By People Staff
January 19, 2015 12:00 PM

A Prince, a Teen and a Sex Scandal

Buckingham Palace denies explosive that claims Prince Andrew had sex with an American teenager he met more than a decade ago

Skiing the world-class slopes of Verbier, Switzerland, by day and winding down in a luxurious, $35,000-a-week chalet at night, Britain’s Prince Andrew was enjoying a modern-family vacation with friendly ex Sarah Ferguson, their younger daughter, Eugenie, and a posse of royal pals. The Alpine serenity came to an abrupt end Jan. 2 when Andrew, 54, was named in a Florida civil court case alleging that the Duke of York had sex with a 17-year-old minor loaned out to him by his onetime friend, disgraced billionaire Jeffrey Epstein. Buckingham Palace forcefully denied the claims by “Jane Doe #3,” who has been named in multiple news outlets as American Virginia Roberts. The Palace has repeatedly and “emphatically” denied the allegations, saying they are “false and without any foundation.” PEOPLE was unable to reach Roberts for comment, but her father, Sky Roberts, told PEOPLE his daughter, 31, a married mother of three, “has no reason to lie. I support my daughter all the way.”

The stunning claims stem from a long-running legal saga centering on investment banker Epstein, 61, who in 2008 was convicted of procuring and soliciting an underage girl for prostitution following a plea bargain deal. After Epstein pleaded guilty, he spent 13 months in jail. As part of a civil case filed in response to that plea deal, the woman said she was Epstein’s “sex slave” for about three years and that he “forced her” to have sex with Andrew on three separate occasions. In a statement released Jan. 4 via her lawyer, Roberts said, “I am looking forward to vindicating my rights as an innocent victim and pursuing all available resources.” Amidst the growing scandal, a grim-faced Andrew abruptly left Switzerland on Jan. 4 and returned to his home in Windsor, where he met with advisers to plan his next steps in what is expected to be a long drawn-out civil case. “He’s not going to go to the ground,” a senior royal aide tells PEOPLE. “He will carry on what he has been doing in terms of his public engagements.”

Andrew, the original Playboy Prince long before Harry came along, has survived other scandals, but this is far more serious. “He is naive and has a poor sense of judgment,” says Majesty magazine’s Ingrid Seward of Andrew’s friendship with Epstein. “But then he has lived in an ivory tower all his life. None of the older members of the royal family have very much experience of ordinary people apart from those who serve them.” It’s especially frustrating to the Palace that this news comes just as Princess Kate and Prince William prepare for baby No. 2, she adds. “Things were looking so bright, and then something like this comes along. It’s detrimental to the monarchy.”

Tributes

Stuart Scott, 49

On Jan. 4 the longtime ESPN anchor lost his seven-year battle with a rare form of cancer. “When you die, it does not mean that you lose to cancer,” he said in his acceptance speech for the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance at the 2014 ESPY Awards in July. “You beat cancer by how you live.”

Luise Rainer, 104

The German-born actress—and first person ever to win back-to-back Oscars (for 1936’s The Great Ziegfeld and 1937’s The Good Earth)—died of pneumonia on Dec. 30.

James Cecil “Little Jimmy” Dickens, 94

The 4’11” Grand Ole Opry star died on Jan. 2 of cardiac arrest. In a tribute, Brad Paisley said he “check-marked all the boxes of a … wonderful life.”

Donna Douglas, 81

The Beverly Hillbillies star, who played Elly May in the 1960s sitcom, died on Jan. 1 of pancreatic cancer. Her other acting credits included a role in the 1959 film Career with Dean Martin.

Edward Herrmann, 71

The Gilmore Girls actor died on Dec. 31 after battling brain cancer. His TV daughter Lauren Graham called him “the kindest, classiest, most talented man.”

Mario Cuomo, 82

The former New York state governor, who retired in 1994 after three terms, died of natural causes on Jan. 1—the same day his son Andrew was sworn in for his second New York gubernatorial term. Andrew, 57, said in his inaugural address, “His experience is what has brought the state to this point.”

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