lawyers to enter into a protracted discovery and deposition phase that could draw in other members of the royal family.

However, on 15 February, Ms Giuffre and Andrew announced a settlement in the case.

Who is Virginia Giuffre?

Virginia Giuffre, also known as Virginia Roberts, first met now-convicted Ghislaine Maxwell in 2000 at the age of 17, when she was working as a spa assistant in Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club, where Ms Giuffre’s father also worked as a maintenance manager.

Maxwell approached her and asked if she was interested in being a masseuse for Epstein. However, according to Ms Giuffre’s claims, both Epstein and Maxwell began grooming her.

Ms Giuffre was allegedly trafficked to then 41-year-old Prince Andrew in 2001. The Duke is accused of having sex with Ms Giuffre (then known by her maiden name, Virginia Roberts) on three occasions; a trip to London in 2001 when she was 17 for which she was paid $15,00 and later in New York and on Little Saint James, a small private island in the US Virgin Islands.

Despite flight logs and photos revealing that Ms Giuffre and Prince Andrew had spent time together, the duke has denied meeting or having sex with her. Most famously, in a 2019 BBC Newsnight interview with Emily Maitlis, he said he was having dinner in a branch of Pizza Express in Woking and not having sex in London as per the claims against him.

What are the allegations against Prince Andrew?

Ms Giuffre’s lawsuit against the duke claimed he had sex with her without consent despite knowing how old she was and that she was a victim of sex trafficking. The prince, a longtime friend of Epstein’s, has vehemently denied the allegations.

In her lawsuit, Ms Giuffre said she has continued to suffer “significant emotional and psychological distress” decades after the alleged assaults.

She was seeking unspecified damages, but there is speculation the sum could be in the millions of dollars.

“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 suit stated.

Prince Andrew spoke out about the allegations in the Newsnight interview.

Virginia Roberts Giuffre claims that she was forced to have sex with Prince Andrew

“It didn’t happen. I can absolutely categorically tell you it never happened. I have no recollection of ever meeting this lady, none whatsoever,” he said.

The duke’s legal team formerly tried to have the case dismissed on the grounds that she lives in Australia, not in the US, as the suit suggests.

However, the dismissal attempt faced a setback when Judge Kaplan rejected the motion by Prince Andrew’s lawyers.

The 2009 settlement agreement between Ms Giuffre and Epstein was made public on 3 January, revealing Ms Giuffre was paid $500,000 (£370,000) to settle all claims against Epstein and his associates.

The settlement provided a release for “any other person or entity who could have been included as a potential defendant” against Ms Giuffre’s claims.

The duke’s lawyers argued that he was included as a “potential defendant” in their bid to have the suit thrown out. Judge Kaplan, however, disagreed and ruled that the case can move forward on 12 January.

The settlement announced on 15 February marks the end of the legal proceedings in the case.

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