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Eyes turn to Prince Andrew after Ghislaine Maxwell’s sex trafficking conviction

“Maxwell did not act alone. Others must be held accountable,” Virginia Giuffre, one of Epstein’s most high-profile accusers, tweeted after the verdict.

LONDON — The guilty verdict in the case of British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, who was convicted Wednesday of helping to lure teenage girls for abuse by financier Jeffrey Epstein, comes days before her longtime friend Prince Andrew tries to get his own civil case dismissed in a New York City courtroom.

Maxwell was convicted of five federal sex trafficking charges after a jury concluded that she played a pivotal part in recruiting and grooming teenage girls to be sexually abused by Epstein, a convicted sex offender who died by suicide in a federal jail in August 2019. 

Virginia Giuffre (then Roberts) with Prince Andrew and Ghislaine Maxwell in London in 2001.
Virginia Giuffre (then Roberts) with Prince Andrew and Ghislaine Maxwell in London in 2001.

The ruling is reverberating across the Atlantic because Andrew, a son of Queen Elizabeth II, has also been accused of sexually abusing Virginia Giuffre, one of Epstein’s most high-profile accusers.

Although the jury at Maxwell’s trial heard no evidence of Prince Andrew’s involvement in any wrongdoing and Giuffre did not testify, the influential U.K. newspaper The Times heralded the verdict as “bad news” for the prince, who is now linked with two convicted criminals. Other British media outlets followed suit.

Andrew, 61, has vehemently denied Giuffre's allegations and has not been charged with any crimes.

He said in a 2019 BBC interview that he had “no recollection” of ever having met Giuffre and “absolutely no memory” of an infamous photograph showing them together with Maxwell in 2001.

He added that he had been friends with Maxwell for decades and that it was through her that he met Epstein in 1999.

After the verdict was delivered, Giuffre said: “We were told constantly, you know, these people will never go to jail. They are too powerful. They are too rich. And we live in a new day. And it just goes to show that, you know, this is not the end. This is just the beginning.”

She wrote on Twitter: “Maxwell did not act alone. Others must be held accountable.”

Giuffre sued this year alleging that Maxwell trafficked her to Prince Andrew when she was 17. The prince's legal team will argue to dismiss the lawsuit at a hearing in New York early next month. 

Andrew Brettler, the prince’s lawyer, said in a text message Thursday that he would not be issuing a statement about the Maxwell verdict on behalf of Prince Andrew.

Giuffre accuses Andrew in the lawsuit of having sexually abused her on separate occasions — in London and New York and on Epstein’s private island in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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The suit alleges that Epstein and Maxwell compelled her to engage in sexual acts with Andrew and that he knew she was a sex-trafficking victim.

“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,” says the lawsuit, which was filed Aug. 9 in the Southern District of New York.

Giuffre had previously made the allegations in TV interviews, including on “Dateline NBC.” The lawsuit opened a new front in her bid to hold Andrew accountable.

It emerged Thursday that a settlement between Epstein and Giuffre in 2009, which could be key to a legal case involving Andrew, is set to be made public next week.

Andrew's lawyers have argued that the settlement releases him from liability because it covered “royalty” and Epstein insisted it that cover “any and all persons” whom Giuffre might sue.

Giuffre’s lawyer, meanwhile, said that it applies “at most” to people involved in underlying litigation in Florida and that therefore Andrew is excluded.

The Maxwell verdict adds to what has turned out to be a tumultuous year for the royals. Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, finalized their split from the royal family amid the death of Prince Philip and accusations of racism against other family members. 

Los Angeles lawyer Lisa Bloom, who represented eight of Epstein’s victims, told the British tabloid The Daily Mail on Thursday that the prince should be “quaking in his boots” over the Maxwell verdict.

Image: Ghislaine Maxwell trial in New York
Maxwell sits as the guilty verdict in her sex abuse trial is read Wednesday in New York City.Jane Rosenberg / Reuters

“She is now a convicted sex trafficker,” Bloom said. “So that just brings us one step closer to Prince Andrew.”

In an analysis of the case Thursday, The Times said that with Maxwell’s conviction, the prince’s chances of defeating Giuffre’s legal action “look even slimmer than they did previously.” 

“When jurors come to be selected to hear Giuffre’s civil claim against Prince Andrew, there is one key fact that they will remember: that Andrew’s friend Ghislaine Maxwell was found guilty by a New York court,” it said.

The British media personality Piers Morgan also took a veiled swipe at the prince, saying many powerful figures should be very nervous if Maxwell decides to expose Epstein’s accomplices to potentially avoid spending the rest of her life in prison. 

“If she does, there could be a lot of rich, powerful & famous people sweating tonight... and not sweating,” Morgan tweeted in what appeared to be a reference to Prince Andrew’s claim in the 2019 BBC interview that he had a medical condition that prevents him from sweating. 

Andrew has stood down from his public role since the interview, and he has kept a low profile to avoid further tarnishing the royal family's reputation.