Prince Andrew officially stepped down from royal duties last week after growing outrage about his friendship with convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein and accusations of rape grew too loud to ignore.
He had known Epstein since 1999, and stayed at his house in New York in 2010, after his conviction. One of Epstein’s accusers, Virginia Roberts- now Virginia Giuffre- has also alleged that she was forced to have sex with the prince in the early 2000s when she was 17.
Though press coverage of the story seemed to be dying down, Prince Andrew controversially agreed to be interviewed on Newsnight. The interview was labelled a ‘car crash’ by many. One of the most criticised moments included the prince saying that Epstein had ‘conducted himself in a manner unbecoming’, which many feel underplays the predatory sexual abuse of at least 80 women.
The public do not appear to be very convinced by his defense against the rape charges. In her account of the night, Roberts describes that while dancing with the prince that night he had been ‘sweating profusely’- he claimed this proves his innocence because at the time he had a rare medical condition that meant he could not sweat. He also said that on the night he was supposed to have had sex with Roberts he distinctly remembers being at a Pizza Express in Woking. Many commentators have expressed doubt that going to a high street chain restaurant in Surrey would have been so memorable that he would be able to recall the exact date with certainty such a long time later.
He also claimed that, after Epstein was accused of sex offences in 2007, he ceased contact with him. Then three years later, after Epstein’s release from prison, he went to stay at his house ‘with the sole purpose of saying to him that because he had been convicted, it was inappropriate for us to be seen together’. Many viewers found it odd that he felt the need to end the friendship in person if he had not spoken to Epstein for three years.
In 2008, Epstein was charged with procuring an underage prostitute and served 13 months in a county jail, during which he was allowed out for work release for up to 12 hours a day, 6 days a week. The FBI reportedly had enough evidence to put him in federal prison for life, but Alexander Acosta, the U.S Attorney in Miami, agreed a secret deal that concealed the extent of his crimes and the number of people involved. Acosta was, until a few months ago, President Trump’s Secretary of Labour.
It was eventually revealed that Epstein ran a vast network of underage prostitution, including girls as young as 14. Epstein was arrested again in July 2019, and allegedly killed himself in prison while awaiting trial a month later.
Prince Andrew was not Epstein’s only influential friend. Bill Clinton also spent time with him, as well as Donald Trump who in a 2002 interview said ‘I’ve known Jeff for 15 years. Terrific guy. He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side. No doubt about it- Jeffrey enjoys his social life.’ Like Prince Andrew, Trump has also been accused of sexual misconduct himself. Dozens of women have accused him of assault or harassment, ranging from forcible kissing them on the mouth to grabbing their breasts or genitals. While for Prince Andrew, this seems to be the end of his public life, it remains to be seen whether these revelations will have any effect on Trump in the 2020 presidential election.
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