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The Duke of York’s accuser who claims she was trafficked to have sex with the royal has said “others must be held accountable” following the conviction of predatory socialite Ghislaine Maxwell
Virginia Roberts, who has brought a civil sex case against Andrew and features in an infamous picture with the duke and his friend Maxwell, has “faith” others will face justice.
Maxwell, 60, who was labelled “dangerous” by the prosecution, faces the rest of her life in jail for helping to entice vulnerable teenagers to disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein’s various properties for him to sexually abuse between 1994 and 2004.
She claims she was trafficked by Epstein, the duke’s former friend, to have sex with Andrew when she was aged 17 and a minor under US law. Andrew has denied all the allegations.
Following Maxwell’s conviction on Wednesday, Ms Roberts said she had “lived with the horrors of Maxwell’s abuse” and commended the four women who testified during the trial.
She added: “I hope that today is not the end but rather another step in justice being served. Maxwell did not act alone. Others must be held accountable. I have faith that they will be.”
Maxwell’s New York trial heard how she summoned a 14-year-old girl to an orgy, groped another victim and laid a schoolgirl outfit out for a third accuser before a sexualised massage with her former boyfriend Epstein because she “thought it would be fun”.
The court in the Southern District of New York heard Maxwell imposed a “culture of silence … by design” at Epstein’s properties, where staff were told to “see nothing, hear nothing and say nothing”.
While the “horrific abuse” was going on, the jury was told how the defendant lived a “life of luxury” – with the prosecution describing the trafficking as a “means to support her lifestyle”.
Maxwell will appeal against her conviction for luring young girls for Epstein to molest, her brother Kevin has said.
Gloria Allred, a lawyer who represents 20 accusers of Epstein, said it was now a matter of having to “wait and see” if the civil sexual assault case in the US against the duke ever gets to trial.
She told BBC Breakfast that “to prove a criminal case, the burden of proof is beyond a reasonable doubt” but “only a preponderance of evidence must be shown in order for there to be the possibility of the defendant being held liable” in a civil case.
She added: “I anticipate many legal arguments on behalf of Prince Andrew, having to do with jurisdiction, the power of the court and other such issues – so we will have to wait and see if his case ever gets to trial or not.”
Andrew’s legal team has been attempting to have Miss Roberts’ case – which is entirely separate to the Maxwell proceedings – thrown out, and in the run up to Christmas raised a number of issues. The judge in the case is expected to hold a hearing next week into the development.
Since the opening of the case the duke’s lawyer has argued a 2009 settlement Andrew’s accuser entered into with Epstein, who was found dead in his cell while awaiting a sex trafficking trial, releases him and others “from any and all potential liability”.
The document had been sealed but is due to be opened and made public early next week following a ruling by another court.
The full indictment against Maxwell listed six charges, including conspiracy to entice minors to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, enticement of a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts and conspiracy to transport minors with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity.
Maxwell was also accused of transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, sex trafficking conspiracy and sex trafficking of a minor.
The 60-year-old was convicted of five of the charges but found not guilty of enticing a minor to engage in illegal sex acts – which alleged the defendant coerced one of the accusers, who testified under the pseudonym “Jane”, to travel from Florida to Manhattan so that Epstein could have sex with her.
Lisa Bloom, who represents a number of Maxwell and Epstein’s accusers, said she does not see “any chance” of Maxwell’s legal team successfully appealing against the verdict.
Jill Greenfield, head of serious injury at law firm Fieldfisher, represented alleged UK victims of Epstein in civil claims recently settled, she said: “This welcome verdict confirms yet again that no one is above the law.
“The message to victims is loud and clear – wealth and contacts are no protection and predators cannot hide. I hope this leads to more victims of sexual assault finding their voice and courage. Only by listening and reacting to them will we prevent such heinous crimes.”