Britain's Prince Andrew may have immunity from prosecution for his alleged involvement with an international sex trafficking ring run by his former friend Jeffrey Epstein, as a result of a plea deal Epstein struck with the U.S. government, according to a British newspaper report.
According to the U.K.'s Sunday Times, Epstein secured a “non-prosecution agreement,” with U.S. prosecutors in 2007, which shielded both Epstein and any “potential co-conspirators” from several criminal charges in relation to the sex trafficking ring, which catered to wealthy clients.
Documents from a Florida court obtained by the paper reportedly claim that Epstein used his “significant social and political connections,” to obtain the deal, and allege that Andrew and former president Bill Clinton made “efforts” on Epstein's behalf.
A woman, known only as “Jane Doe 3,” claims in a civil lawsuit that she was procured by Epstein as a “sex slave,” and was forced to have intimate relations with Prince Andrew when she was 17 years old. British Newspaper the Mail On Sunday has revealed what is says is the woman's real name, but the claim has not been independently verified.
The lawsuit is being brought by several women who allege that they were victims sex crimes perpetrated by Epstein, and alleges that Federal prosecutors improperly failed to consult with Epstein's victims before agreeing to his plea deal, according to Politico.
Epstein, at one time a banker at Bear Stearns, and the Prince were reportedly friends until the prince broke off contact in 2009, after the banker was sentenced to 18 months in prison for soliciting sex from a 14-year-old girl at his Florida mansion in 2008.
Former Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz is also named in the suit, and announced Saturday that he is planning legal action against Jane Doe 3, who claims that she was also forced to have sex with Dershowitz.
“My goal is to bring charges against the client and require her to speak in court,” Dershowitz told the BBC. “If she believes she has been hurt by me and Prince Andrew, she should be suing us for damages.
"I welcome that lawsuit. I welcome any opportunity that would put her under oath and require her to state under oath these false allegations.”
Buckingham Palace released a new statement Saturday in which it “emphatically denied” the claims made against the Prince. An earlier statement had said "any suggestion of impropriety with under-age minors" by the duke was "categorically untrue."
BBC royal correspondent Peter Hunt said the latest denial was "quite remarkable" given Prince Andrew is fifth in line to the throne.
The situation "has the potential to seriously damage Prince Andrew and the institution he represents", he added.