Virginia Roberts Giuffre

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Virginia Giuffre
Born
Virginia Louise Roberts

(1983-08-09) August 9, 1983 (age 36)
NationalityAmerican
Citizenship
  • Australia
  • United States
OrganizationVictims Refuse Silence
Known forAdvocate of justice for sex trafficking survivors
Spouse(s)
Robert Giuffre
(
m. 2002)
Children3
WebsiteVictimsRefuseSilence.org/

Virginia Louise Giuffre (née Roberts; August 9, 1983) is an American advocate of justice for sex trafficking victims. She is one of the most prominent and outspoken survivors of the sex trafficking ring that was operated by convicted sex offender and financier Jeffrey Epstein. She founded the nonprofit organization Victims Refuse Silence[1] in 2015[2] and has been widely featured in interviews with American and British media describing her experiences of being trafficked by Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell, to individuals including Prince Andrew, Alan Dershowitz, and Jean-Luc Brunel.[3][4]

Giuffre has pursued criminal and civil actions against Epstein and Maxwell and has appealed directly to the public for justice and awareness.[5] She sued Maxwell for defamation in 2015, and the case was settled in Giuffre's favor for an undisclosed sum in 2017.[6] On July 2, 2019, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ordered the unsealing of documents from the earlier civil suit by Giuffre against Maxwell.[7] The first batch of documents from Giuffre's suit were released to the public on August 9, 2019,[8] further implicating Epstein, Maxwell, and a number of his associates. The following day, on August 10, 2019, Epstein was found dead in his Manhattan prison cell.[9]

Giuffre described her alleged experiences of being sex trafficked by Epstein to Prince Andrew in an October 2019 interview for the BBC's Panorama which aired on December 2, 2019.[10] She urged "I implore the people in the UK to stand up beside me, to help me fight this fight, to not accept this as being OK."[11] Combined with Prince Andrew's own poorly received Newsnight interview with the BBC that aired in November 2019, Giuffre's direct appeal helped to shift public opinion in favor of plaintiffs.[10][12]

Early life[edit]

Virginia Giuffre was born Virginia Louise Roberts[13] in Sacramento, California, on August 9, 1983, to parents Sky and Lynn Roberts.[14][15] The family relocated to Loxahatchee in Palm Beach County, Florida, when she was four years old.[15] Giuffre has a younger brother.[16] It was reported that she had come from a "troubled home"[16] and, from the age of seven, was molested by a close family friend.[1] Giuffre told the Miami Herald that she went from being in "an abusive situation, to being a runaway, to living in foster homes."[17] She lived on the streets at age 13 before getting abused by a 65-year-old sex trafficker, Ron Eppinger, in Miami.[18] Giuffre lived with Eppinger for approximately 6 months.[13] Eppinger reportedly ran a front business for international sex trafficking known as the modeling agency "Perfect 10".[19] He was raided by the FBI and later pleaded guilty to charges of alien smuggling for prostitution, interstate travel for prostitution, and money laundering.[19]

At the age of 14 she reunited with her father and returned to live with him. Her father worked as a maintenance manager at the Mar-a-Lago property owned by Donald Trump, and also helped Giuffre obtain a job there.[10]

Association with Epstein (2000–2002)[edit]

In the summer of 2000,[20][21] Giuffre first met Ghislaine Maxwell when working as a spa attendant at Donald Trump's private Mar-a-Lago club while reading a book about massage therapy.[16] Maxwell, a British socialite and daughter of the late media tycoon Robert Maxwell, approached Giuffre, noted the book that she was reading, inquired about her interest in massage, and offered her a potential job working for Epstein as a traveling masseuse with the assurance that no experience was necessary.[16] Giuffre has stated that after Maxwell introduced her to Jeffrey Epstein, the two quickly began grooming her to provide sexual services under the guise that she was to be trained as a professional massage therapist.[22]

Between 2000 and 2002, Giuffre was closely associated with Epstein and Maxwell, traveling between Epstein's residences in Palm Beach and Manhattan (at the Herbert N. Straus House), with additional trips to Epstein's Zorro ranch in New Mexico and private island Little Saint James.[23] In the Miami Herald's award-winning[24] investigative journalism series "Perversion of Justice", Giuffre describes her experiences of being trafficked by Epstein to provide massages and sexual services for him and a number of his business associates over a two-and-a-half-year period.[25]

Of the instance in March[10] 2001 that Giuffre was allegedly trafficked to Prince Andrew, she stated in an interview that it was a "wicked" and "really scary time" in her life and that she "couldn't comprehend how in the highest level of the government powerful people were allowing this to happen. Not just allowing but participating in it."[26] In court documents from a civil suit that were released from seal in 2019, Giuffre named several others that she claims Epstein and Maxwell instructed her to have sex with, including hedge fund manager Glenn Dubin, attorney Alan Dershowitz, politician Bill Richardson, the late MIT scientist Marvin Minsky, lawyer George J. Mitchell, and MC2 modeling agent Jean-Luc Brunel.[27][28]

In September 2002, at the age of 19, Giuffre flew to Thailand and attended the International Training Massage School[29][30] in Chiang Mai.[31] Maxwell provided her with tickets to travel to Thailand, and instructed to meet with a specific Thai girl to bring her back to the United States for Epstein.[32]

While at the massage school in Thailand in 2002, she met Robert Giuffre, an Australian martial arts trainer, and the two married quickly thereafter.[15] She contacted Epstein and informed him that she would not be returning as planned. She and her husband started a life and family in Australia, and Giuffre broke off contact with Epstein and Maxwell.[22] For five years, Giuffre and her husband lived a quiet life in Australia with their young children.

First contact by authorities[edit]

In March 2005, while Giuffre was still establishing her family in Australia, the Palm Beach Police Department began investigating Epstein after a 14-year-old girl and her parents reported his behavior.[33] The girl described being recruited by a female classmate from her high school to give Epstein a massage at his mansion in exchange for money wherein he subsequently molested her.[17][33] By October 2005, the police had a growing list of girls with similar claims of sexual abuse, statements from Epstein's butlers corroborating their claims, and a search warrant for his Palm Beach property.[33]

Police detectives noted that the accusers all described a similar pattern[34] where Epstein would ask them to massage him and then sexually assault them during the massage. When police searched through Epstein's trash, they found notes with the telephone numbers of the girls on them.[33] One of the girls was called by Epstein's assistant while being questioned by police.[33]

Giuffre relayed to the Miami Herald that she received a series of phone calls in rapid succession over three days in 2007. The first call was from Maxwell, then one day later a call from Epstein, both of whom asked if she had spoken to authorities, followed by a third call from an FBI agent who stated that Giuffre had been identified as a victim during the first criminal case against Epstein.[35] She resisted speaking at length to the FBI until she was approached again about the matter in person, this time by the Australian Federal Police, six months after being contacted by phone.[35][36]

Legal proceedings[edit]

First criminal case[edit]

In 2006, a year before Giuffre was first contacted by authorities, the Palm Beach Police Department had a growing body of evidence against Epstein, and signed a probable cause affidavit charging him with multiple counts of unlawful sex acts with a minor.[33] Epstein hired a team of powerful lawyers, including Alan Dershowitz, Jack Goldberger, Kenneth Starr, and Jay Lefkowitz, to serve in his defense.[34] As the case progressed, Police Chief Michael Reiter became alarmed at the handling of the case by state prosecutors and then state attorney, Barry Krischer.[34] On May 1, 2006, Reiter asked Krischer to remove himself from the case; when Krischer declined, Police Chief Reiter turned his evidence over to the FBI for federal prosecution.[34][37] While Reiter was initially hopeful that the FBI would thoroughly investigate and move the matter to a conclusion, in 2007, then South Florida U.S. Attorney Alexander Acosta decided not to prosecute Epstein in federal court and referred the matter back to the local jurisdiction.[34]

Lead police detective Joseph Recarey asserted that the state prosecutors were at first eager to pursue criminal action against Epstein, but that "everything took a turn" when lawyer Alan Dershowitz got involved.[37] Krisher then decided to take the unusual action of turning Epstein's case over to a grand jury, and then presented testimony from only one girl. Epstein's legal team aggressively sought concessions and prolonged the process when negotiating a plea deal with Alex Acosta.[38] Acosta, who described the tactics of Epstein's lawyers as a "year-long assault on the prosecution and prosecutors", eventually agreed to sign a controversial non-prosecution agreement in 2008, which was done without informing the victims,[38] later determined to be in violation of the Crime Victims' Rights Act.[39]

Reiter expressed that the state and federal prosecutors' handling of the Epstein case amounted to "the worst failure of the criminal justice system" in modern times.[34]

Crime Victims' Rights Act lawsuit (2008–2019)[edit]

In 2008, a lawsuit (Jane Doe v. United States of America) was filed by Bradley Edwards and Paul G. Cassell that accused the U.S. Justice Department of violating the Crime Victims' Rights Act during the first criminal case against Epstein by failing to allow several of his victims to challenge his plea deal.[40] Epstein sued Bradley Edwards for civil racketeering but later dropped his suit; Edwards countersued for malicious prosecution, with the result that Epstein issued a public apology to the lawyer and settled the case for an undisclosed sum in December 2018.[41][42] Edwards, who represents several Epstein accusers in addition to Giuffre, reportedly settled in aid of his clients, whose greatest wish was to pursue their larger objective of having their allegations heard in a federal court in order to overturn the non-prosecution agreement.[38] Edwards stated that "They're willing to talk. They want to share their stories. This was part of their healing."[38]

In a February 2019 ruling, District Judge Kenneth Marra determined that prosecutors had violated victims' rights as defined by the Crime Victims' Rights Act.[39]

Victims' civil suit[edit]

In May 2009, Giuffre filed a lawsuit as Jane Doe 102 against Epstein and accused Maxwell of recruiting her to a life of being sexually trafficked while she was a minor.[20][43] By late 2009, dozens of Epstein's victims had filed civil lawsuits against him. All suits were settled for undisclosed amounts.[22] The victims also filed for the records of the plea deal to be unsealed and made available to the public.[citation needed]

Decision to speak out publicly[edit]

Blue Morpho
Victims Refuse Silence uses a blue butterfly as a symbol of transformation and empowerment for survivors of sexual abuse

Giuffre credited the birth of her daughter on January 7, 2010 as the date she decided to come forward publicly and begin speaking out about her experiences of sexual abuse and trafficking, despite the risks.[44][45] Vanity Fair stated that Giuffre's story was first publicized in March 2011 by the Mail on Sunday; the coverage included the photo showing Prince Andrew with his arm around her at Maxwell's house in Belgravia, London.[46] FBI agents again made contact with Giuffre, this time at the US consulate in Sydney in 2011, soon after she went public with allegations against Epstein and Prince Andrew.[30]

In December 2014, Giuffre set up the framework for her organization Victims Refuse Silence.[47][13] It was registered as a 501c3 non-profit organization in 2015.[2] The objective of Victims Refuse Silence is to "help survivors surmount the shame, silence, and intimidation typically experienced by victims of sexual abuse, and to help others to escape becoming victims of sex trafficking."[48] For her organization Victims Refuse Silence (VRS), Giuffre has utilized imagery of a blue Morpho butterfly to symbolize the transformation and empowerment that occurs when a victim becomes a survivor. Blue is the international color of human trafficking awareness.[49] The United States has designated January as Human Trafficking Awareness Month with January 11 listed as National Wear Blue Day.[50]

Prince Andrew allegations[edit]

In a December 2014 Florida court filing, intended for inclusion in the 2008 Crime Victims' Rights Act lawsuit, Giuffre described being trafficked to Prince Andrew, Duke of York, at least three times when she was 17 in 2001.[51][52] She claims that Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell took her to Tramp nightclub in London, where she met and danced with Prince Andrew.[51] Later that night, while en route to Maxwell's Belgravia residence, Maxwell instructed Giuffre to "do for (Prince Andrew) what you do for Epstein."[53]

A photo that shows Giuffre, Prince Andrew and Maxwell in Ghislaine's apartment has been widely circulated since 2011. Prince Andrew's role as trade envoy was terminated in July 2011, and he reportedly cut all ties with Epstein.[54][55]

In court documents, Giuffre claimed that one sexual encounter with Prince Andrew was an orgy on the private island Little Saint James(Virgin Islands) that involved her, several underage girls from Eastern Europe, the Prince, and Jeffrey Epstein himself.[22]

In 2015, Buckingham Palace stated that "any suggestion of impropriety with underage minors is categorically untrue", later repeating the denials.[56] Requests from Giuffre's lawyers for a statement under oath from the Duke about the allegations were returned unanswered.[57]

Alan Dershowitz allegations and related lawsuits[edit]

Giuffre claims that Epstein sex trafficked her to lawyer and Harvard law professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz at least six times, the earliest time when she was aged 16.[22] These claims have been repeatedly denied by Dershowitz, who has pointed to email correspondence between Giuffre and Mail on Sunday reporter Sharon Churcher in late 2011, in which Giuffre asked Churcher to help her remember the names of her abusers following earlier discussions, and Churcher replied, "Don't forget Alan Dershowitz. JE's buddy and lawyer..good name for your pitch as he repped Claus von Bulow and a movie was made about that case...title was Reversal of Fortune. We all suspect Alan is a pedo and tho no proof of that, you probably met him when he was hanging put w JE."[58] Dershowitz, who has a history of associating with Epstein as a friend, represented him in his 2008 criminal conviction and helped to negotiate the controversial non-prosecution agreement that was in defiance of victims' rights.[59]

The claims first appeared in a December 30, 2014, Florida court filing by lawyers Bradley J. Edwards and Paul G. Cassell which alleged that Alan Dershowitz was one of several prominent figures, including Prince Andrew, to have participated in sexual activities with a minor later identified as Giuffre.[52] The affidavit from Giuffre was meant for inclusion as part of the 2008 lawsuit (Jane Doe v. USA) accusing the Justice Department of violating the Crime Victims Rights Act during Epstein's first criminal case.[40] Dershowitz vehemently denied the allegations in Giuffre's statement and sought disbarment of Edwards and Cassell, the lawyers filing the suit.[59][60][61] Edwards and Cassell sued Dershowitz for defamation in 2015; he countersued.[20] The two parties settled in 2016 for an undisclosed financial sum.[62]

Following denials by Dershowitz, Giuffre stated, "I'm not going to be bullied back into silence."[63]

In 2014, Giuffre was represented by Stanley Pottinger, whose firm specializes in sex abuse cases involving women and children.[21] Anticipating the challenges that awaited Giuffre in accusing extremely wealthy and powerful individuals, Pottinger looked for another lawyer that could match this.[21] At the request of Pottinger, David Boies and his firm Boies Schiller Flexner began representing Giuffre pro bono in 2014.[21] Boies represents several of Epstein's accusers. In addition to Boies, attorneys for Giuffre include Brad Edwards and Paul Cassell.[64]

In April 2019, Giuffre sued Dershowitz for defamation in New York, with Boies as her lawyer.[65] That June, Dershowitz filed a motion to dismiss Giuffre's suit (which was later denied)[66] and a motion to disqualify Boies' firm from representing her (which was later approved).[67][68] Giuffre stated in September 2019 that she continued to stand by her claims of misconduct by Dershowitz.[68] Dershowitz accused Boies of pressuring Giuffre to provide false testimony, in response to which Boies sued Dershowitz in November 2019 for defamation.[66]

In October 2019, Charles Cooper took over representation of Giuffre in the defamation suit against Dershowitz after a judge ruled that Boies could not continue as Giuffre's lawyer because Dershowitz's claim that she conspired with her attorneys to make false claims had turned Boies into a potential witness.[69]

In April 2019, Maria Farmer filed an affidavit in support of Giuffre's defamation suit against Dershowitz which stated that while Farmer worked signing in guests at Epstein's front desk in 1995–1996, she had regularly encountered Dershowitz at the New York mansion at the same time underage girls were present.[70]

Civil cases[edit]

Virginia Roberts affidavit (2014)[edit]

Giuffre filed court papers in Florida in January 2015, stating that Epstein trafficked her to Prince Andrew and Alan Dershowitz.[33] In a sworn affidavit, she claims Maxwell worked as Epstein's madam.[33] In April 2015, a federal judge ruled that Giuffre could not join the federal Crime Victims' Rights Act lawsuit, and her affidavit was stricken from the case.[33]

Virginia Giuffre v. Ghislaine Maxwell (2015)[edit]

As a result of Giuffre's allegations and Maxwell's comments about them, Giuffre sued Maxwell for defamation in federal court in New York in September 2015.[33] After much legal confrontation, the case was settled under seal in June 2017 with Maxwell reportedly paying Giuffre "millions".[33][71]

Virginia Giuffre v. Alan Dershowitz (2019)[edit]

In April 2019, Giuffre filed a federal civil defamation lawsuit against Alan Dershowitz in New York.[21][70]

Giuffre was first represented by David Boies but Alan Dershowitz successfully had him removed from the case as he claimed that members of the law firm could be called to witness in the trial. She was subsequently represented by lawyer Charles Cooper. Boies filed a separate defamation lawsuit against Dershowitz for implying that Boies had pressured Giuffre into making false claims.[72]

Second criminal case[edit]

Jeffrey Epstein was arrested on July 6, 2019 at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey[73] and charged with sex trafficking and sex trafficking conspiracy by prosecutors with the Public Corruption Unit of the Southern District of New York [74] In the indictment, Epstein was accused of soliciting massages from underage girls where the activities became increasingly sexual and then of enlisting the girls to recruit other underage victims for pay.[74] U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York appealed for other victims of Epstein to come forward.[74] The federal indictment also listed the key role of Epstein's paid "employees and associates" responsible for scheduling victims.[74]

One month after his arrest, Epstein was found dead on August 10, 2019, after reportedly hanging himself in his Manhattan prison cell.[75][9]

On August 29, 2019, in the wake of Epstein's death 19 days prior, the case against Epstein was closed after District Judge Richard Berman dismissed all sex trafficking charges.[76][77] Judge Berman expressed support for Epstein's accusers, stating that he invited them to speak publicly at a hearing on August 27, 2019, out of "respect" for "the difficult decisions victims made to come forward".[76] Giuffre was among the 16 women who spoke publicly at the hearing, which included Anouska De Georgiou, Sarah Ransome, Jennifer Araoz, Chauntae Davies, Courtney Wild, Theresa J. Helm, and Marijke Chartouni.[78] At the hearing, Giuffre stated "The reckoning must not end. It must continue. He did not act alone. We the victims know that." Prosecutors signaled that they would continue an investigation for potential co-conspirators.[77]

Media coverage and appearances[edit]

In 2015, ABC News flew Giuffre and her family from Colorado to New York City for an interview with Amy Robach and Jim Hill.[43] Her family was put up at the Ritz-Carlton and she was interviewed about Epstein for over an hour by the network. However, the network later abandoned their plans to broadcast the interview. It emerged that former top Epstein lawyer Alan Dershowitz had contacted the network. Dershowitz confirmed to NPR that he intervened by calling and speaking with producers and a lawyer for NBC after learning that Giuffre had been interviewed, stating "I did not want to see [Giuffre's] credibility enhanced by ABC."[43]

Giuffre appeared on a special edition of Dateline NBC with Savannah Guthrie discussing the Epstein scandal along with victims Anouska De Georgiou, Rachel Benavidez, Jennifer Araoz, Marijke Chartouni and Chauntae Davies.[79] The special, titled "Reckoning", aired on September 20, 2019.[79]

Giuffre was interviewed for the 60 Minutes Australia investigation that aired on November 10, 2019.[80][81] In the program she describes her experiences of being trafficked by Epstein and Maxwell to have sex with Prince Andrew three times in 2001: the first time being in London at Maxwell's Belgravia residence, the second at Epstein's New York mansion, and the final occurrence (involving multiple girls and the Prince) on Little Saint James.[81]

Giuffre also gave an interview in October 2019 to the BBC, describing her experience of being sex-trafficked by Epstein to Prince Andrew, for a Panorama special, "The Prince and the Epstein Scandal", which aired on December 2, 2019.[10][5] In the program, Giuffre directly appealed to the public by stating "I implore the people in the UK to stand up beside me, to help me fight this fight, to not accept this as being ok."[10]

BBC reporter Emily Maitlis conducted a Newsnight interview with Prince Andrew, discussing Giuffre's allegations and his friendship with Epstein, which aired on November 16, 2019. The reaction to the Prince's conduct during the interview was one of overwhelming disapproval; this, combined with Giuffre's public appeal, helped lead to a widespread shift in opinion by the British people.[10][12] The prince resigned from his royal duties on November 20, 2019, as a number of organizations and charities that he was connected to severed ties.[82][83] Despite the Prince's promises to assist authorities, in January 2020, U.S. attorney Geoffrey Berman stated that Prince Andrew had provided "zero cooperation" after the FBI and the Southern District of New York had requested to interview him as part of the Epstein inquiry.[84]

Giuffre appeared, along with Maria Farmer, in a four-part Netflix series, released in May 2020, titled Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich, directed by Lisa Bryant and based on the earlier book of the same name by James Patterson.[85]

In July 2020, following Maxwell's federal indictment, Giuffre was interviewed by Gayle King for CBS This Morning.[86]

Personal life[edit]

Following her marriage to Robert in 2002, Giuffre lived in the Glenning Valley suburb of New South Wales' Central Coast in Australia for 11 years.[87] The family relocated to the United States in November 2013 and stayed for several years, initially spending time in Florida,[87] and later in Colorado in 2015.[43] In 2019, it was reported that Giuffre lived in Cairns, Australia, with her husband Robert and their three children: two sons and one daughter.[88]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

  1. Unsealed Court Documents from Giuffre vs. Maxwell
  2. Unsealed Court Document containing a draft of Virginia Roberts memoir
  3. Unsealed Court Documents from Giuffre vs. Dershowitz