|Raymond Legaspi |||Jan 06, 2015 01:01 AM EST|
(Photo : Reuters) Britain's Prince Andrew leaves the Crossrail headquarters in the Canary Wharf financial district in east London March 7, 2011.
U.S. investigators revealed in court documents that financier Jeffrey Epstein, a longtime friend of the Duke of York, aggressively tampered witnesses who later declined to answer questions if Prince Andrew did sleep with underage women.
Investigators added Epstein paid the lawyers of witnesses who invoked their right to silence when asked if the duke had sex with young girls.
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Florida court files revealed how the FBI and the victims' lawyers faced a blank wall in probing into Epstein's sex offenses and the claims against the duke. The legal counsel of Epstein's sexual abuse victims said it was difficult to gather key testimonies from witnesses because the billionaire financier paid for their legal representation.
One court file contains the names of ten associates and workers of Epstein who, the document said, were being represented by legal counsel paid for by the financier. The list included Nadia Marcinkova who refused to answer questions about Prince Andrew, a right protected by the US constitution's Fifth Amendment.
The Duke of York has denied sexually abusing Virginia Roberts, 17, or had any impropriety with minors. The duke, 54, was seen with his lawyers and aides at his home, Royal Lodge, near Windsor Castle. He and his staff declined to reply to any more questions about the complaints.
The duke's former wife, the Duchess of York, called him the best man. This was the first time she expressed support for him since the allegations were made public last week.
The allegations that Prince Andrew sexually abused Roberts were made in a recent attempt by Epstein's victims to overturn his 2008 plea bargain. They said the agreement with Florida prosecutors was illegal because victims were not consulted. The deal gave Epstein immunity from federal prosecution and allowed him to serve only 13 months in prison.
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