An alleged victim of Jeffrey Epstein has sued Prince Andrew in a US court for alleged sexual abuse.
Virginia Giuffre claims that the Queen’s 61-year-old son sexually abused her at Epstein’s New York mansion and two other places when she was under the age of 18.
Ms Giuffre filed her case in New York federal court just days before the expiration date of a state law that allows alleged victims of childhood sexual abuse to file claims that would otherwise be prevented by statutes of limitations.
Her lawyer said that his client was determined to take action against Prince Andrew.
“If she doesn’t do it now, she would be allowing him to escape any accountability for his actions,” Ms Giuffre’s attorney, David Boies told ABC News.
“And Virginia is committed to trying to avoid situations where rich and powerful people escape any accountability for their actions.”
The lawsuit accuses Prince Andrew of sexual assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress, and seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.
“Twenty years ago, Prince Andrew’s wealth, power, position, and connections enabled him to abuse a frightened, vulnerable child with no one there to protect her,” court papers state.
“It is long past the time for him to be held to account.”
Ms Giuffre, 38, now lives in Australia and first made her accusations against Andrew in 2014 court filings in a case brought by Epstein’s victims against the Department of Justice.
“I was trafficked to him and sexually abused by him,” Ms Giuffre said in a statement.
“I am holding Prince Andrew accountable for what he did to me. The powerful and the rich are not exempt from being held responsible for their actions.
“I hope that other victims will see that it is possible not to live in silence and fear, but one can reclaim her life by speaking out and demanding justice.
“I did not come to this decision lightly. As a mother and a wife, my family comes first. I know that this action will subject me to further attacks by Prince Andrew and his surrogates.
“But I knew that if I did not pursue this action, I would be letting them and victims everywhere down.”
In her previous court statements, filed in a case to challenge Epstein’s 2008 deal with federal prosecutors, Ms Giuffre alleged that Epstein and his former lover Ghislaine Maxwell directed her to have sex with Prince Andrew on three occasions in 2001.
She claimed that this took place in London, New York and the US Virgin Islands, where Epstein owned a private island.
Those claims were strongly denied by Buckingham Palace.
“It is emphatically denied that [Prince Andrew] had any form of sexual contact or relationship with [Giuffre]. The allegations made are false and without any foundation,” the Palace statement said.
Mr Boies said that Ms Giuffre’s legal team has been trying to discuss the case with prince Andrew since 2015 but had received no response.
“We have given him every opportunity to provide any explanation or context that he might have. We’ve tried to reach a resolution without the necessity of litigation. Prince Andrew and his lawyers have been totally non-responsive,” he said.
The lawsuit states that Ms Giuffre’s lawyers sent Prince Andrew’s legal team a letter last month, in which they warned that they would file a lawsuit unless he entered into discussions for an alternative resolution.
“If she had simply failed to sue now, it would have validated the stonewalling tactics that Andrew and his advisers have employed,” added Mr Boies.
Ms Giuffre’s lawsuit comes nearly two years after Epstein died by suicide in a New York jail while he was awaiting trial on conspiracy and child sex-trafficking charges.
Prince Andrew gave an interview to the BBC in November 2019 in which he denied Ms Giuffre’s allegations.
In it he claimed that a 2001 photograph, in which he had his arm around the then-17-year-old’s waist, might have been doctored.
“I don’t believe that photograph was taken in the way that has been suggested,” he said.
“I think it’s, from the investigations that we’ve done, you can’t prove whether or not that photograph is faked or not, because it is a photograph of a photograph of a photograph. So it’s very difficult to be able to prove it, but I don’t remember that photograph ever being taken.”
He also said that he had an alibi for the date in question, when the photo was allegedly taken by Epstein at the London home of Ms Maxwell.
“I was at home. I was with the children, and I’d taken Beatrice to a Pizza Express in Woking for a party at, I suppose, sort of 4 or 5 in the afternoon,” he said.
“And then, because the Duchess was away, we have a simple rule in the family that when one is away the other one is there. I was on terminal leave at the time from the Royal Navy, so therefore I was at home.”
The Independent has reached out to Buckingham Palace for comment.