The U.S. attorney in Manhattan said Monday that prosecutors and FBI officials handling the Jeffrey Epstein sex-abuse investigation had reached out to Britain's Prince Andrew, but the royal who has faced allegations related to Epstein had thus far provided "zero cooperation."
U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman made the assertion outside of Epstein's New York City mansion at a news conference meant to raise awareness about a state law that provides a window for those sexually abused as children to sue their abuser even if the statute of limitations has expired.
In response to questions from reporters, Berman said the investigation into Epstein's abuse and those who might have facilitated it was ongoing - even though he killed himself while in federal custody on sex trafficking charges last year. As a part of that case, Berman said investigators had reached out to Prince Andrew.
One of Epstein's accusers, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, claims she was paid by Epstein for sexual encounters with the prince when she was 17 years old.
Buckingham Palace did not immediately comment on the developments.
"The original charges against Jeffrey Epstein contained a conspiracy charge, and we alleged that there were conspirators involved, and Jeffrey Epstein couldn't have done what he did without the assistance of others, and I can assure you that our investigation is moving forward," Berman said.
It is unclear if investigators consider Andrew anything more than a witness in the case. Berman declined to comment on a timetable for the investigation.
Epstein, a politically connected multimillionaire with ties to both President Donald Trump and former president Bill Clinton, was arrested in July on federal charges that he abused dozens of young girls at his homes in Manhattan and Palm Beach, Florida. Those who say they were victimized by Epstein hailed the development, believing he would finally be brought to justice.
Years earlier, Epstein had resolved similar allegations with a plea deal to state charges in Florida that allowed him to spend just more than a year in jail and leave daily for work. The arrangement was widely criticized as too lenient.
A month after his arrest last year, Epstein was found hanging in his jail cell, and authorities concluded he killed himself.
Berman's office ultimately charged two jail staffers who allegedly failed to check in on Epstein, and his prosecutors vowed to continue scrutinizing those who might have helped aid Epstein carry out his abuse.
There is also ongoing litigation against his estate; the top law enforcement officer in the U.S. Virgin Islands recently filed a lawsuit alleging that Epstein trafficked and sexually abused girls and women on his private island as recently as 2018.
Andrew has long been dogged by his association with Epstein and the allegations from Giuffre. A photo, reportedly taken in 2001, shows the prince with his arm around her bare waist, and visible in the background is Ghislaine Maxwell, a British socialite who accusers say was Epstein's girlfriend and madam.
In November, after Andrew gave a BBC interview on the subject for which he faced widespread criticism, the prince announced he was stepping back from his royal duties and issued a statement saying that he was willing to cooperate with authorities.
"I continue to unequivocally regret my ill-judged association with Jeffrey Epstein. His suicide has left many unanswered questions, particularly for his victims, and I deeply sympathize with everyone who has been affected and wants some form of closure. I can only hope that, in time, they will be able to rebuild their lives," he said.
He said that he was "willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations, if required."
In the BBC interview, Andrew claimed he had "no recollection" of meeting Giuffre and questioned the authenticity of the photo showing the two of them together. He claimed the photo was odd in part because "public displays of affection are not something that I do, and because of his casual dress.
"When I go out in London, I wear a suit and tie," he said.
Intense interest by the news media over the fate of Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, have pulled tabloid interest away from Andrew, but with Berman's remarks, that focus will likely swing back.
Prince Andrew appeared in public with his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, earlier this month when the two arrived for church near the queen's Sandringham estate. The appearance came a day after the queen sealed a deal with her grandson, Prince Harry, about the future roles for him and Meghan, which included the couple taking up residence in Canada.
This article was written by Matt Zapotosky and William Booth, reporters for The Washington Post.