Prince Andrew has issued a new statement on his "friendship" with Jeffrey Epstein, but it has not set many minds at ease. Prince Andrew was associated with Epstein for years, and is therefore implicated in some of his alleged child sex trafficking. The Duke of York strongly denies these claims.
Of all the public figures who knew Epstein, Prince Andrew may be the one under the most scrutiny these days. The British royal has been photographed with Epstein many times over the years, and speculators have voiced doubts that he could go all that time without being aware of Epstein's alleged crimes. In his new statement, Prince Andrew says that that is exactly what happened.
"It is apparent to me since the suicide of Mr. Epstein that there has been an immense amount of media speculation about so much in his life," the prince began, according to a report by BBC. "This is particularly the case in relation to my former association or friendship with Mr. Epstein. Therefore I am eager to clarify the facts to avoid further speculation."
Prince Andrew explained that he had known Epstein for a full 20 years before his suicide this month, having met him in 1999. He wrote that during all that time, "I saw him infrequently and probably no more than once or twice a year."
"I have stayed in a number of his residences," he added. "At no stage during the limited time I spent with him did I see, witness or suspect any behaviour of the sort that subsequently led to his arrest and conviction."
The prince did, however, admit that he had made mistakes when it comes to Epstein. He wrote that he regretted seeing Epstein again after his release from prison in 2010, following his conviction for procuring for prostitution a girl below age 18. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 18 months behind bars for the crime, but was granted generous "work release" terms after just 14 weeks.
"I have said previously that it was a mistake and an error to see him after his release," Prince Andrew wrote in his new statement. "I can only reiterate my regret that I was mistaken to think that what I thought I knew of him was evidently not the real person, given what we now know."
"I have tremendous sympathy for all those affected by his actions and behaviour," the prince added. "His suicide has left many unanswered questions and I acknowledge and sympathise with everyone who has been affected and wants some form of closure."0comments
The prince ended by stating his continued confusion over Epstein, claiming he was unable to reconcile the person he knew with the accounts of his alleged victims. However, for his own part, Prince Andrew tried to disassociate himself from Epstein and his alleged crimes entirely.
"I deplore the exploitation of any human being and would not condone, participate in, or encourage any such behavior," he wrote.