On Monday, billionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein was arraigned on two sex trafficking-related charges in a Manhattan federal court. He pleaded not guilty. The new allegations against the convicted sex offender claim that Epstein ran a sex trafficking operation involving underage girls. The accusations state Epstein would bring girls to his home to sexually abuse them before encouraging them to recruit others in what the Palm Beach police detective investigating the case called a "sexual pyramid scheme."
Epstein, who was convicted in 2008 of soliciting an underage girl for prostitution, has boasted a slew of famous and powerful friends, including President Bill Clinton and President Donald Trump. (The sitting President noted his friend's interest in young women in 2002, telling New York Magazine that Epstein "likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side.") Another one of Epstein's prominent friends? Prince Andrew, who is eighth in line to the British throne.
Epstein, who is elusive as to just how he conducts his business and makes his billions, told New York Magazine that he likes to "invest in people," has been linked to the 59-year-old royal since the 1990s. The Duke of York, father to Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, and ex-husband of Sarah Ferguson, has denied any connection with the registered sex offender despite reports of the two often dining together.
As the evidence against Epstein continues to pile up during his indictment, here is everything we know about the connection with the royal family and Epstein.
How Did Prince Andrew Meet Jeffrey Epstein?
According to The Guardian, the pair met through British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein's former girlfriend and longtime friend, whom introduced Prince Andrew and Epstein at some point in the '90s.
Who Is Ghislaine Maxwell?
Maxwell is a British socialite and the daughter of media mogul Robert Maxwell. She is accused of working as a "madam" for Epstein. According to court documents reviewed by the Miami Herald, lawyers for one of Epstein’s alleged victims claimed Maxwell helped Epstein traffic young girls for his powerful friends.
Is This The First Time The Royal Family Has Been Embroiled In Epstein's Scandal?
In 2011, Vanity Fair reported that in a sworn deposition by a former employee at Epstein’s Palm Beach estate, Prince Andrew attended "naked pool parties" where he was massaged by "a harem of adolescent girls." Prince Andrew denied the accusations to Vanity Fair, stating that he was never aware of such parties to begin with. In a 2015 lawsuit, a woman alleged that between 1999 and 2002, when she was a minor, she was forced to have sexual relations with Prince Andrew on multiple occasions after being "loaned out" to him by Epstein.
Ferguson, ex-wife of Prince Andrew, also reportedly received money from Epstein to pay off a debt she owed her former assistant.
"I personally, on behalf of myself, deeply regret that Jeffrey Epstein became involved in any way with me,” Ferguson told the Evening Standard newspaper in 2011 (per the New York Post). "I abhor pedophilia and any sexual abuse of children and know that this was a gigantic error of judgment on my behalf. I am just so contrite I cannot say. Whenever I can, I will repay the money and will have nothing ever to do with Jeffrey Epstein ever again."
Has Prince Andrew Or The Palace Commented On Anything?
In 2015, Buckingham Palace issued a statement to The Guardian vehemently denying the accusations against Prince Andrew.
"This relates to long-running and ongoing civil proceedings in the United States to which the Duke of York is not a party," reads the statement. "As such we would not comment in detail. However, for the avoidance of doubt, any suggestion of impropriety with underage minors is categorically untrue."
Refinery29 has reached out Buckingham Palace for further comment.
This is a developing story.