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Now that Ghislaine Maxell has been arrested and charged, Britain's Prince Andrew is under increasing pressure to talk to the FBI about his involvement with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
But even as lawyers for Epstein’s victims say Maxwell is likely to turn on her former friends, the royal claims to be “bewildered” by calls from the U.S. Department of Justice for him to make a statement.
Disgraced British socialite Maxwell was arrested on Thursday in New Hampshire and charged with assisting Epstein's abuse of minors by helping to recruit and groom victims known to be underage.
Now, the U.S. authorities’ focus is once again turning to Andrew, a friend of Epstein who claims to have seen nothing untoward when visiting Epstein’s home in 2010 — after Epstein was convicted of procuring a minor for prostitution.
But the royal was drawn into the scandal last year when Virginia Roberts-Giuffre, who says she was Epstein’s “sex slave,” said she was forced to have sex with the Duke of York when she was just 17.
Andrew has denied any knowledge of the incident, even though he and Roberts-Giuffre were photographed together at Maxwell’s London home.
On Thursday, during a press briefing on Maxwell’s arrest, acting US attorney for the southern district of New York Audrey Strauss once again called for Andrew to fulfill a promise he made last November. During a car crash BBC interview, he promised to speak to U.S. authorities.
“I am not going to comment on anyone's status in this investigation but I will say that we would welcome Prince Andrew coming in to talk with us, we would like to have the benefit of his statement,” Strauss said. “I have no further comment beyond what I just said, which is that our doors remain open, as we previously said, and we would welcome him coming in and giving us an opportunity to hear his statement.”
But Andrew, who stepped back from royal duties last year as the scandal exploded, appears to be in the dark about U.S. investigators’ demands.
“The Duke's team is bewildered by the DOJ's comments earlier today as we have twice reached out to them in the last month and have received no reply,” a source close to the prince told the BBC and the Guardian.
This is the latest back and forth between Andrew and the U.S. authorities.
Last month U.S. prosecutor Geoffrey Berman said Andrew had “sought to falsely portray himself” as eager to cooperate with the inquiry into Epstein, but had “repeatedly declined our request" to schedule an interview.
The pressure on Andrew to give his side of the story is likely to grow as lawyers for Epstein’s victims believe Maxwell will now do anything to save herself — and that includes giving up her former friends.
“I’m sure Ms. Maxwell will make every effort to turn on others to save herself. That includes Prince Andrew,” Lisa Bloom, who represents six Epstein victims, told the New York Post.
“Prince Andrew should be very concerned. I’m sure he will not be setting foot in the U.S” Bloom said, stressing that Maxwell’s arrest should leave all of Epstein’s inner circle “shaking in their boots.”
Gloria Allred, the lawyer representing 16 of Epstein’s victims, said Andrew should step up, as his lack of cooperation is “traumatizing” the victims.
"The question is, Prince Andrew, when is he going to tell what he knows,” Allred told Good Morning Britain on Friday. “He needs to do that. He needs to do it without delay. It is so traumatizing and difficult for the victims not to know the truth. And this kind of torture test that Prince Andrew is subjecting the victims to, like will he or won’t he give a statement, if he will, when?”
Cover: Prince Andrew The Duke of York visits the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in London to open the new Stanmore Building, 3/21/19. (zz/KGC-375/STAR MAX/IPx)
This article originally appeared on VICE US.