Australian resident Virginia Giuffre, one of Jeffrey Epstein’s longtime accusers, has sued Prince Andrew, saying he sexually assaulted her when she was 17.
- Ms Giuffre alleges she was trafficked to Prince Andrew and sexually abused by him
- In 2019, Prince Andrew told BBC Newsnight that he never had sex with Ms Giuffre
- A compensation fund set up for Epstein’s victims received more than double the expected number of claims
Lawyers for Ms Giuffre filed the lawsuit on Monday in Manhattan federal court.
It comes as a fund set up to provide money to Epstein’s victims announced on Monday that it had largely completed its work after agreeing to deliver nearly $US125 million ($170 million) to more than 135 individuals.
In a statement, Ms Giuffre said the lawsuit was brought under the Child Victims Act to allege she was trafficked to him and sexually abused by him.
“I am holding Prince Andrew accountable for what he did to me,” she said.
“The powerful and rich are not exempt from being held responsible for their actions.
“I did not come to this decision lightly,” she added.
“As a mother and a wife, my family comes first — and I know that this action will subject me to further attacks by Prince Andrew and his surrogates — but I knew if I did not pursue this action, I would be letting them and victims everywhere down.”
In late 2019, Prince Andrew told BBC Newsnight that he never had sex with Ms Giuffre, saying, “It didn’t happen.”
He said he had “no recollection” of ever meeting her and told an interviewer there were “a number of things that are wrong” about Ms Giuffre’s account, which alleged the encounter occurred in 2001.
According to the lawsuit, Prince Andrew abused Ms Giuffre on multiple occasions when she was under the age of 18.
It said that on one occasion, he sexually abused her in London at the home of Ghislaine Maxwell when Epstein, Ms Maxwell and Prince Andrew forced her to have sexual intercourse with the Prince against her will.
On another occasion, Prince Andrew sexually abused the plaintiff in Epstein’s New York mansion, the lawsuit said.
Ms Maxwell, 59, has pleaded not guilty to sex trafficking charges in Manhattan federal court, where she faces trial in November.
Epstein, 66, took his own life in a federal jail in Manhattan in August 2019, a month after he was arrested on sex trafficking charges.
Epstein fund finalising payments to victims
The announcement about the money to be provided to Epstein’s victims came from Jordana Feldman, the administrator of the Epstein Victims Compensation Program, which since late June of last year has operated independently of Epstein’s estate.
Ms Feldman said 92 per cent of 150 eligible applicants accepted what was offered by the fund, which received 225 claims, far more than the roughly 100 or so claims that were expected based on the number of women who had sued and spoken to lawyers.
Payouts were generally processed and paid within two to three months after claimants shared their experiences in confidential meetings, according to a release from the fund.
Ms Feldman, who declined to provide demographics on claimants, said she met individually with more than 200 fund applicants and tried to put them at ease at the outset by saying nothing would be recorded, leading them to “kind of relax their shoulders a little bit.”
“I do think that there was a sense of comfort knowing that this was a safe space to share their stories,” she said.
“And I think that the process was exhausting but empowering for many of these victims. Empowerment in having come forward and reclaiming a sense of control and ownership in their own narrative.”
The fund was designed as an alternative to lawsuits, which can take years to proceed to a payout.
Awards were not formulaic but instead resulted from a study of numerous factors, including the victim’s age, severity of abuse, frequency and impact of abuse, the extent of collaboration and the general credibility of the claim, Ms Feldman said.
Brad Edwards, a Florida attorney who had several dozen clients participate in the process, called the claim program “largely successful”.
He said some victims, though, “felt the determination from the program was inadequate and will be litigating their claims”.
The fund was established with help from Kenneth Feinberg, who oversaw compensation funds for victims of the September 11 attacks and of clergy sex abuse within New York’s Roman Catholic archdiocese.
Ms Feldman said she worked for a decade on the September 11 compensation fund.
The payouts were financed with money from Epstein’s estate, including expenses of $8 million to $9 million, Ms Feldman said.