London: The UK's Prince Andrew was used as bait by the late American financier and sex offender Jeffrey Epstein in an attempt to lure a 15-year-old girl to the latter's Caribbean island, a media report said on Sunday.
A representative of Epstein was alleged to have offered the minor girl the opportunity to meet Prince Andrew as a way to get her to visit Little St James, owned by the American financier from 1998 until his death in August, The Daily Mail said in the report. The woman, who refers to herself as 'Jane Doe 15', has claimed that she had been sexually assaulted at Epstein's Zorro ranch compound in New Mexico in 2004 before the attempt to lure her to the Caribbean.
Epstein's team began grooming and manipulating her when she was on a school trip to New York with her drama club, according to Jane Doe 15's complaint which was filed in November. She was taken to Epstein's Manhattan townhouse by one of his assistants where she was later given an iPod and photographed,.
Two weeks after this meeting she describes being subjected to a "vicious, prolonged sexual assault", the victim claimed in her complaint. The girl was then offered by Epstein's representative to visit his Caribbean island which she declined "out of fear" and did not meet Andrew or see the billionaire sex offender again.
These allegations were set out in a letter sent to Prince Andrew by Jane Doe 15's lawyer, Gloria Allred, last week, The Daily Mail report said.
Allred, who is representing five of Epstein's victims, urged the Prince to provide "sworn testimony" to the FBI in order to help women "find peace" and for the "interests of serving justice".
The Duke of York has denied all the allegations brought forth by the victims, adding that he did not witness or suspect any suspicious behaviour during his visits to Epstein's homes.
Criticism of Andrew for his relationship with the well-connected financier increased after the airing of the Prince's interview with the BBC last month.
Besides denying any memory of having met victim Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who claims she had sex with the Prince while a minor on the orders of Epstein and the latter's friend, Ghislaine Maxwell, Andrew evinced no sympathy for the late financier's victims.
Giuffre has produced a photograph of her then-17-year-old self with Prince Andrew, his arm around her waist, and Maxwell standing in the background.