Prince Andrew made a public statement Sunday following the release of a 2010 video showing him at the financier Jeffrey Epstein’s mansion, saying he was “appalled” by the recent accusations of sexual abuse lobbed at his former friend.
Epstein, 66, died in an apparent suicide last week while he was being held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York City as he awaited trial for charges of sex trafficking and conspiracy. He had pleaded not guilty to the charges, which carried a jail sentence of up to 45 years.
The connections between Epstein and Prince Andrew have resurfaced in recent weeks with the unsealing of documents, made public this month, alleging that the British royal made sexual advances on women recruited for him by the British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein’s former girlfriend.
The two women named in the incident, Johanna Sjoberg and Virginia Roberts Giuffre, previously alleged to have been recruited by Epstein’s associates to perform massages that quickly devolved into sexual abuse. Giuffre said she was recruited at 15 years old.
Prince Andrew said in a statement released by Buckingham Palace on Sunday that allegations he was involved in any “exploitation” were “abhorrent.”
“The Duke of York has been appalled by the recent reports of Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged crimes,” the statement said.
“His Royal Highness deplores the exploitation of any human being and the suggestion he would condone, participate in or encourage any such behavior is abhorrent.”
Though Buckingham Palace has never denied a friendship between the disgraced financier and the prince, the royal family has repeatedly denied sexual relations between Prince Andrew and Giuffre or other underage girls.
Epstein and Prince Andrew reportedly formed a close friendship through the late ’90s and early 2000s after being introduced by Maxwell. The prince stepped down from his 10-year role as the special UK representative for trade in 2011 following criticism over his close friendship with Epstein, who by then was a registered sex offender.
The royal statement follows a video released by the Daily Mail on Sunday reportedly taken outside Epstein’s Manhattan home in December 2010, which shows the Duke briefly peering out and waving from behind the mansion’s front door.
According to the Daily Mail, the footage was taken less than an hour after Epstein left the house with a young woman. The duke was also photographed strolling alongside Epstein in Central Park in 2010.
Shortly after legal documents related to the sex-trafficking charges against Epstein — which laid out allegations by Sjoberg and Giuffre — were published last week, the Queen was photographed sitting next to her son as they were driven to the Crathie Kirk church in Scotland near the Queen’s holiday home.
Buckingham Palace also issued a statement to CBS News last week, saying “any suggestion” against Prince Andrew of “impropriety with underage minors is categorically untrue.”
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