LONDON (AP) - Prince Andrew was missing when his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, hosted NATO leaders at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday evening, but he was the focus of renewed scrutiny as allegations of sexual misconduct received wide attention on British TV.
Andrew, who has stepped down from royal duties because of his involvement with sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, was the subject of a BBC documentary broadcast Monday night in which he was accused of having sex with a 17-year-old American trafficked by Epstein.
President Donald Trump declined to offer an opinion when asked about the case earlier Tuesday, saying only that he didn’t know Andrew but that it was a “very tough story.” However, the alleged victim’s father did weigh in, telling the ITV network he believes his daughter Virginia Roberts Giuffre’s account is factual.
“I feel really sorry that all this happened. But it did happen, and Prince Andrew should pay for it,” Sky Roberts said, adding that his daughter is “really brave to be going through all this and to come up against these powerful people.”
The royal scandal, closely linked to the Epstein affair, was deepening as Trump and other dignitaries gathered in the splendor of Buckingham Palace to have drinks with the queen ahead of a NATO summit Wednesday. Andrew was not among those invited.
Giuffre, now 35, told the BBC in vivid detail how she was forced to have sex with Andrew in London in 2001 after a night on the town at the exclusive Tramp nightclub. She said she had been recruited into Epstein’s sex-trafficking network earlier when she was working as a locker room attendant at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club.
“This is not some sordid sex story. This is a story of being trafficked, this is a story of abuse and this is a story of your guys’ royalty,” Giuffre said, imploring the British public to back her in her quest for justice. She says Andrew knows what happened and should accept responsibility.
Andrew has denied having sex with Giuffre and says he doesn’t have any recollection of meeting her - despite a photo that appears to show him with his arm around her waist.
Andrew, 59, has apologized for his association with Epstein, who died in prison in August in what New York City officials ruled was a suicide. He was facing sex-trafficking charges after earlier serving time for other sex offenses.
The disgraced prince says he is willing to cooperate with appropriate law enforcement inquiries if required to do so. He also faces possible subpoenas from women who are suing Epstein’s estate who believe Andrew may have valuable testimony about abuse they suffered.
The scandal is one of the worst to grip the royal household in recent decades and has severely tarnished the reputation of Andrew, one of Queen Elizabeth II’s four children.
U.S. law enforcement agencies have not commented publicly on whether Andrew is being investigated for any possible wrongdoing. Many of the court papers related to the Epstein case are still sealed and unavailable to the public, so many details have not yet emerged.
British legal experts, meanwhile, are divided over whether Andrew enjoys immunity from prosecution as a senior British royal and the matter has not been tested in court.
Giuffre complained to British police in 2015, alleging that she was trafficked into England by Epstein to have sex with Andrew, but police did not launch a full-scale investigation.
Police Commander Alex Murray said last week that the force decided it was not the proper agency to prosecute possible trafficking in this case.
“Following the legal advice, it was clear that any investigation into human trafficking would be largely focused on activities and relationships outside the UK,” he said. “We therefore concluded that the MPS (Metropolitan Police Service) was not the appropriate authority to conduct inquiries in these circumstances.”
He did say police have “liaised with other law enforcement organizations” but have not received a formal request for assistance in connection with the allegation.
That statement suggests British police may have discussed the case with U.S. law enforcement officials but have not received a legal request seeking to interview Andrew under oath.
Andrew could face possible subpoenas related to civil lawsuits if he goes to the United States, although it might be difficult to serve the papers on a royal who travels with protection officers. Lawyers could also seek to have him deposed in Britain.
Andrew tried to contain the damage by giving a televised interview on the topic in November. But it backfired because he did not express concern for Epstein’s victims and defended his friendship with Epstein, a wealthy financier, as “honorable.”
The documentary broadcast Monday night painted a detailed portrait of how Epstein abused dozens of young women at his luxury properties in the Caribbean and New York and quoted Giuffre’s account of being ordered to have sex with Andrew on three occasions.
Giuffre described how she says she was recruited by Epstein’s then girlfriend, Ghislaine Maxwell, to give Epstein massages and later taken to London to meet Andrew.
Breaking down in tears, Giuffre described the humiliating aftermath of being made to have sex with Andrew at a townhouse in London after a night out at the exclusive Tramp nightclub. She said she was told to dance with him by Maxwell.
“It was horrible and this guy was sweating all over me,” she said. “His sweat was like it was raining basically everywhere. I was just like grossed out from it, but I knew I had to keep him happy because that’s what Jeffrey and Ghislaine would have expected from me.”
She said that Maxwell told her she would have to do for Andrew what she had done for Epstein, meaning she would have to have sex with the prince. Maxwell has denied any wrongdoing.
“There was a bath,” she said. “It started there, then went into the bedroom. It didn’t last very long, the whole procedure. It was disgusting.”
“He got up and he said ‘Thanks,’” she added. “I sat there in bed, just horrified and ashamed and felt dirty.”
Giuffre said she felt trapped. “It was a wicked time in my life. It was a really scary time in my life. I had just been abused by a member of the royal family,” she said. “Yeah, I didn’t have chains, but these powerful people were my chains.”
Giuffre admitted that her memory was foggy at times and that she might have some dates and places wrong but insisted she was certain of the key facts.
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