Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story was originally published in 2019.
There was a time when Prince Andrew had it all: A decorated war hero, a playboy prince, an international ambassador for the British brand, living the life of privilege. But those days seem long gone. Instead, the Duke of York – who is ninth in line to the British throne – is now being sued for alleged sexual abuse.
Federal court documents filed Monday reveal that a lawsuit was filed by Virginia Roberts Giuffre, an alleged victim of sex offender and disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein. Giuffre has previously said publicly that she was forced to perform sex acts with Britain’s Prince Andrew, telling the BBC in 2019 that she was trafficked by Epstein and forced to have sex with his friends, including the Duke of York, when she was underage.
Andrew has repeatedly denied Giuffre’s allegations. But his association with Epstein has cast a dark shadow over him.
Facing pressure from the public, the Prince stepped back from royal duties in the wake of a 2019 interview he gave the BBC in which he was widely considered to have damaged his own credibility. He rarely appears in public. When his elder daughter, Princess Beatrice, married last year, he wasn’t shown in any of the four official photographs released.
Buckingham Palace has previously denied Giuffre’s allegations in a 2019 statement to CNN, saying “It is emphatically denied that The Duke of York had any form of sexual contact or relationship with Virginia Roberts. Any claim to the contrary is false and without foundation.”
On Tuesday, a representative for the duke’s legal team declined to comment. Buckingham Palace also declined to comment.
Alex McCready, the head of Reputation & Privacy at Vardags, a law firm specializing in handling cases of high-profile clients, said the Prince isn’t facing the risk of being extradited, because the lawsuit is a civil matter.
“If he fails to cooperate he will face a default judgment, significant damages and a reputation further in tatters. Another option, often preferred in these high profile cases, is an out of court settlement,” she said.
Gerhard Kemp, a law professor at the University of Derby in the UK, said the complaint by Giuffre is unlikely to change the duke’s situation dramatically, since it doesn’t seem to include substantial new information beyond what has already been alleged.
The ongoing criminal case against Ghislaine Maxwell, a British socialite and former girlfriend of Epstein, could cause a bigger headache for the Prince, Kemp said.
“The gamechanger will be if the criminal case against Maxwell is going to yield significant evidence implicating the Duke of York, which in turn may alter the nature of proceedings in the US from the current civil case to a possible criminal case against the Duke,” he told CNN in an email.