LONDON – Prince Andrew was not indicted in the Ghislaine Maxwell sex trafficking case, but her verdict is bad news for the man who is ninth in line to the British throne.
With the conclusion of the Maxwell case, attention will now turn to a US civil lawsuit in which the plaintiff claims Maxwell and longtime girlfriend Jeffrey Epstein took her to London, New York and the US Virgin Islands to have sex with Andrew when she was a minor. .
Andrew denies the allegations, but Wednesday’s verdict shows that at least one U.S. jury was willing to believe the young women who were trafficked by Epstein and Maxwell in a criminal case where the standard of proof is higher than in civil cases.
“To the extent that there is an overlap of evidence regarding Prince Andrew’s case, it certainly does not bode well,” said Bradley Simon, a former U.S. federal prosecutor who now works as a defense attorney in complex civil cases. “But, as I said, each case depends on its own specific facts, and the judges will always instruct the jury on that.”
Maxwell was convicted on Wednesday of sex trafficking and charges of conspiracy after a month-long trial in New York.
While U.S. criminal cases must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, civil defendants may be ordered to pay financial damages if they are found liable based on a preponderance of the evidence.
The verdict is problematic for Andrew because he has long been friends with Maxwell, daughter of the late rags-to-riches media mogul Robert Maxwell. Even after Epstein was charged with sex crimes, Andrew failed to distance himself from her.
These connections have already degraded the prince’s status.
Andrew was forced to give up his duties as a working member of the royal family following a disastrous 2019 interview with the BBC that only increased public concern over his ties to Epstein and Maxwell. The prince was heavily criticized for his explanation of why he maintained contact with Epstein after the financier was accused of sexual misconduct and for not showing empathy for Epstein’s victims.
Although the Maxwell trial did not offer any sensational new allegations about Andrew, it reminds people once again of the cumbersome allegations and weakens his position with the public, said Chris Scott of Slateford, a London law firm specializing in reputation issues.
“It just adds credibility to people’s stories,” Scott told the Associated Press. “You have a criminal court ruling now in the United States that supports that there was human trafficking going on. In a sense, it’s going to be a lot harder for people to find out that it’s all invented when you have that credibility built. So I think “It will be very problematic for him.”
The civil lawsuit against Andrew was filed in August last year by Virginia Giuffre, who says she was 17 when she was flown to London to have sex with Andrew at Maxwell’s house in Belgravia, an exclusive neighborhood home to many foreign embassies and wealthy expatriates. Other meetings with Andrew took place at Epstein’s home in Manhattan and the US Virgin Islands, according to her trial.
Giuffre, who was not part of the criminal case, has described Maxwell as a “Mary Poppins” character who made young girls feel comfortable when they were lured onto Epstein’s web.
It was at Maxwell’s home in London that a picture of Andrew with his arm around Giuffre’s waist is said to have been taken – a picture that has long been central to Giuffre’s claims. In the BBC interview, Andrew suggested that the picture had been falsified.
“I have no recollection of ever having met this lady,” he said. “None whatsoever.”
Given the high stakes for Andrew, a question about the civil lawsuit is whether it will ever come before a lawsuit. Gloria Allred, who represents a number of Epstein’s victims, told the BBC she expects the prince’s lawyers will file a series of procedural challenges to try to derail the case.
This strategy has already been exhibited.
Andrew initially denied that he had been legally served with court documents informing him of the trial. So in October, his lawyers asked Judge Lewis A. Kaplan to drop the case, saying the prince never sexually abused Giuffre and that they believed she was suing Andrew “to obtain another payday at his expense and at his expense. of her loved ones. ”Last week, they raised another challenge, arguing that Giuffre’s lawsuit should be dismissed because she no longer lives in the United States.
Andrew met Maxwell while studying history at the University of Oxford in the early 1980s.
Like her formidable and well-connected father, Ghislaine Maxwell became a master of networking and built a long list of contacts in the world of wealth and power in which she grew up.
After graduating, she worked for the family’s publishing empire in a variety of roles. In 1991, at the age of 29, she became her father’s American envoy after he bought the New York Daily News amid efforts to compete with media mogul – and New York Post owner – Rupert Murdoch.
Robert Maxwell died later that year when he fell off his yacht – Lady Ghislaine – in the Canary Islands, an event some saw as an accident and others as a suicide. Investors quickly discovered that his wealth was an illusion: Maxwell had diverted hundreds of millions of pounds from his companies’ pension funds to support his publishing empire.
Shortly after her father’s death, Ghislaine Maxwell was photographed sitting next to Epstein during a memorial event at the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan.
Maxwell brought stellar power to her relationship with Epstein, and the two soon attended parties with the likes of Bill Clinton and Donald Trump. Andrew would later invite Maxwell and Epstein to Windsor Castle and Sandringham, Queen Elizabeth II’s country estate.
Ian Maxwell said Thursday that the family still believes his sister is innocent and will support efforts to appeal her verdict.
“We are very disappointed with the verdict,” the family said in a statement Wednesday. “We have already started the appeal tonight and we believe she will eventually be justified.”
Andrew has in recent years tried to distance himself from Epstein, who killed himself in 2019 while awaiting a trial on charges of sex trafficking.
Andrew told the BBC that he saw Epstein no more than three times a year and sometimes stayed in one of his homes when he was in the United States
The prince said he stopped meeting Epstein in 2006 after he became aware of an investigation into sexual abuse that eventually led to the financier serving 13 months in prison. Andrew said he had one last meeting with Epstein in December 2010 to tell him they could not stay in touch.
“It would be a considerable stretch to say he was a very, very close friend,” Andrew said.
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