Prince Andrew ‘exonerated’ from Epstein-Maxwell case

When Jeffrey Epstein‘s longtime companion Ghislaine Maxwell goes on trial next week, the accuser who captivated the public the most — with claims she was trafficked to Prince Andrew and other prominent men — won’t be part of the case.

U.S. prosecutors chose not to bring charges in connection with Virginia Giuffre, who says Epstein and Maxwell flew her around the world when she was 17 and 18 for sexual encounters with billionaires, politicians, royals and heads of state.

She isn’t expected to be called as a witness in Maxwell’s trial, either.

Prosecutors will focus instead on four other women who say they were recruited by Maxwell as teenagers to be abused by Epstein. None has alleged the type of abuse by powerful international figures that Giuffre has detailed in interviews and court filings.

Ghislaine Maxwell, pictured here in September 2013 in New York City, is accused of recruiting teenage girls to be abused by Jeffrey Epstein. (Laura Cavanaugh/Getty Images)
Ghislaine Maxwell, pictured here in September 2013 in New York City, is accused of recruiting teenage girls to be abused by Jeffrey Epstein. (Laura Cavanaugh/Getty Images)

Bypassing Giuffre’s allegations about Andrew will keep the most explosive allegations against Maxwell out of the trial, but it will also allow prosecutors to avoid a big risk.

Records, witnesses and photos back up many parts of Giuffre’s account of her time with Epstein, the financier who died by suicide in 2019 while jailed ahead of his own sex trafficking trial. But Giuffre has acknowledged getting key details in her story wrong over the years, including initially falsely saying in a lawsuit that she had been 15 when Epstein began to abuse her.

The men she’s accused have spent years attacking her credibility. Maxwell’s lawyers might have tried to have some of them testify.

Besides Andrew, Giuffre has said she was sexually trafficked to former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson, former U.S. senator George Mitchell, the noted lawyer Alan Dershowitz, the French modelling scout Jean Luc Brunel and the billionaire Glenn Dubin, among others.

All have said her accounts are fabricated.

Stands by her allegations

David Weinstein, a former federal prosecutor who’s not involved in the case, said making Giuffre part of the Maxwell case could have complicated matters unnecessarily.

“There is no reason to give the defense anything to work with that can sow the seeds of reasonable doubt,” Weinstein said.

Giuffre’s lawyers declined an interview request, but she has stood by her allegations and repeatedly shown a willingness to go into civil court to prove them, sitting in depositions and assembling a legal team that includes one of America’s most influential lawyers, David Boies.

In a 2019 interview with Dateline NBC, she said inconsistencies in her story were the innocent mistakes of trying to recall events that happened years ago, when she was a traumatized teenager.

“When you are abused, you know your abuser,” she said. “I might not have my dates right. I might not have my times right … but I know their faces and I know what they’ve done to me.”

The Epstein scandal burst into public view in 2005 when he was arrested in Florida and accused of paying a 14-year-old girl for sex.

Police identified underage girls who were paid to perform sex acts, but in 2008 the investigation was cut short. Prosecutors allowed Epstein to plead guilty to a charge of procuring a person under 18 for prostitution. He served 13 months in jail.

Dozens of women sued Epstein, but Giuffre’s 2009 lawsuit was different. In it, she said Epstein pressured her into having sex with numerous men “including royalty, politicians, academicians, businessmen and/or professional and personal acquaintances.”

Met the prince

Giuffre didn’t initially identify the men involved, but in 2011, she took $160,000 from the Daily Mail for an interview in which she described meeting Prince Andrew during a trip to London with Epstein in 2001.

Giuffre provided the newspaper with a photo of herself and Andrew together in Maxwell’s London townhouse, his arm around her bare midriff.

Giuffre claimed she was trafficked to several prominent men, including Prince Andrew, seen here in April 2021. (Chris Jackson/Reuters)

The British tabloid said Giuffre and Andrew danced together at a nightclub, but added there was “no suggestion that there was any sexual contact between Virginia and Andrew, or that Andrew knew that Epstein paid her to have sex with his friends.”

Years later, Giuffre’s lawyers insisted she told the Daily Mail she had sex with Andrew, but the paper’s lawyers wouldn’t let it publish the claim.

She also said in a deposition that some details in the Daily Mail stories based on her paid interviews were inaccurate, including parts in which she described riding in a helicopter with Bill Clinton and flirting with Donald Trump. Those things hadn’t happened, she said, though she blamed those errors on the reporter.