Americas

America gripped as Andrew’s offer shifts focus to Epstein’s victims

Prince Andrew’s offer to talk to “any appropriate law enforcement agency” in their investigations into his friend and convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein has added a new impetus to a story that has gripped America.

The US Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York, which announced in August its investigation into conspiracy to commit sex trafficking would continue even after Epstein’s death, declined to comment on Andrew’s offer.

Like the FBI, which is also continuing to investigate Epstein’s circle, they are unlikely to tell us when, where and how they might conduct any interview with a potential witness. It is not how federal investigators do their business.

In the absence of Epstein himself, who died in his prison cell, and his elusive former partner Ghislaine Maxwell, who has avoided the cameras for months now, the prince has become a focal point for American watchers of the story.

For a country that is busily devouring Netflix drama The Crown, the presence of a member of the royal family in this scandal has added fuel to the flames.

Andrew’s interview at the weekend intensified the calls for him to speak to law enforcement, and some of those calls are coming from powerful voices.

Gloria Allred, the high-profile civil rights lawyer who represents a number of Epstein’s alleged victims, said this week that anyone, “prince or pauper”, should want to assist investigators.

This prince, she said, should not wait for an invitation but “get on a plane and make it happen”.

“He has stated his case in the court of public opinion,” she told reporters in Los Angeles, “let him state what he knows to law enforcement.”

More compelling were the words of the woman sitting to her right. Identified only as Jane Doe 15, she said she was raped by Epstein when she was 15.

She made no accusation against Duke of York, but said: “Prince Andrew and any others that are close to Epstein should come forward and give a statement under oath on what information they have.”

It is that question, of what visitors to Epstein’s homes in New York, Florida, Virgin Islands and elsewhere saw and heard, and what they did or didn’t do as a result, that has become the central discussion point now.

There are dozens of young women who have made accusations about Epstein and many are seeking compensation from his estate. Ms Allred says more have come forward at the weekend.

They appreciate they are being heard now but wish they had been noticed at the time.

As Jane Doe 15 said: “We were not hidden.”

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