The web of exploitation and sexual abuse of minor girls involving deceased hedge fund manager Jeffrey Epstein and his circle of rich and powerful friends continues to remain under the spotlight as Prince Andrew, the son of reigning British monarch Queen Elizabeth II, faces allegations from US national Virginia Giuffre that she was assaulted by the British royal when she was 17 years old. While Andrew has denied those claims, a hearing in the matter is set to get underway in a US court where evidence would likely cover everything from his claims of a visit to a pizza place in London to his inability to sweat. Here’s all you need to know.
Who Is Prince Andrew?
Prince Andrew is the third eldest child of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip and a younger brother of Prince Charles. Andrew holds the title of Duke of York. He was the first child born to a reigning British monarch since 1857 and, until the birth of Charles’s son William, was second in line to the British throne, behind his elder brother. The 61-year-old, who had served for more than 20 years in the British navy, was married to Sarah Ferguson, whom he divorced in 1996. The couple have two daughters.
After retiring from the navy he held the post of the UK’s Special Representative for International Trade and Investment, but had to step down mainly over the controversy generated by his ties with Epstein, whom Andrew has said he first met in 1999 through Epstein’s then-girlfriend, socialite Ghislaine Maxwell.
A convicted sex offender, allegations against Epstein — whose circle of acquaintances included the likes of former US presidents Bill Clinton and Donald Trump — had first emerged in 2005 of sexual assault of a minor and he was jailed in Florida in 2008 but got out in 2010 under a controversial plea deal. Andrew says he visited Epstein in 2010 to break off their friendship, but had stayed for four days at Epstein’s new York residence. Epstein would head back to prison again as fresh allegations were made against him for exploiting underage girls for sex. It was while awaiting trial in prison that Epstein was found dead inside his cell in 2019 with the cause being ruled as suicide.
Maxwell was arrested by the FBI in the US in July 2020 and was found guilty of recruiting and trafficking underage girls to be sexually abused by Epstein in December 2021. Her sentencing is awaited — her lawyers have said they will appeal her conviction — and she could end up spending the rest of her life behind bars.
What Are The Allegations Andrew Is Facing?
In August 2021, Giuffre filed a civil lawsuit at a US court accusing Andrew of “sexual assault and battery" against her in 2001 when she was 17. Her lawyers say that Giuffre was forced by Epstein and Maxwell to have sex with Andrew and was assaulted on three occasions by the British royal, claims that Andrew’s lawyers have rejected.
Andrew’s lawyers also point to a settlement Giuffre struck in 2009 with Epstein in which she is said to have agreed not to sue anbody connected to Epstein. While the terms of the deal had been kept secret, its contents are reportedly set to be made public as part of the proceedings against Andrew with Giuffre’s lawyers saying it is “irrelevant to the case".
Reports say that attempts by Andrew’s legal team to prevent or stall the case have been blocked by US courts and that that increases the pressure on him to pursue a settlement before the commencement of hearing in the matter.
What’s Sweat Got To Do With It?
Andrew has denied ever meeting Giuffre and has previously said in a 2019 TV interview that on the night she claims he had seen her, he had been looking after his children and had taken one of them to a party at a pizzeria. However, he has not been able to explain a photo of him with an arm around Giuffre with Maxwell in the background.
“No, that (meeting Giuffre) couldn’t have happened because the date that happened, I was at home with the children… I had taken Beatrice to a pizza express in Woking," Andrew had told BBC’s Newsnight programme.
To further rebut Giuffre’s claims, Andrew has pointed to her statement that he was “sweating all over" her while they were dancing at a nightclub, saying that a medical condition he was suffering at the time had rendered him unable to sweat. It was the same evening for which he has cited the pizzeria alibi although Giuffre claims that the duo had gone to a nightclub following which he raped her. “He is the most hideous dancer. It was horrible, and this guy was sweating all over me," Giuffre told BBC in December 2019. “His sweat was, like, it was raining everywhere."
But Andrew said in November 2019 that “there’s a slight problem with the sweating because I have a peculiar medical condition which is that I don’t sweat…"
“I didn’t sweat at the time because I had suffered what I would describe as an overdose of adrenalin in the Falklands War when I was shot at," he said. Giuffre’s lawyers, BBC said, have now asked Andrew to provide “all documents concerning your alleged medical condition of anhidrosis, hypohidrosis, or your inability to sweat".
Andrew’s lawyers are reported to have not provided any evidence so far on his “inability to sweat" and neither have any witnesses been named to back his claim about being at the pizzeria in Woking.