Prince Andrew named in newly released court files
Prince Andrew is among high-profile figures named in newly released US court documents detailing connections of sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
A judge ordered the release of the records as part of a legal case related to Epstein associate Ghislaine Maxwell.
The legal papers include a previously reported claim of groping by Prince Andrew, which he has denied.
Former US presidents Bill Clinton and Donald Trump are also named, though neither is accused of illegality.
The much-hyped trove – covering about 900 pages – did not appear to reveal any new bombshell revelations about Epstein, who died in jail in 2019, as he awaited federal sex-trafficking charges.
However, more documents in the case are expected to be released in the coming days.
Of more than 100 people named, some are accused of wrongdoing, while others in the court records are making allegations or are potential witnesses.
The legal filings highlight the well-connected social circle in the orbit of Epstein, who pleaded guilty to soliciting prostitution from a minor in 2009.
When ordering the release of the files, New York Judge Loretta Preska said many of those named had already been identified by the media or in Maxwell’s criminal trial.
She added that many others did not raise an objection to the release of the documents. Judge Preska also ordered that some names remain redacted because they would identify victims of sexual abuse.
The files include references to Johanna Sjoberg, who has claimed that Prince Andrew groped her breast while sitting on a couch inside Epstein’s Manhattan apartment in 2001.
Buckingham Palace has previously said her allegations are “categorically untrue”.
In one deposition, which has already been reported, Ms Sjoberg alleged that Prince Andrew put his hand on her breast to pose for a photo with another accuser, Virginia Giuffre, and a puppet that said “Prince Andrew” on it.
In 2022, the British royal paid millions to Ms Giuffre to settle a case she filed alleging he sexually abused her when she was 17 years old.
Prince Andrew said he had never met Ms Giuffre and denied her allegations.
Former US President Clinton is also named in the court documents, although there is no implication of any illegality. When contacted for comment, his representatives referred to a statement he issued in 2019 saying he “knows nothing” about Epstein’s crimes.
According to the records, Ms Sjoberg testified that Epstein once told her that Mr Clinton “likes them young, referring to girls”. Mr Clinton had an affair with a 22-year-old White House intern while he was US president.
The files include testimony from Maxwell confirming that Mr Clinton had travelled on board Epstein’s private jet, but she did not know how many times.
Mr Clinton travelled on Epstein’s plane on what were described as humanitarian trips to Africa in the early 2000s and at the time praised Epstein as a committed philanthropist, though said he later cut ties with him.
The former US president’s 2019 statement said he was accompanied on his trips aboard Epstein’s jet by staff and supporters from his charity, the Clinton Foundation.
“His Secret Service detail travelled on every leg of every trip,” his statement added.
The court documents include a section where Maxwell’s lawyer seeks to debunk a media report that, shortly after he left office in January 2001, Mr Clinton travelled to Epstein’s private island in the Caribbean.
A lawyer for Maxwell said that the former US president “did not, in fact travel to, nor was he present on, Little St James Island between January 1, 2001 and January 1, 2003”.
The lawyer added that if the claim were true, Secret Service agents would have been required to submit travel logs of the trip.
The document also includes testimony from Ms Sjoberg saying that Epstein told her he would contact Donald Trump on their way to one of his New Jersey casinos.
“Jeffrey said, ‘Great, we’ll call up Trump’,” she testified, after pilots said their plane could not land in New York and would need to stop in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
The documents contain no alleged wrongdoing by Mr Trump. Ms Sjoberg is asked at one point in the deposition whether she ever gave Mr Trump a massage, and she replies: “No.”
She also testified that she met musician Michael Jackson and magician David Copperfield through Epstein, although she did not allege any wrongdoing by them.
French modelling agent Jean-Luc Brunel, who killed himself in a Paris jail in 2022 while awaiting rape charges, is also mentioned multiple times.
In her deposition, Ms Giuffre says she was forced to have sex with prominent figures including New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson. Before his death last year, Mr Richardson denied ever meeting Ms Giuffre, and he was not charged with any crime.
Alfredo Rodriguez, a household employee who was tasked with security for Epstein, described Maxwell as “the boss” in his testimony, according to the court files.
Mr Rodriguez, who died in 2015, was told to carry cash at all times to give to high school girls, and the girls who were helping recruit for Epstein, the documents say.
Epstein’s death in 2019 was ruled to be a suicide by the New York medical examiner.
Maxwell, the daughter of publishing tycoon Robert Maxwell, is currently serving a 20-year prison sentence for her role as a recruiter for Epstein. Her lawyers are appealing against the sentence.
Lawyers for Maxwell said in a statement cited by CNN on Wednesday: “She has consistently and vehemently maintained her innocence.”
First appeared on www.bbc.com