Ghislaine Maxwell was convicted of capturing adolescents so that Jeffrey Epstein abuse them. What implications does this have for your prince Andrew?
The verdict comes as the royal family member’s attorneys are preparing to go to the same federal court in Manhattan, New York, to defend him against damages allegations brought by one of Epstein’s victims.
So what, if anything, does the Maxwell trial mean to the prince?
The one on trial was Ghislaine Maxwell, no one else
The most obvious and important element to consider in Maxwell’s verdict is that it only applies to what she did. No one else was on trial. The Duke of York does not face criminal charges in the US He is being sued by Virginia Roberts Giuffre, one of Epstein’s victims.
In fact, no evidence was heard at trial that Prince Andrew had been involved in the illegal actions.
But one of his closest ex-friends is now a convicted abuser.
During his 2019 interview with the BBC, Prince Andrew told Newsnight that his relationship with Epstein was the product of his long friendship with Ghislaine Maxwell.
Specifically, he said that he and Epstein had met in 1999 and that his closeness to Maxwell was the only reason he had gotten to know the financier in the first place. However, during the trial, Maxwell’s accusers did not present her as an aide to Epstein, but as a woman who was central to his plans to commit abuse.
Had Ghislaine Maxwell been acquitted, it would have immediately taken away the credibility of Virginia Roberts Giuffre’s testimony, because she alleges in court documents that the British high society woman “spent years overseeing and managing Epstein’s sex trafficking ring, and actively recruited underage girls. “
So the verdict means that Giuffre’s lawyers can argue in the case against Prince Andrew that there is no reasonable doubt that Maxwell played a role in Epstein’s abuse. The prince’s relationship with Ghislaine Maxwell is now as important to the evidence in the damages case as is his relationship with Epstein.
Epstein was not just a casual acquaintance
Documents presented to the court by Giuffre repeatedly insist that Epstein was so close to the duke that he was present at his 40th birthday party and has their contact numbers. The Maxwell case did not overturn any of these arguments.
During the trial, prosecutors released new photos of Maxwell and Epstein to emphasize their closeness. And one photo shows the couple relaxing in the log cabin inside the queen’s vast private estate in Scotland, Balmoral.
The photo is believed to have been taken in 1999, when Prince Andrew allegedly invited the couple to stay at the castle.
Although casual acquaintances of the royal family fail to stay in one of the safest and most isolated places in the UK, this would not be evidence to argue that the duke was involved or even knew of any wrongdoing.
Virginia Giuffre stood out, but did not appear
One of the witnesses against Maxwell, known only as “Carolyn,” said at trial that it was Virginia Roberts, as Giuffre was known at the time, who introduced her to Epstein.
And a former Epstein employee recalled seeing Giuffre at the financier’s Florida property. So why didn’t Giuffre present evidence?
Well, first, she was not named in the indictment as one of the victims of abuse in the Maxwell trial. So there was no legal need for the jury to consider what she has to say.
But it could have been cited. Prosecutors have been silent. Some reporters in New York speculate that Giuffre was not summoned because her media recognition would have been a distraction factor.
Or because Maxwell’s attorneys had latched onto the alleged inconsistencies in his media appearances.
It is also possible that prosecutors, who were grappling with the different laws of each US state regarding the age of sexual consent, had kept it out to simplify the trial.
But as the newspaper said The New York Times, his testimony was felt during the trial. It appears that his testimony will remain uncontracted until, possibly, evidence is presented in his case for damages against Prince Andrew.
Prosecutors in the Maxwell case argue a British connection
They presented evidence about Epstein’s activities at Maxwell’s London home, where Giuffre argues that he would later be trafficked to Prince Andrew.
The evidence the jury heard, however, was not related to that specific testimony.
The witness known only as Kate said that she and Maxwell became friends in 1994 and that he invited her for tea at his home in Belgravia (central London). She said Maxwell later convinced her to have a sexual encounter with Epstein at that site. Kate would also later travel to the financier’s home in Florida, where Maxwell is said to have given her a school uniform to wear.
His evidence was clearly part of an effort by prosecutors to demonstrate how Maxwell identified women to satisfy Epstein’s demands.
But Kate was above the age of consent in the UK and therefore the judge ruled that the jury could not take her story into account as evidence of a crime committed by Maxwell; and his lawyers rejected the inclusion of his story in the trial.
More relevant to the Duke of York is the fact that Kate’s story did not justify any allegations about Maxwell trafficking young women for Epstein’s friends.
While the world has seen the photo of the prince with Virginia Roberts, as he was known back then, in the home of Ghislaine Maxwell, he only appeared in Kate’s London evidence in a peripheral way: the court heard Maxwell bragging of his name and of other rich and famous people he knew.
Prince Andrew confirmed to Newsnight that he had been to Maxwell’s home in Belgravia before, but said he did not recall meeting Giuffre or having the photo taken.
So given that nothing was heard at Maxwell’s trial linking Prince Andrew to the abuses in London, one of Giuffre’s most explosive arguments remains unproven.
The “lolita express”
Larry Visoski, Epstein’s pilot, told the jury that he had served as a pilot to take Prince Andrew and other celebrities to luxury destinations. The Duke of York had previously told Newsnight that he had been on that plane.
The women who accuse Epstein say the jet was the “lolita express,” a means of transporting both the financier’s confidants and the girls he had tricked into controlling them.
If the damage case stands, the flight logs can be important evidence for either side, depending on what they reveal about who flew where and when.
One of the people accusing Maxwell, “Jane”, recalled being on the plane with the Duke of York, but did not accuse him of bad acting.
The jury also cleared Maxwell of prompting Jane to travel from Florida to Manhattan so that Epstein could have sex with her.
Does Maxwell’s conviction have implications for Scotland Yard?
The London Metropolitan Police, known as Scotland Yard, has so far decided, after reviewing material from US civil courts and the media, not to take action on allegations of crime in the UK related to Jeffrey Epstein.
Police have never confirmed whether they have investigated Giuffre’s allegations against Prince Andrew, following their policies of rarely confirming the identity of a living person who is part of their investigations.
The question is whether Maxwell’s criminal conviction in a case involving London situations will convince the police to rethink their position.
Given that the London-related evidence that Kate presented does not cover a crime and is only related to the deceased financier and Maxwell, it is difficult to see the London force changing their position.