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

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.

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Duchess of York defends ex-husband Prince Andrew against racy claims
Prince Andrew has spoken briefly about claims he had sex with an underage girl. Giving a speech in Davos the Duke of York reiterated his denials of the allegations.
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 04: Prince Andrew, Duke of York attends the semi-final match between Noval Djokovic and Grigor Dimitrov on centre court at The Wimbledon Championships at Wimbledon on July 4, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
ASCOT, ENGLAND - JUNE 17: (L-R) Prince Andrew, Duke of York and Prince Harry attend day one of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 17, 2014 in Ascot, England. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images for Ascot Racecourse)
ASCOT, ENGLAND - JUNE 20: Prince Andrew, Duke of York attends Day 4 of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 20, 2014 in Ascot, England. (Photo by Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - OCTOBER 24: (CHINA OUT) Prince Andrew, Duke of York speaks during the 10th anniversary of Harrow International School Beijing on October 24, 2014 in Beijing, China. (Photo by ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images)
ISTANBUL, TURKEY - NOVEMBER 29: Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (R) meets with Duke of York Prince Andrew in Istanbul, Turkey on November 29, 2014. (Photo by Turkish Foreign Ministry/Cengiz Oguz Gumrukcu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
ISTANBUL, TURKEY - NOVEMBER 29: Duke of York Prince Andrew attends to the Turkish-British Tatli Dil (mellifluence) Forum in Istanbul, Turkey on November 29, 2014. (Photo by Ahmet Dumanli/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
ASCOT, ENGLAND - JUNE 19: Queen Elizabeth ll, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Harry and Prince Andrew, Duke of York arrive in an open carriage to attend Ladies Day at Royal Ascot on June 19, 2014 in Ascot, England. (Photo by Anwar Hussein/WireImage)
ASCOT, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 18: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 48 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Prince Andrew, Duke of York & Queen Elizabeth II watch the horses in the parade ring as they attend Day 2 of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 18, 2014 in Ascot, England. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and the Prince Andrew, the Duke of York (L) speak with John Maynard, 80, from Stoke on Trent via the internet on a Nominet Trust display, during a reception to recognise the British technology sector at Buckingham Palace in central London on June 9, 2014. AFP PHOTO/POOL/ STEVE PARSONS (Photo credit should read Steve Parsons/AFP/Getty Images)

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)

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