Scandal: U.S. authorities want to interview Jeffrey Epstein and may wish to quiz his friend, Prince Andrew. It comes after Esptein’s former personal ‘masseuse’, Virginia Roberts, said she was recruited as a sex slave
Daily Mail | Mar 5, 2011
By Sharon Churcher
The FBI is to reopen its investigation into disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein following Mail on Sunday revelations about his sexual exploitation of teenage girls and his links with high-profile individuals, including Prince Andrew.
The Bureau wants to interview Esptein’s former personal ‘masseuse’, Virginia Roberts, after she revealed last week that she was recruited as Epstein’s sex slave when she was just 15.
Last night, in an exclusive interview with The Mail on Sunday, Virginia confirmed she will fully co-operate with the new investigation, which could have serious implications for Epstein and embarrass Prince Andrew, who she met on three occasions.
‘I will talk to the FBI,’ Virginia said.‘I am anxious. I am still frightened of him because he has so much power. I had to put this behind me.
‘But in the end this is not for me. It’s because I’m afraid there are a lot of girls still doing what I did for him, eight years after I left. I want to be the one who breaks the chain.’
The news comes as the Government appeared to withdraw support for the Prince’s role as a trade envoy, with Business Secretary Vince Cable refusing to say whether he should stay in the post.
A source close to the inquiry said the FBI decided to reopen the case because of Virginia’s revelations to The Mail on Sunday last week.
He said: ‘Now that Virginia has come forward and identified herself as a victim who was flown around the world by Epstein for the purpose of committing a criminal act, this is being taken very seriously.
The FBI is interested in pursuing the allegations published by The Mail on Sunday.’
Now a married mother of three living in Australia, Virginia alleged that her services were offered to a number of politicians, businessmen and international statesmen.
She also met Prince Andrew. The first time was at the London house of Ghislaine Maxwell, daughter of the disgraced former media tycoon Robert Maxwell.
The second time was at Epstein’s grand New York townhouse and the third on Epstein’s private Caribbean island.
The new FBI investigation will undoubtedly be of grave concern to Prince Andrew, who was forced to accept that his continued friendship with the financier, a convicted child sex offender, was unwise.
On Friday, he severed all ties with Epstein – although the new investigation could reveal further damaging details of their association.
Virginia’s account of her meetings with the Prince was published under the restrictions of British libel laws, notoriously the most draconian in the Western world. There will be no such restraint on her testimony to FBI investigators.
It is highly likely that detectives will also wish to question the Prince as part of their investigation. If subpoenaed he may be forced to plead diplomatic immunity based on his role as business envoy for UK Trade and Investment. Last week David Cameron faced calls from the floor of the Commons to remove the Prince from his post.
If Andrew refuses to co-operate with US authorities he would, in all likelihood, be banned from entering the States, which would seriously affect his ability to fulfil his role as a trade envoy.
Virginia said: ‘I have lived with these secrets for years. Stepping forward wasn’t easy. My husband and family come first and I don’t want to do anything that could possibly hurt them.’
It is believed the new investigation will centre on Epstein’s procuring of young girls and paying them to provide sexual favours for his business associates at his homes in New York, Florida, the US Virgin Islands and New Mexico.
Epstein’s palatial houses were secretly covered by a network of hidden video cameras, raising concerns that compromising footage exists of a number of rich and powerful individuals useful to Epstein’s work as a money manager.
‘If Virginia’s allegations are correct, Epstein may have committed offences not covered by the non-prosecution agreement,’ our source said.
There is no suggestion of any sexual contact between Virginia and the Prince, or that Andrew knew that Epstein paid her to have sex with his friends.
The previous FBI investigation was shelved after Epstein’s lawyers struck a plea bargain with prosecutors at the US Attorney’s office in Southern Florida in which the money manager pleaded guilty to solicitation of prostitution and a single charge of procuring minors for prostitution.
The financier was sentenced to 18 months in prison in 2008.
The Mail on Sunday can reveal that under the terms of the secret deal Virginia was assigned a lawyer, Robert Josefsberg, whose fees were paid by Epstein.
In a letter from the US Justice Department, Virginia was told Josefsberg would work out a settlement between her and Epstein.
Josefsberg attended America’s Yale Law School with Alan Dershowitz, who happened to be representing the tycoon during the criminal case.
Referring to the inadequacy of the original investigation, the source said: ‘Virginia was interviewed by phone from Australia for maybe 45 minutes before the secret plea bargain was cut.’
Virginia agreed the original questioning was insufficient but felt powerless to do anything about it. ‘I felt no one was listening to me,’ she said last night, ‘including maybe my own lawyers.
‘I told my lawyers I thought that some of the men I had to have sex with were powerful and rich, but they didn’t even show me pictures that would have helped me identify them.
‘I am happy that finally there are people who aren’t in Jeffrey’s pockets who are standing up to protect me and saying, “This was not right, this was not acceptable.” People who don’t want this to happen to their daughters.’
After the case, more than 20 other girls launched legal actions against Epstein. At least 17 have been settled out of court.
A spokesman for the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida said last night: ‘We cannot comment, confirm or deny the existence of any investigation or on our intention to open or close a matter.’