January 7, 2015 / 6:04 PM / 4 years ago

UK's Prince Andrew steps up denial of underage sex

LONDON/NEW YORK (Reuters) - (Corrects story published on Jan 4 to add source to first paragraph. Also corrects paragraph four to show that Buckingham Palace has not identified Jane Doe #3 as Virginia Roberts.)

Britain's Prince Andrew gestures as he delivers an opening speech at a seminar on Japan-UK security cooperation in Tokyo September 30, 2013. REUTERS/Issei Kato

Buckingham Palace denied on Sunday that Prince Andrew had sex with an underage girl introduced to him by a disgraced U.S. financier, and named by some British newspapers as 17-year-old Virginia Roberts.

The Palace had already denied on Friday allegations made in Florida court documents by a woman, who said she was forced as a minor by financier Jeffrey Epstein to have sex with several people, including Andrew, the second son of Queen Elizabeth.

Another of those named by the woman, well-known American attorney Alan Dershowitz, said he has assembled a team of “eminent” lawyers to fight the sexual abuse allegations made against him in last week’s filing in Florida federal court.

The allegations come from a woman who is named in the filing as Jane Doe #3. Some British newspapers identified Jane Doe #3 as Virginia Roberts.

Buckingham Palace has issued two denials about the allegations against Prince Andrew: One relating to claims in court documents made by Jane Doe #3 and another relating to claims made by British media who cited allegations by Virginia Roberts.

On Sunday, Buckingham Palace issued its second denial of wrong-doing by Prince Andrew. “It is emphatically denied that HRH The Duke of York had any form of sexual contact or relationship with Virginia Roberts. The allegations made are false and without any foundation,” a palace spokesman said.

Dershowitz represented Epstein against criminal sex abuse charges, which ended in a plea deal six years ago under which Epstein served jail time for state charges but avoided federal prosecution. Last week’s filing was made in a long-running civil litigation brought against the U.S. government over the plea agreement by women who say they were abused by Epstein.

Dershowitz told Reuters that his team of attorneys included Thomas Scott, a former Florida U.S. attorney and former federal judge, and Kendall Coffey, another former Florida U.S. Attorney, as well as lawyers in Boston, New York and London whom he declined to name.

He said the allegations against him were false, and that the attorneys who filed them - Florida attorney Brad Edwards and University of Utah law professor Paul Cassell - knew they were false.

Dershowitz, a Harvard University professor emeritus, said he planned to file complaints with the attorney disciplinary boards of Florida and Utah seeking to have them disbarred. Knowingly making false court filings is grounds for disbarment in both states.

Dershowitz also said he would file a motion to join in the Florida civil action, by making a sworn statement in Florida federal court denying the charges.

He said the allegations against him were especially unfair because they were made in a court case where he was not a party, so that he had no chance to respond directly.

“It’s like Josef K in Kafka,” he said. “The difference is that Josef K lost. In the end I will prevail. They took on the wrong innocent person.”

Edwards and Cassell said in a joint statement that they looked forward to Dershowitz’s filing.

“It is not unethical to provide legal representation to the victim of international sex trafficking ring and to believe in the allegations such a victim makes – even when those allegations are made against powerful people,” they said.

Buckingham Palace also denied on Sunday that the Queen had met Virginia Roberts.

The woman’s father, Sky Roberts, was quoted by the Daily Mail as saying that his daughter had been introduced to the Queen while visiting London with Epstein.

When asked about this, a palace spokesman said: “There is nothing to suggest that this claim is true. We have no record of such a meeting.”

On Saturday, some British newspapers published an old photograph of Prince Andrew holding the waist of Roberts, then aged 17. The age of consent is 16 in Britain, but it is 18 in much of the United States.

People making a criminal complaint of rape in England have a legal right to anonymity unless they choose to waive it.

Additional reporting by David Milliken; Writing by Brendan Pierson and Frances Kerry; Editing by Tomasz Janowski

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