Photo Andrew must long to forget is back ... in new trial of his shamed friend Epstein
PRINCE ANDREW faces being dragged back into a scandal surrounding his shamed former friend Jeffrey Epstein in a courtroom drama about to unfold in the US.
Epstein, an American billionaire, was jailed on child prostitution charges in 2008.
The hedge fund tycoon served just 13 months of an 18-month jail term after reaching an extraordinary ‘ non-prosecution deal’ with prosecutors in Florida.
He had pleaded guilty to two counts of soliciting girls as young as 14 for prostitution.
The Prince, who has reportedly known Epstein since the 1990s, was photographed strolling through a New York park with him in 2011 but has since severed all ties.
But Andrew became embroiled in the scandal in 2015 when he was named by a victim of Epstein, Virginia Roberts, in a civil court claim against the billionaire.
The Prince vehemently denied allegations made by Ms Roberts, which a judge described as ‘lurid’ and ‘immaterial’ and ordered to be struck out of the case.
Now a new case is being brought against Epstein by a lawyer representing his victims, and will open next week in Palm Beach County Court in Florida. Among the exhibits which are listed for the proceedings is a photograph of Prince Andrew with hi s arm around Ms Roberts, believed to have been taken in London in 2001. At the time she would have been about 17. Ms Roberts, now 35 and a mother-of-three, claims she was forced to have sex with Epstein from the age of 16 – the legal age of consent in Florida is 18– and was ‘loaned out’ by him to engage in sex acts with his wealthy friends at his Palm Beach mansion and homes in New York and the US Virgin Islands. Other possible exhibits at next week’s trial include a receipt from online retailer Amazon for books including Training Miss Abernathy: A Workbook For Erotic Slaves And Their Owners and Slave Craft: Roadmap For Erotic Servitude – Principles, Skills And Tools.
Other items which could be shown to the jury include flight logs and passenger logs from Epstein’s private jet and a massage table.
The case is being brought by lawyer Bradley Edwards, who is suing Epstein after the billionaire accused the lawyer of pursuing civil damages claims – in which high-profile figures including Bill Clinton were named –in order to fund a criminal financial scheme.
The scheme was run by Edwards’s former law firm partner Scott Rothstein, who was jailed but insists that Edwards was not involved in any way in the fraud.
If called as a witness, Ms Roberts is expected to recount her story about allegedly being ‘recruited’ by Ghislaine Maxwell, daughter of disgraced newspaper tycoon Robert Maxwell and a former girlfriend of Epstein, when she worked as a 15-year-old pool girl at Donald Trump’s Mar A Lago Hotel in Palm Beach.
Ms Roberts claims she was ‘groomed’ as a sex slave by Epstein and recruited other young girls who were also allegedly sexually molested by him.
As many as 60 other women have come forward claiming they were coerced by Epstein into having sex.
One says she was just 13 when she was allegedly raped by him.
Ms Maxwell has vehemently denied Ms Roberts’s allegations.
After being jailed, Epstein had to register as a sex offender.
He paid restitution to dozens of victims but, with the agreement
‘There’s a likelihood Andrew will be drawn in’
of then US Attorney Alexander Acosta – now President Trump’s labour secretary – he escaped far more serious charges that could have resulted in a life sentence.
Prosecutors also dropped cases against alleged ‘potential co-conspirators’. In return, Epstein provided federal investigators with ‘unspecified information’.
In a separate trial for which a date has yet to be set, Edwards issuing the US government on behalf of t wo girls in t he sex investigation.
He claims the government violated the Crime Victims’ Rights Act, which states victims should be kept informed of a possible hearings and ‘reasonably heard’ over pleas and sentencing.
None of Epstein’s accusers were informed of his plea deal.
Epstein could be stripped of his criminal prosecution immunity if the second case succeeds, possibly leading to a federal trial for the sex crimes.
Edwards’s lawyer, Jack Scarola, said: ‘ If the case is successful a nd wit h t he a greement can-celled, Epstein’s immunity from federal criminal prosecution will be revoked.
‘That means he, plus his named co-conspirators and his unnamed co-conspirators will face the possibility of federal prosecution.
‘In a subsequent criminal trial it is very likely that many of the victims will be called to give evidence and have their stories heard.’
Asked if Prince Andrew would be drawn into the second case he said: ‘There is a reasonable likelihood that would occur.’
LISTED AS COURT EXHIBIT: The photograph of Prince Andrew with Virginia Roberts taken in 2001 when she was about 17. Below: Jeffrey Epstein