Britain's Prince Andrew was recently stripped of his titles as he faces allegations of sexual abuse. What has he been accused of, and what's the status of the case against him?
What are the allegations against Prince Andrew?
Virginia Giuffre has alleged convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, who died in prison in 2019 while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges, forced her to have sex with Prince Andrew when she was 17 years old. In a 2019 BBC interview, she alleged Epstein and his girlfriend, socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, introduced her to Andrew in London in 2001. According to her account, they went to a nightclub, and afterward, Maxwell "[told] me that I have to do for Andrew what I do for Jeffrey." Giuffre has said Andrew knew she was underage, and she alleges she was forced to have sex with him two additional times in New York and on Epstein's private island. In 2021, Giuffre filed a civil lawsuit against Andrew, accusing him of sexual assault. Andrew hasn't been criminally charged, meaning he couldn't be extradited to the United States.
How was Andrew connected to Jeffrey Epstein?
Andrew has acknowledged a past friendship with Epstein, whom he says he met through Maxwell in 1999. He confirmed in a 2019 BBC interview that he invited Epstein to Windsor Castle and Sandringham, visited Epstein's homes and private island, and flew on his private plane, but Andrew maintained that he was unaware of Epstein's sex trafficking operation. During the interview, he was confronted with his decision to invite Epstein to Windsor Castle after an arrest warrant was issued accusing him of sexually assaulting a minor and to later visit Epstein's mansion in 2010, even after Epstein had served time in jail on charges of soliciting a minor for prositition. Andrew claimed he only went to Epstein's mansion in 2010 to tell him he would be cutting off contact because of his conviction, but he conceded he shouldn't have then stayed at Epstein's house for several days. "Once he had been convicted, I stayed with him, and that's the bit that I kick myself for on a daily basis," Andrew said.
What has Andrew said about Giuffre's allegations?
In his 2019 BBC interview, Andrew not only denied sexually assaulting Giuffre but said he has "no recollection of ever meeting" her. He said he couldn't explain why there is a photo of him with Giuffre and Maxwell, telling BBC he didn't recall taking it and suggesting it might have been doctored. Giuffre said in the Netflix documentary Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich that this picture was taken just before Andrew sexually abused her. Andrew told BBC that on the date Giuffre alleges they went to the nightclub and had sex, he took Princess Beatrice to a Pizza Express in Woking for a birthday party. After Giuffre recalled Andrew sweating at the nightclub, he also claimed this is impossible because he was unable to sweat at the time due to a medical condition. Giuffre's lawyers have since asked Andrew to provide proof of this as part of the civil case, as well as any documents that might point to him being at Pizza Express that day, according to CNN. Andrew's attorneys said they couldn't provide such documents.
What has the fallout been, and how has the royal family responded?
Andrew faced heavy scrutiny for his relationship with Epstein and Giuffre's abuse allegations, and his BBC interview was widely panned, particularly over his description of Epstein as someone who "conducted himself in a manner unbecoming." After the interview aired, he announced he would "step back from public duties for the foreseeable future" because his relationship with Epstein had "become a major disruption." In 2019, Buckingham Palace said it "is emphatically denied that The Duke of York had any form of sexual contact or relationship with" Giuffre. But by January 2022, Queen Elizabeth II stripped Andrew of his military titles, with Buckingham Palace saying he would no longer use his His Royal Highness title, and would be "defending this case as a private citizen." Andrew's official Twitter account was deleted, though he has not lost his title of Duke of York.
What's the status of the case?
After a dispute over whether Andrew had been properly served with legal papers, Giuffre's lawsuit proceeded, and Andrew's team fought for it to be dismissed. They pointed to a 2009 settlement in which Epstein paid Giuffre $500,000 and she agreed she would drop a case against him and other "potential defendant[s]." But Giuffre's attorney argued this was not relevant to her claim against Andrew because the settlement didn't mention him and "he did not even know about it."
In January 2022, a New York judge ruled the case could continue. The judge disagreed with Andrew that Giuffre's claim was "legally insufficient" but said it wasn't "open to the court now to decide" what the 2009 settlement meant. A date for the potential trial hasn't been set, but it's likely it would begin in fall 2022 should Andrew not settle the case out of court.
Giuffre's attorneys are seeking deposition from Andrew's former assistant and from an individual who claims he saw Andrew at the London nightclub, and Giuffre's lawyer has also suggested Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, could be deposed because she "was a close associate of" Andrew. According to The New York Times, legal discovery must be completed by July 14.
What other fallout has there been since Epstein's arrest?
In December 2021, Maxwell was convicted on sex trafficking charges for recruiting young girls to be sexually abused by Epstein and others. She hasn't yet been sentenced, and in January 2022, she asked for a new trial after a juror revealed in post-trial interviews he was sexually abused, CNN reports.
Additionally, Giuffre has alleged Epstein forced her to have sex with attorney and law professor Alan Dershowitz. Dershowitz, who has defended Epstein, strongly denies her allegations, and in 2019, Giuffre sued him for defamation. Dershowitz subsequently countersued Giuffre, accusing her of "lies, disparagement, defamation, harassment." That case remains ongoing.
Multiple Epstein accusers are also suing his estate, Rolling Stone notes. There are also others facing scrutiny for their ties to Epstein, including Jes Staley, who resigned as Barclays CEO after acknowledging a "professional relationship" with the convicted sex offender, and billionaire Leon Black, who stepped down from Apollo Global Management in 2021 after it was revealed he paid Epstein $158 million over five years for advice on tax savings. Black is currently suing a woman who has accused him of rape for defamation. Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates also was confronted in a September 2021 interview about meeting Epstein multiple times, which he described as a "mistake."