Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, issued a lengthy statement on Saturday in which he admitted it was a “mistake and an error” to continue his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein after the convicted pedophile was released from a Florida jail in 2009.
“I can only reiterate my regret that I was mistaken to think that what I thought I knew of him was evidently not the real person, given what we now know,” wrote the embattled brother of Prince Charles.
The statement is clearly meant to distance the prince from Epstein who Andrew visited in 2010. “It is apparent to me since the suicide of Mr. Epstein that there has been an immense amount of media speculation about so much in his life,” Prince Andrew wrote as a way of introduction. “This is particularity the case in relation to my former association or friendship with Mr. Epstein.”
The British royal has been under increasing scrutiny after photos emerged of him peeping out from behind the door of Epstein’s Manhattan mansion in 2010–two years after Epstein pleaded guilty to state prostitution charges including sleeping with an underage girl–as a string of young women filtered in and out.
Earlier this week, reports that the prince received a foot massage from “two young Russian women” in Epstein’s home around that time drew further scorn. The palace denied those claims issuing a statement to the Guardian that, “any suggestion of impropriety with underage minors is categorically untrue.”
The prince did not address these accusations specifically in the lengthy missive, instead insisting that he did not know about Epstein’s bad behavior.
“I met Mr. Epstein in 1999,” Andrew wrote. “During the time I knew him, I saw him infrequently and probably no more than only once or twice a year. I have stayed in a number of his residences.”
The Prince then went on to say, “At no stage during the limited time I spent with him did I see, witness or suspect any behavior of the sort that subsequently led to his arrest and conviction.”
Epstein spent 13 months under what is now increasingly questionable work release conditions during 2008 and 2009 as part of a plea deal that ended a federal sex-abuse investigation involving dozens of teenage girls. The prince, who would have known about that conviction and jail time, saw Epstein after that. “I have said previously that it was a mistake and an error to see him after his release in 2010,” he now states.
Prince Andrew does acknowledge consorting with Epstein after that but says that, in retrospect, he should have known better. “This is a difficult time for everyone involved and I am at a loss to be able to understand or explain Mr. Epstein’s lifestyle,” he wrote. “I deplore the exploitation of any human being and would not condone, participate in, or encourage any such behavior.”