An undated handout photo taken at an undisclosed location and released on August 9, 2021 by the United States District County for the Southern District of New York shows Prince Andrew, Virginia Giuffre, and Ghislaine Maxwell posing for a photo. Image Credit: AFP

NEW YORK: After a New York judge ruled on Wednesday that a sexual assault lawsuit brought against Britain’s Prince Andrew can proceed, AFP profiles his accuser, Virginia Giuffre.

Early life

Giuffre, now 38, was born Virginia Roberts into a troubled home in Sacramento, California in August 1983. She ran away several times and spent time living on the streets.

In 2000, at the age of 16, she worked a summer job as a spa attendant at former US president Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence in Palm Beach, Florida.

Andrew's legal team declines comment on US court decision
The legal team for Britain's Prince Andrew said on Thursday they would not be making any comment after his lawyers failed to persuade a US judge to dismiss Virginia Giuffre's lawsuit accusing him of sexually abusing her when she was a teenager.
In a decision made public on Wednesday, US District Judge Lewis Kaplan said Giuffre, 38, could pursue claims that Andrew battered her and intentionally caused her emotional distress while the late financier Jeffrey Epstein was trafficking her.
"The legal team have advised me that there will be no comment," a spokeswoman said.
The 61-year-old prince, the second son of 95-year-old Queen Elizabeth, has denied Giuffre's accusations that he forced her to have sex more than two decades ago at a London home of former Epstein associate Ghislaine Maxwell, and abused her at two Epstein properties.
The judge's decision means Andrew could be forced to give evidence at a trial which could begin between September and December 2022 if no settlement were reached.
The prince was forced to step down from public duties in 2019 because of his connections to Epstein and in the wake of a disastrous BBC TV interview which he had hoped would clear his name, but instead led to ridicule and further questions.
Buckingham Palace said on Wednesday it would not comment on an ongoing legal matter.

It was there, Giuffre says, that she met British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell who she said offered her a job as a travelling masseuse for a rich financier: Jeffrey Epstein.

Groomed by Epstein

Giuffre says Epstein sexually abused her from the very first massage at his Palm Beach mansion. He and Maxwell then began trafficking her to his wealthy friends, she alleges.

She told the 2020 Netflix documentary “Jeffrey Epstein, Filthy Rich” that she had been “like a slave” to them.

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Giuffre added that she had been a “perfect victim” because she had been sexually abused “plenty of times” before meeting Epstein, who killed himself in prison in 2019 while awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges.

His death came a day after a US judge ordered unsealed a legal document in which Giuffre named several high-profile personalities as perpetrators of sexual abuse against her. It included Andrew.

Accusations against Andrew

Giuffre sued Andrew in August 2021, alleging that he sexually assaulted her in 2001 when she was 17 and a minor under American law.

She says she was instructed by Epstein and Maxwell to have sex with the prince at Maxwell’s home in Belgravia in London.

Giuffre’s lawyers submitted a photo of her with Andrew and Maxwell as evidence.

Giuffre also accuses the royal of assaulting her at Epstein’s home in New York, and on Epstein’s private island in the US Virgin Islands.

Andrew, 61, has not been criminally charged and has vehemently and repeatedly denied her allegations. He has said he has no recollection of ever having met her.

Andrew’s lawyers have accused Giuffre of seeking “another payday” with a “baseless lawsuit.”

Other lawsuits

Giuffre agreed to drop a sexual abuse lawsuit against Epstein for $500,000 in 2009. It purported to protect “other potential defendants” but US judge Lewis Kaplan has ruled it does not cover Andrew.

Giuffre settled a defamation suit against Maxwell for an undisclosed sum in 2017 and in 2019 sued celebrity lawyer Alan Dershowitz, who strongly denies her allegations that she was forced to have sex with him.

Maxwell trial

Despite being Maxwell and Epstein’s most famous accuser, Giuffre was not part of the criminal case that saw Maxwell convicted on five counts of grooming and recruiting minors for Epstein last month.

Her name cropped up during the trial, though.

Flight logs mentioned during the trial revealed that Giuffre flew 32 times with Epstein between the late 1990s and early 2000s.

She says she first met Andrew on a Tangier to Luton flight in March 2001.

During testimony, one of the victims, “Carolyn,” said she was 14 years old when Giuffre, a friend of hers, took her to meet Epstein.

Prince Andrew and Giuffre, in 2022 and 2019 file pictures respectively. Image Credit: AFP

“Virginia asked me if I wanted to make some money,” said Carolyn, recalling that Giuffre told her she got $300 for each massage, which always ended in sex.

Giuffre said in the Netflix documentary that she “escalated up the ladder very quickly with Epstein.”

“I did whatever he needed. Unfortunately, I didn’t see my life getting any better, so I stayed,” she said.

Carolyn told the Daily Mail recently that Giuffre had told her in 2001 that she had slept with Andrew.

Where is she now?

Giuffre escaped Epstein’s clutches in 2002 when she flew to Thailand to attend massage training school. There she met her future husband Robert Giuffre. They live in Australia with their three children.

Last year, Giuffre founded “Speak Out, Act, Reclaim,” a support group for victims of sex trafficking and sexual abuse.