Photo An­drew must long to for­get is back ... in new trial of his shamed friend Ep­stein

The Mail on Sunday - - News - From Caro­line Gra­ham and Greg Wood­field IN LOS AN­GE­LES AND MI­AMI

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

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