BBC: US bishop resigns amid abuse cover-up accusations

Bishop Richard Malone in 2006 Richard Malone has been accused of mishandling complaints of abuse

The Vatican has announced the resignation of a US bishop who faced widespread criticism for his handling of sexual abuse claims.

Bishop Richard J Malone of New York state’s Buffalo oversaw one of the country’s most scandal-hit dioceses.

It is facing more than 200 lawsuits and an FBI investigation.

In a statement, Mr Malone said that “after much prayer and discernment” he had decided the diocese would be better served by a new bishop.

At 73, he is leaving earlier than the 75-year mark that is the mandatory age for bishops to offer their retirement.

“As you are well aware, we have faced tremendous turmoil over the past year-and-a-half,” Mr Malone said in the statement.

“Some have attributed this to my own shortcomings, but the turmoil also reflects the culmination of systemic failings over many years in the worldwide handling of sexual abuse of minors by members of the clergy.”

Mr Malone was accused of cover-ups and faced embarrassing leaks.

One contained Mr Malone’s interactions with Church lawyers which appeared to try and limit the damage of abuse allegations.

Secret audio recordings this year suggested Bishop Malone was worried a scandal involving sexual harassment of a seminarian by a pastor “could be the end of me as bishop”.

Another leak showed that he was hesitant about removing a priest whom he referred to as a “sick puppy”.

‘Healing and renewal’

The diocese had avoided any major scandals until 2018 when complaints of abuse started emerging.

In March of that year, Mr Malone released a document showing 42 priests who had been accused of sexual abuse, mostly from past decades.

But his former assistant said an earlier draft contained upwards of 100 names.

A recent poll conducted by The Buffalo News suggested that 86% of local Catholics wanted the bishop to go. Fewer than 3% of those surveyed said he should stay on.

A petition signed by more than 12,000 people called for his departure.

“I have concluded after much prayer and discernment that the spiritual welfare of the people of the Diocese of Buffalo will be better served by a new bishop who perhaps is better able to bring about the reconciliation, healing and renewal that is so needed,” Mr Malone said.

Mr Malone will be replaced on a temporary basis by Albany’s bishop, Edward B Scharfenberger.

“I will be doing a lot of listening and learning,” the new bishop said in a statement.

‘Shot in the vagina’

The same forces that feed into the violence against migrant women are also undermining climate action.

Maria Meza, a migrant woman from Honduras, runs away from tear gas with her five-year-old twin daughters Saira and Cheili at the US-Mexico border on November 25, 2018 [File: Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon]
Maria Meza, a migrant woman from Honduras, runs away from tear gas with her five-year-old twin daughters Saira and Cheili at the US-Mexico border on November 25, 2018 [File: Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon]

Last December, the Trump administration enacted a scheme requiring Central American asylum seekers to remain in Mexico while their legal proceedings drag on indefinitely in the United States.

The Migrant Protection Protocols policy – a handily perverse euphemism – is the approximate equivalent of calling the Exxon Valdez oil spill the Marine Life Protection Initiative. As various human rights and advocacy organisations have pointed out, the border programme has exposed tens of thousands of asylum seekers to violence; including rape, kidnapping and assault, in the unsure border regions of Mexico.

In light of the surplus of rapes and other abuses already documented as a result of so-called “protection”, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women – marked annually on November 25 – is an ideal occasion to reflect on the violence facing migrant women in an era of mass migration.

Pervasive violence

As the UN Women website observes : ” Rape is rooted in a complex set of patriarchal beliefs, power, and control that continue to create a social environment in which sexual violence is pervasive and normalised.”

For an idea of the extent of normalisation, just recall Patriarch-in-chief President Donald Trump‘s own previous advice about fondling women without their consent: “Grab ’em by the p****.”

Migrant women, of course, are particularly vulnerable to “grabbing” – and much worse – especially given that crimes against migrants are not generally reported or prosecuted. And for Central American women transiting Mexico to the US border, sexual assault is frequently par for the course.

Lest anyone assume that this validates the Trumpian vision of Mexico as composed of rapists and criminals , however, just recall the epidemic of rape in the US’s own military – not to mention rampant claims of sexual abuse of immigrant children held at US detention facilities.

‘Shot in the vagina’

It bears emphasising, too, that many of the women who flee Central America are fleeing a system of patriarchal violence that the US itself has played no small part in sustaining.

Following the 2009 US-abetted right-wing coup in Honduras, for example, a surge in femicides and all manner of other crimes was accompanied by a climate of impunity that has yet to subside. According to a New York Times essay , a 2018 study conducted in the Honduran city of San Pedro Sula indicated that more than 96 percent of women’s murders went unpunished – an arrangement presumably facilitated by reports that officials in the “agency entrusted with investigating women’s deaths [were] killing women themselves”.

Murder methods have included being “shot in the vagina” and “skinned alive”.

In addition to throwing a bunch of money at homicidal Central American security forces, the US underwrites capitalist patriarchy by pushing punitive economic policies – pardon, supporting “development” and “investment” – that favour the financial domination of the United States’ local, predominantly male and obsequiously neoliberal elite acolytes.

This ensures that, while US corporate interests in the region remain sacrosanct, the lives of the poor are expendable – and the lives of women even more so. After all, as far as capitalism is concerned, there can never be too much inequality.

Patriarchal contexts

Meanwhile, across the ocean, violence against women is also tied up with migration. Last year, the UN found that in Libya – a primary jumping-off point for maritime migration to Europe – the ” overwhelming majority of [migrant] women and older teenage girls interviewed … reported being gang-raped by smugglers or traffickers.”

In Libya‘s migrant detention centres, too, rape is rife. And, thanks to an agreement between the Italian government and the Libyan coastguard, migrants intercepted at sea are often returned to these very same centres.

Never mind that centuries of European colonialism and exploitation of the African continent have played no small role in determining present migration patterns; “fortress Europe” has appointed itself unquestionable victim of the migrant crisis, condemning the actual victims to a criminalised existence that only increases the chances of their further victimisation.

For many migrant women, then, life becomes one continuous migration between patriarchal contexts in which sexual violence is pervasive and normalised.

And for those who do make it to Europe, things do not necessarily improve. Amnesty International has documented how, for a great number of females in Greek refugee camps, ” the insecurity and dangers they experience in Greece are a constant reminder of the violence they sought to escape”.

Among the interviewees at one camp was a Cameroonian woman who had to flee abuse twice. Leaving Cameroon on account of an abusive husband, she made it to Istanbul, where she found a job at a sweatshop. When her employer there started sexually abusing her as well, she fled again, this time to Greece.

Violate women, violate the earth

But physical violence and socioeconomic inequality are not the only ways in which patriarchal systems drive migration. Consider reports that climate change could generate more than 200 million refugees by 2050 – and that climate change disproportionately affects women.

Consider also an August article at The New Republic, headlined The Misogyny of Climate Deniers, which catalogues a ” growing body of research linking gender reactionaries to climate-denialism” and finds that “male reactionaries motivated by right-wing nationalism, anti-feminism, and climate denialism increasingly overlap”.

According to a 2014 paper published by the International Journal for Masculinity Studies, the whole notion of climate change is in fact perceived as a “threat to the masculinity of industrial modernity”.

By extension, then, patriarchal capitalism imperils not only women but the planet itself.

Now, as the migrant crisis rages on and humanity hurtles towards self-destruction , the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women should serve as a reminder that, without first smashing the patriarchy, we will never even stand a chance.

INTERACTIVE: Violence against women

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jeffrey Epstein ‘Suicide’ : US attorney general blames ‘screw-ups’ for suicide

William BarrUS Attorney General William Barr has called the death of paedophile Jeffrey Epstein “a perfect storm of screw-ups”.

In an interview with AP News, Mr Barr said the jailhouse suicide, which came as Epstein awaited trial, was due to a “series” of mistakes.

His comments come after two guards who were responsible for Epstein were charged with falsifying prison records.

Lawyers for Epstein’s victims are urging Prince Andrew, a longtime friend of Epstein, to speak to US police.

The US attorney general said he had personally reviewed CCTV footage that confirmed nobody entered the area were Epstein was detained on the night he died.

“I can understand people who immediately, whose minds went to sort of the worst-case scenario because it was a perfect storm of screw-ups,” Mr Barr said in an interview as he flew to the US state of Montana for an event on Thursday.

Epstein, a wealthy financier who partied with the rich and famous, died in Manhattan’s Metropolitan Correctional Center while awaiting trial on charges of sexually abusing girls as young as 14.

Earlier this week, two guards tasked with watching over Epstein’s jail unit were charged with sleeping and browsing the internet during their shift as Epstein died.

Officers Tova Noel and Michael Thomas were supposed to check on Epstein every 30 minutes. According to an indictment, the guards had not done their 03:00 or 05:00 checks.

Epstein was placed on suicide watch after he was found on 23 July on his cell floor with bruises on his neck.

He was taken off suicide watch about a week before his death, though kept on a heightened watch that required him to have a cellmate.

Prince Andrew: Epstein ‘a constant sore in the family’

But his cellmate was transferred on 9 August to another prison a day before Epstein’s death, which a medical examiner ruled to be suicide by hanging.

Mr Barr, who leads the US Department of Justice, said: “I think it was important to have a roommate in there with him and we’re looking into why that wasn’t done, and I think every indication is that was a screw-up.

“The systems to assure that was done were not followed.”

He added that New York prosecutors who are continuing to investigate Epstein’s crimes “say there is good progress being made” in the case.

“And I’m hopeful in a relatively short time there will be tangible results,” he continued.

Executors of Epstein’s estimated $577m (£450m) estate are seeking a judge’s approval to create a fund to settle claims by his victims in civil cases.

Jeffrey Epstein was charged with sexually abusing dozens of girls

Meanwhile, victims of Epstein are calling for Prince Andrew, a former friend of Epstein, to submit to an FBI interview.

The Duke of York announced on Wednesday he was stepping back from royal duties amid the fallout from his recent BBC Newsnight interview.

One of Epstein’s accusers, Virginia Giuffre, has claimed she was forced to have sex with the duke three times.

Prince Andrew has “categorically” denied it.

Presentational grey line

Prince Andrew & the Epstein Scandal: The Newsnight Interview was shown on BBC Two on 16 November 2019 and can be seen on BBC iPlayer in the UK. The full interview can also be seen on YouTube.

Can we still believe William Barr?

Prince Andrew stepping back from royal duties

Prince Andrew: Epstein ‘a constant sore in the family’

The Duke of York says he is stepping back from royal duties because the Jeffrey Epstein scandal has become a “major disruption” to the Royal Family.

Prince Andrew, 59, said he had asked the Queen for permission to withdraw for the “foreseeable future”.

He said he deeply sympathised with sex offender Epstein’s victims and everyone who “wants some form of closure”.

The duke has faced a growing backlash following a BBC interview about his friendship with the US financier.

In a statement, he said: “I continue to unequivocally regret my ill-judged association with Jeffrey Epstein.

“His suicide has left many unanswered questions, particularly for his victims, and I deeply sympathise with everyone who has been affected and wants some form of closure.

“I can only hope that, in time, they will be able to rebuild their lives.”

He added that he was “willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations, if required”.

BBC royal correspondent Jonny Dymond said the move was “a big step” and was “pretty much without precedent in modern times”.

He said it showed a realisation that the interview had “upset a lot of people”, adding: “It was more than just bad publicity for Prince Andrew, it was clearly damaging the wider institution of the Royal Family.”

Earlier, a letter written to the Times newspaper by Buckingham Palace cast doubt on when the duke first met Epstein.

The 2011 letter says they met in the early 1990s, not in 1999 as Prince Andrew said in his BBC interview.

The letter was published after the Times reported on the existence of a photo of the prince with 17-year-old Virginia Giuffre, then known as Roberts, who would later testify that she had been forced to have sex with him.

The duke has always denied any form of sexual contact or relationship with her.

Prince Andrew with Virginia Giuffre, and Ghislaine Maxwell standing behind, in early 2001 (said to have been taken at Maxwell’s London home)The duke was pictured with Ms Giuffre in Ghislaine Maxwell’s London home in 2001

In his interview with the BBC’s Newsnight on Saturday, the duke said he met Epstein “through his girlfriend back in 1999” – a reference to Ghislaine Maxwell, who had been a friend of Prince Andrew since she was at university.

The duke said he could not recall ever meeting Ms Giuffre and recalled that he went to Pizza Express in Woking and then returned home the night she claims they first met.

He sought to cast doubt on her testimony that he was “profusely sweating” in a nightclub, saying that a medical condition at the time meant he could not perspire.

The duke said meeting Epstein for a final time in 2010 was “the wrong decision”, but said the “opportunities I was given to learn” about business meant he did not regret the friendship.

Prince Andrew, left, and Jeffrey Epstein in New York's Central ParkThe prince said he regretted this 2010 meeting with Epstein

The duke’s website says he carries out official duties for the Queen, focusing on promoting economic growth and skilled job creation.

Over the past two months he has carried out overseas engagements in Australia, United Arab Emirates and Thailand.

BT became the latest in a series of organisations to distance themselves from Prince Andrew, following the interview.

In a statement, the firm said it had been working with iDEA – which helps people develop digital, business and employment skills – since 2017 but “our dealings have been with its executive directors not its patron, the Duke of York”.

“In light of recent developments we are reviewing our relationship with the organisation and hope that we might be able to work further with them, in the event of a change in their patronage,” a spokeswoman said.

Standard Chartered Bank and KPMG also announced they were withdrawing support for the duke’s business mentoring initiative Pitch@Palace. Sources told the BBC the decisions were made before the interview.

Four Australian universities also said they would not be continuing their involvement in Pitch@Palace Australia.

Prince Andrew cancelled a planned visit to flood-hit areas of Yorkshire on Tuesday, the Sun newspaper reported.

Prince Andrew & the Epstein Scandal: The Newsnight Interview was shown on BBC Two on 16 November 2019 and can be seen on BBC iPlayer in the UK. The full interview can also be seen on YouTube.

Prince Andrew: Royalty has failed Epstein’s accusers, says lawyer

download (7).jpg

The Duke of York should apologise for his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein, a lawyer for the convicted sex offender’s accusers has said.

Spencer Kuvin, who represents several unnamed alleged victims, said “royalty has failed them”.

He called Prince Andrew’s interview with BBC Newsnight on Saturday “sad” and “depressing”.

The prince has stood by his decision to take part, despite critics describing it as a “car crash”.

Amid the backlash, Prince Andrew is now facing renewed calls to tell US authorities about his friendship with US financier Epstein – who, at the age of 66, took his own life while awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges in the US.

The duke has been facing questions over his ties to Epstein for several years.

On Monday, Mr Kuvin told the Today programme: “It was depressing that he [Prince Andrew] really did not acknowledge the breadth of his friendship with this despicable man and apologise.

“The mere fact that he was friends with a convicted sex offender and chose to continue his relationship with him – it just shows a lack of acknowledgement of the breadth of what this man [Epstein] did to these girls.”

Prince Andrew, left, and Jeffrey Epstein in New York's Central ParkPrince Andrew said this meeting with Epstein in 2010 was to end their relationship

In the interview with Newsnight, Prince Andrew – the Queen’s third child – said he never suspected Epstein’s criminal behaviour during visits to his three homes.

But Mr Kuvin said he did “not think there was any way” the prince could have avoided seeing what was going on, “with young girls being shuttled in and out of those homes”.

Mr Kuvin said the focus of Epstein’s accusers had now turned to potential co-conspirators.

It has led to questions about the role Epstein’s former girlfriend, Ghislaine Maxwell, may have played in procuring underage girls for the financier.

Ms Maxwell denies any wrongdoing.

Lawyer Lisa Bloom – who represents five other Epstein accusers – joined the calls for Prince Andrew to be interviewed by US authorities following his BBC interview.

She told the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme: “I think he’s made things worse for himself in this interview and I think it’s more likely the authorities are going to want to speak to him now – and they should want to.”

Lisa Bloom
Lawyer Lisa Bloom has also questioned why Prince Andrew did not apologise about his friendship with Epstein

Gloria Allred – another lawyer, also representing one of Epstein’s accusers – told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “Now he’s been in the court of public opinion, he should testify to the FBI.”

She said she did not know how the prince “could have not known that there were underage girls” present during his visits to Epstein’s homes in New York, Palm Beach and the Virgin Islands.

Meanwhile, Labour’s shadow trade secretary, Barry Gardiner, said Prince Andrew should do whatever he can to help Epstein’s victims.

He said: “By saying what he knows of the time that he spent with his former friend, can only be the right thing to do.”

In the Newsnight interview, Prince Andrew said he will testify under oath “if push came to shove” and his lawyers advised him to.

It comes as the prince continues to face heavy criticism for the interview, which many royal commentators branded a PR disaster.

University of Huddersfield students will discuss a motion to put pressure on the duke to resign as chancellor later. In response, the university said Prince Andrew’s “enthusiasm for innovation and entrepreneurship is a natural fit” with its work.

Prince Andrew with Virginia Giuffre, and Ghislaine Maxwell standing behind, in early 2001 (said to have been taken at Maxwell’s London home)The duke was pictured with his accuser in Ghislaine Maxwell’s London home in 2001

In his BBC interview, Prince Andrew “categorically” denied having any sexual contact with Virginia Giuffre, known at the time as Virginia Roberts.

The first occasion, she said, took place when she was aged 17.

People close to Prince Andrew said he wanted to address the issues head-on and did so with “honesty and humility” in speaking to Newsnight.

In a lengthy interview, which UK viewers can watch in full on BBC iPlayer or on YouTube elsewhere in the world, the prince said that:

  • On the date Virginia Giuffre says he had sex with her – 10 March, 2001, he had taken his daughter to Pizza Express in Woking for a party before spending the night at home
  • He dismissed claims he was sweating profusely because he had a “peculiar medical condition” meaning he cannot sweat, caused by an overdose of adrenaline in the Falklands War
  • He had commissioned investigations into whether a photograph of him with Ms Giuffre had been faked, but they were inconclusive
  • Speaking out about his relationship with the financier had become almost “a mental health issue” for him
  • He would testify under oath about his relationship with Ms Giuffre if “push came to shove”, and his lawyers advised him to
  • He was unaware of an arrest warrant against Epstein when he invited the financier to Princess Beatrice’s 18th birthday party at Windsor Castle
  • He did not regret his friendship with Epstein because of “the opportunities I was given to learn” from him about trade and business

Prince Andrew questioned about Epstein, Sex Ring, American accuser

epsteinandrew63

Prince Andrew: ‘Going to Pizza Express in Woking is an unusual thing for me to do’

The Duke of York has “categorically” denied having any sexual contact with an American woman, who says she was forced to have sex with him aged 17.

Answering questions about his links to convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein in a BBC interview, Prince Andrew said the alleged incidents “never happened”.

Virginia Giuffre, one of Epstein’s accusers, claimed she was forced to have sex with the prince three times.

The prince said he was at home with his children on one of the occasions.

Prince Andrew, who is the Queen’s third child, has been facing questions for several months over his ties to Epstein, a 66-year-old American financier who took his own life while awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges.

Prince Andrew says he has wracked his brains but cannot recall any incident involving Virginia Roberts.

Virginia Giuffre – then called Virginia Roberts – has said she was forced to have sex with Prince Andrew between 2001 – when she was 17 – and 2002, in London, New York and Epstein’s private island in the US Virgin Islands.

Speaking to BBC Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis, the prince said: “It didn’t happen. I can absolutely categorically tell you it never happened.”

“I have no recollection of ever meeting this lady, none whatsoever.”

He said Ms Giuffre’s account of him “profusely sweating” and “pouring with perspiration” when they danced at the club on the night in 2001 when she says they first had sex was impossible, because he had a medical condition preventing him from perspiring.

In an extraordinary interview, which you can watch in full on BBC iPlayer in the UK or YouTube elsewhere in the world, the duke said:

  • He had investigations carried out to establish whether a photograph of him with Ms Giuffre was faked, but they were inconclusive
  • He would testify under oath if “push came to shove” and his lawyers advised him to
  • He was unaware of an arrest warrant against Epstein when he invited him to Princess Beatrice’s 18th birthday party at Windsor Castle
  • He does not regret his friendship with Epstein because of “the opportunities I was given to learn” from him about trade and business
  • Speaking out about his relationship with the financier had become almost “a mental health issue” for him

Addressing Ms Giuffre’s claims that she had dined with the prince, danced with him at a nightclub, and went on to have sex with him at the house of Ghislaine Maxwell, a friend of the prince, in Belgravia, central London, he said “there are a number of things that are wrong with that story”.

Prince Andrew on Epstein: ‘There was no indication, absolutely no indication’

He said the date when Ms Giuffre says he had sex with her was 10 March 2001, when he had taken his daughter Beatrice to Pizza Express in Woking for a party before spending the night at home.

“Going to Pizza Express in Woking is an unusual thing for me to do,” he said. “I remember it weirdly distinctly.”

No memory

Ms Giuffre described him providing her with alcohol at a nightclub, but Prince Andrew said: “I don’t drink, I don’t think I’ve ever bought a drink in Tramps whenever I was there.”

On claims he was sweating, he said: “I have a peculiar medical condition which is that I don’t sweat or I didn’t sweat at the time,” he said, blaming it on “an overdose of adrenaline in the Falklands War”.

He said he had only started to be able to sweat again “in the recent past”.

Asked about a photograph of him and Ms Giuffre being taken at Ghislaine Maxwell’s house, he said he had “absolutely no memory” of it.

Prince Andrew with Virginia Giuffre, and Ghislaine Maxwell standing behind, in early 2001 (said to have been taken at Maxwell’s London home)The duke was pictured with his accuser in Ghislaine Maxwell’s London home in 2001

“Investigations that we’ve done” have been unable to prove whether the photograph was faked, he said, “because it is a photograph of a photograph of a photograph”.

Prince Andrew said he did not recall going upstairs in that house, said he was not dressed as he usually would be if he was in London and added “we can’t be certain as to whether or not that’s my hand”.

“I’m at a loss to explain this particular photograph,” he said.

A thick skin

On the further accusation that he had sex with her in New York, the duke denied he was present at Epstein’s home that day, although he had been travelling in the US.

He also denied the claim he had sex with her on Epstein’s private island with a group of seven or eight other girls. “Absolutely no to all of it,” he said.

Prince Andrew said he never suspected Epstein’s criminal behaviour on his visits, describing the house as a busy place with staff like Buckingham Palace.

Footage appears to shows Prince Andrew inside Jeffrey Epstein’s New York residence in 2010

He said: “I live in an institution at Buckingham Palace which has members of staff walking around all the time and I don’t wish to appear grand but there were a lot of people who were walking around Jeffrey Epstein’s house. As far as I aware, they were staff.”

But he denied that there were large numbers of underage girls present and said Epstein “may have changed his behaviour patterns not to be obvious to me”.

Asked if he would testify under oath, the duke said: “I’m like everybody else and I will have to take all the legal advice that there was before I was to do that sort of thing. But if push came to shove and the legal advice was to do so, then I would be duty bound to do so.”

‘The wrong thing to do’

The duke rejected the perception of him as “the party prince” in the past, and said “going to Jeffrey’s was not about partying, absolutely not”.

He said he had first met Epstein through his girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell in 1999 but it was a “stretch” to say they were close friends and they saw each other “a maximum of three times a year”.

Prince Andrew acknowledged he had stayed on Epstein’s private island, visited his home in Palm Beach, Florida, and travelled on his private plane.

He said he wanted to learn more about the “international business world and so that was another reason” for going to visit the 66-year-old American financier in New York, as the prince became special representative for international trade and investment.

He invited Epstein to Princess Beatrice’s 18th birthday at Windsor Castle in July 2006 but said “certainly I wasn’t aware” that a warrant had been issued in May for his arrest for sex crimes.

But the duke said he ceased contact with Epstein later that year, until 2010.

Epstein was convicted of soliciting and procuring a minor for prostitution in 2008 and received an 18-month prison sentence after prosecutors forged a deal with him.

Prince Andrew, left, and Jeffrey Epstein in New York's Central ParkPrince Andrew said this meeting with Epstein in 2010 was to end their relationship

In July 2010, Epstein was released and in December, Prince Andrew went to visit him in his New York mansion.

Challenged on his decision to stay at the home of a convicted sex offender, he said: “I went there with the sole purpose of saying to him that because he had been convicted, it was inappropriate for us to be seen together.”

He stayed several days and attended a dinner party, however. “It was a convenient place to stay,” he said, but added “with a benefit of all the hindsight that one can have, it was definitely the wrong thing to do”.

The duke denied an account by another guest that he had been seen receiving a foot massage from a Russian woman.

Asked about a picture of him and Epstein taken in Central Park in 2010, Prince Andrew said “somebody very cleverly took that photograph” but that they had not been able to “find any evidence” that Epstein had set it up.

‘A sore in the family’

The fallout over Epstein’s arrest had been “a constant sore in the family”, the prince said.

Following the allegations made against him in a 2015 deposition, Prince Andrew said the wider Royal Family “couldn’t be more supportive” and his immediate family “were at a loss”.

Prince Andrew: Epstein ‘a constant sore in the family’

The duke denied the episode had been damaging to the Queen, but said “it has to me, and it’s been a constant drip in the background that people want to know”.

He said he would like to be able to give “closure” on the issue but “I’m just as much in the dark as many people”.

He said that choosing to talk about the allegations was “almost a mental health issue to some extent for me”, adding that “it’s been nagging at my mind for a great many years”.

Meeting Epstein after his conviction was “the wrong decision and the wrong judgement” but the allegations from Ms Giuffre were “surprising, shocking and a distraction”, he said.

But he refused to entirely disavow his relationship with Epstein, saying it had “some seriously beneficial outcomes” that were unrelated to the accusations against them both.

“Do I regret the fact that he has quite obviously conducted himself in a manner unbecoming? Yes,” he said.

After interviewer Emily Maitlis challenged him, describing Epstein as a sex offender, the duke said: “Yeah, I’m sorry, I’m being polite.”

Prince Andrew & the Epstein Scandal: The Newsnight Interview was shown on BBC Two on 16 November 2019 and can be seen on BBC iPlayer in the UK and the full interview can also be seen on YouTube.

Executors of Epstein’s estate propose victim compensation fund

But an alleged victim’s lawyer is sceptical of the fund, saying the plan did not have the consent of Epstein’s accusers.

US financier Jeffrey Epstein hanged himself in his Manhattan jail cell on August 10 after being arrested on federal sex trafficking charges, to which he pleaded not guilty [File: New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services/Reuters]
US financier Jeffrey Epstein hanged himself in his Manhattan jail cell on August 10 after being arrested on federal sex trafficking charges, to which he pleaded not guilty [File: New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services/Reuters]

https://youtu.be/Ocud-x8Ocuo

The executors of the estate of Jeffrey Epstein have said they asked a United States judge to approve the creation of a proposed fund to compensate women the financier was accused of having sexually abused.

The executors, Darren Indyke and Richard Kahn, said in a statement on Thursday that the fund would create a “voluntary, confidential, non-adversarial alternative to litigation”.

More:

Epstein, 66, died by hanging himself in his Manhattan jail cell on August 10, two days after signing a will and putting his estimated $577m estate into a trust. He had been arrested in July on federal sex trafficking charges, to which he pleaded not guilty.

His estate is facing about a dozen lawsuits from women who say Epstein sexually abused them, many while they were underage.

The proposed compensation fund, which must be approved by a US Virgin Islands court, would be overseen by administrators including Jordana Feldman and Kenneth Feinberg, who have worked on compensation funds for victims affected by the September 11, 2001, attacks in New York.

Women who choose not to take part in the programme would still be allowed to pursue their claims against the estate in court, according to Thursday’s statement. It was not immediately clear how much money would be available for the victim compensation fund.

Lawyer Roberta Kaplan, who represents one of the women suing the estate, expressed scepticism of the plan.

“Given that this latest fund was launched without our input or consent, we will keep an open mind because we are supportive of attempts to fairly compensate these survivors, but both the estate and the new administrators have a lot to prove,” she said in a press release.

“If the estate is placing all estate assets into the claims programme for victims, then it is a step in the right direction,” Brad Edwards, who represents multiple alleged victims, said in an email. “In the meantime, we intend to get the filed cases to trial quickly. Either way, justice for our clients, without delay, is our goal.”

Following his July 6 arrest, Epstein pleaded not guilty to sex trafficking charges involving dozens of underage girls at his mansions on Manhattan’s Upper East Side and in Palm Beach, Florida, over several years.

He had escaped federal prosecution by pleading guilty in 2008 to Florida state prostitution charges, an agreement now widely considered too lenient.

The financier once counted US President Donald Trump and former President Bill Clinton as friends. They have not been accused of wrongdoing.

[A lot of influential people breathed a sigh of relief when Epstein died: Prince Andrew, Alan Dershowitz, Bill Clinton, Mr. Trump. – S.]