Duchess of York defends ex-husband Prince Andrew against racy claims

Fergie Defends Prince Andrew, Will Palace Take Legal Action?
Fergie Defends Prince Andrew, Will Palace Take Legal Action?

(Reuters) - Buckingham Palace stepped up its denial that Prince Andrew had sex with an underage girl introduced to him by a disgraced U.S. financier, and named the alleged victim whose anonymity was preserved in court documents filed last week.

Buckingham Palace had already denied on Friday allegations made in Florida court documents by the woman, who said she was forced as a minor by financier Jeffrey Epstein to have sex with several people, including Prince Andrew, the second son of Queen Elizabeth.

Another of those named by the woman, well-known American attorney Alan Dershowitz, said he has assembled a team of "eminent" lawyers to fight the sexual abuse allegations made against him in last week's filing in Florida federal court.

The allegations come from a woman who is named in the filing as Jane Doe #3, but Buckingham Palace referred to her as Virginia Roberts. Several British newspapers have also named the woman.

Dershowitz represented Epstein against criminal sex abuse charges, which ended in a plea deal six years ago under which Epstein served jail time for state charges but avoided federal prosecution. Last week's filing was made in a long-running civil litigation brought against the U.S. government over the plea agreement by women who say they were abused by Epstein.

On Sunday, Buckingham Palace issued its second denial of wrong-doing by Prince Andrew. "It is emphatically denied that HRH The Duke of York had any form of sexual contact or relationship with Virginia Roberts. The allegations made are false and without any foundation," a palace spokesman said.

Dershowitz told Reuters that his team of attorneys included Thomas Scott, a former Florida U.S. attorney and former federal judge, and Kendall Coffey, another former Florida U.S. Attorney, as well as lawyers in Boston, New York and London whom he declined to name.

He said the allegations against him were false, and that the attorneys who filed them - Florida attorney Brad Edwards and University of Utah law professor Paul Cassell - knew they were false.

Dershowitz, a Harvard University professor emeritus, said he planned to file complaints with the attorney disciplinary boards of Florida and Utah seeking to have them disbarred. Knowingly making false court filings is grounds for disbarment in both states.

Dershowitz also said he would file a motion to join in the Florida civil action, by making a sworn statement in Florida federal court denying the charges.

He said the allegations against him were especially unfair because they were made in a court case where he was not a party, so that he had no chance to respond directly.

"It's like Josef K in Kafka," he said. "The difference is that Josef K lost. In the end I will prevail. They took on the wrong innocent person."

Edwards and Cassell said in a joint statement that they looked forward to Dershowitz's filing.

"It is not unethical to provide legal representation to the victim of international sex trafficking ring and to believe in the allegations such a victim makes – even when those allegations are made against powerful people," they said.

Buckingham Palace also denied on Sunday that the Queen had met Virginia Roberts.

The woman's father, Sky Roberts, was quoted by the Daily Mail as saying that his daughter had been introduced to the Queen while visiting London with Epstein.

When asked about this, a palace spokesman said: "there is nothing to suggest that this claim is true. We have no record of such a meeting."

On Saturday, some British newspapers published an old photograph of Prince Andrew holding the waist of the woman, then aged 17. The age of consent is 16 in Britain, but it is 18 in much of the United States.

People making a criminal complaint of rape in England have a legal right to anonymity unless they choose to waive it.

(Additional reporting by David Milliken; Writing by Brendan Pierson and Frances Kerry; Editing by Tomasz Janowski)

More to see:
What a 200-year-old whale is teaching scientists about aging
Best candidates to fill each of the 6 NFL head coaching vacancies
The apocalyptic moment a thunderstorm erupted inside a volcanic ash cloud