Why is Virginia Giuffre not testifying at Ghislaine Maxwell’s sex-trafficking trial?
She stands in the middle in one of the most notorious photographs at the centre of the sex-trafficking allegations against Ghislaine Maxwell — which is something considering the trove of pictures released this week.
In the photo, to her left, Ms Maxwell leans against the side of a doorway, to her right stands Prince Andrew, Duke of York, with his arm around her waist.
She has also been mentioned numerous times on nearly every day to date of Ms Maxwell’s trial. So why isn’t Virginia Giuffre testifying?
Given that she has been one of the most vocal people about Jeffrey Epstein, his crimes, and those who enabled him, it does seem surprising.
She was mentioned in testimony by Epstein housekeeper Juan Alessi, who recalled driving Ms Maxwell when she first met teenage Ms Giuffre (then Roberts) outside Mar-a-Lago, Donald Trump’s private members’ club and now his residence.
A Mar-a-Lago staff member also testified that her father, Sky Roberts, had worked at the club at the time.
Nevertheless, despite making headlines around the world with her accusations that she was trafficked to Prince Andrew and others aged 17, she was left out of the case by prosecutors. The prince has strongly denied her claims and any wrongdoing.
Her attorney has told The Miami Herald that they do not know why prosecutors chose to build their case on just four of the alleged victims.
One theory is that they felt including testimony from Ms Giuffre may complicate the case with extra actors, jurisdictions, and other details, rather than sticking to a more straightforward narrative that lays out criminal wrongdoing.
While bypassing her allegations about the Duke of York keeps some of the most explosive assertions about Ms Maxwell out of the trial, it also allows prosecutors to avoid a big risk.
Records, witnesses, and photos back up many parts of Ms Giuffre’s account of her time with Epstein, but she has acknowledged getting key details wrong in her story over the years, including initially falsely saying in a lawsuit that she had been 15 when the now-dead financier first abused her.
She has since said this was an innocent mistake made while trying to recall events from many years before that have caused her great trauma.
Besides the prince, Ms Giuffre has said she was sexually trafficked to former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, former Senator George Mitchell, lawyer Alan Dershowitz, French modelling scout Jean Luc Brunel, and the billionaire Glenn Dubin, among others.
All deny her allegations and say her accounts are fabricated.
Those she has named have spent years attacking her credibility, and prosecutors may have wanted to avoid Ms Maxwell’s lawyers having some of them testify.
Even as prosecutors have decided to not include her in the case against Ms Maxwell, Ms Giuffre has sued Prince Andrew for sexual assault, meaning that she may still get her day in court.
With reporting from the Associated Press