Later this month, Ghislaine Maxwell is due to be sentenced for sex-trafficking. In the first extract of our serialisation from a new book, the Daily Mail told yesterday how she had procured her most famous victim, Virginia Roberts, at the age of 15. Here, investigative author NIGEL CAWTHORNE explains how the troubled teenager was introduced to Prince Andrew.
Sometimes, Virginia Roberts managed to kid herself that she was incredibly fortunate. Who else, at the age of just 16, could boast of flying by private jet to Los Angeles? Or of chatting with Matt Groening, the creator of The Simpsons who was one of the few other passengers? During the flight, she’d offered him an innocent foot massage and he’d kindly given her original drawings of Homer and Bart. But her feeling of elation didn’t last long.
The next day, Virginia was back as sex slave to the paedophile financier Jeffrey Epstein.
She’d been with him for more than a year, providing sexual services for him and his fixer, Ghislaine Maxwell. So she shouldn’t have been shocked at what happened next.
Infamous photograph of Prince Andrew (left) with Virginia Roberts (centre) in front of Ghislaine Maxwell (right), early 2001
It had started straightforwardly enough: breakfast in an LA restaurant with Epstein’s personal assistant Sarah Kellen and a Swedish model Virginia hadn’t met before.
Afterwards, they went to a one-bedroom cabin rented by Epstein on Malibu Beach. There were five women waiting for him in the living room and they immediately started vying with each other for his attention.
He was clearly annoyed by this – or may simply have thought they were too old for him. Ignoring them, he asked his assistant to show Virginia and the Swede into the bedroom and provide them with sex toys. Then he ordered a private ‘lesbian show’, during which he had sex with each of the women in turn. Virginia readily complied.
Epstein was in all senses her master: he paid her well and allowed her to dip into his luxurious lifestyle. Significantly, she was well aware that he had the police in his pocket, often boasting about how he paid them to keep their distance.
If Virginia wondered what had motivated the Swedish model to demean herself, she soon found out. That evening, the three of them went to a production studio to meet the producer of a soap opera.
Business was quickly concluded: the model got the part she wanted, which would eventually lead to a considerable career in TV and film.
Later, as Virginia headed to the airport with Epstein to fly back to New York, he explained that he had met the Swede after Ghislaine Maxwell, his procuress in chief, had lured her back to his home when she was just 13.
Just as Ghislaine had done with Virginia herself, she’d enticed her with the promise of a large payment in return for giving a massage to a rich and kindly man. As usual, Ghislaine had selected her victim well: not only was she just a child but she was feeling vulnerable because her father had recently died.
Now, Virginia Roberts is working to tell her truth – after Prince Andrew paid the Jeffrey Epstein victim an undisclosed sum
Afterwards, Epstein went on to pay for the Swede’s education – while comprehensively ruining what remained of her childhood.
Listening to him talk on the way to the airport, Virginia felt nauseous. Epstein had criminally exploited a mere child – and she knew he’d do so again. Yet here she was, still at the heart of his corrupt and perverted enterprise, with no hope of escaping his grasp.
Not long afterwards, at Epstein’s mansion in New York, Virginia awoke one day covered in blood. The housemaid called an ambulance. When Maxwell and Epstein insisted on accompanying Virginia to hospital, she was pleasantly surprised. Perhaps they really cared about her!
She was quickly disillusioned.
On learning that she had just suffered a miscarriage, she realised they’d come with her only so they could stop her saying anything incriminating. Afterwards, she fell into a debilitating depression.
As far as Epstein was concerned, though, her feelings hardly mattered: she was a slave and he expected her to do whatever he wanted. And what he wanted now was for Virginia to fly to Little St James, his private island in the Virgin Islands, to show an Ivy League university professor around and ‘keep him happy’.
The professor – decades older than her – was a small man with white hair who looked like a mad scientist. After touring the island with her on a quad bike, he asked if she’d give him one of the massages Epstein had told him so much about.
Ghislaine Maxwell poses for a holiday snap with Epstein
Virginia agreed, while dreading the forthcoming ordeal so much that she first excused herself to take some tranquillisers.
By the time they had sex, the pills had kicked in, bringing welcoming numbness.
Having been sexually abused as a child, she’d long ago learned that numbing her mind gave her the best chance of enduring successive horrors. And there were plenty of those. In a legal declaration made in 2015, Virginia admitted: ‘There were times when I was physically abused to the point I remember fearfully thinking that I didn’t know whether I was going to survive.’
Indeed, documents from New York Presbyterian Hospital show she was once admitted after three weeks of vaginal bleeding.
Not that her entire life was a living nightmare.
One day, out of the blue, Epstein gave her $1,000 to spend on designer clothes. She, Epstein and Maxwell were to fly to St Tropez in France for the birthday party of supermodel Naomi Campbell. For a while, Virginia could pretend she was one of the rich elite. In a fancy new designer outfit, she joined pre-party drinks on a yacht. Then, with Maxwell and Epstein, she moved on to the main event, which was packed with celebrities and rich men showing off their young model girlfriends.
Epstein proudly introduced his young ‘masseuse’ to acquaintances – probably men with similar tastes for very young girls.
But the rest of the party was undeniably fun: at one point Virginia danced with a prince, and at another she was photographed with Naomi. (There is no suggestion the supermodel knew anything about Epstein and Maxwell’s sex-trafficking operation.)
On the way back to the hotel, Epstein offered a lift to a rich man from a well-known family of hotel owners. When they arrived, Virginia was told to go off with the short, balding man and give him a ‘massage’.
Her spirits plummeted. In the man’s bedroom, she valiantly tried to give him the impression she was just a professional masseuse rather than a bonbon to be handed out at the end of an evening.
It didn’t work. Nor was he put off when she started asking him about his wife and children. Instead, he unzipped her designer dress.
Ghislaine Maxwell as drawn by a court artist after a video link appearance at Manhattan Federal Court in July 2020
For Virginia’s 17th birthday, Epstein bought her a pair of diamond earrings. From Maxwell, she got nothing but a cursory ‘happy birthday’ – wondering if she was starting to resent Virginia’s place in the financier’s life.
In due course, scores of other young girls came and went, clutching $100 notes after Epstein sexually assaulted them. But Virginia remained his No 1 girl, one of the very few he loaned out to ‘important’ contacts.
Constantly on the move with Epstein, she dined with billionaires, political figures and famous scientists. Among those who accepted her body as a ‘gift’ – according to court papers filed several years later – were ‘numerous prominent American politicians, powerful business executives, foreign presidents, a well-known prime minister and other world leaders’.
For Virginia, it was easy to get accustomed to the lifestyle, though harder to accept the price she had to pay. She knew she was exchanging any chance of a normal life for sexual servitude, dulled by ever more tranquillisers.
One day, she was flown to London and taken to Maxwell’s townhouse in Belgravia. The following morning, Maxwell came into Virginia’s bedroom and told her to get up. They had a big day planned for her. First, they had to buy her a new outfit as she’d be going out dancing later with Prince Andrew, the Queen’s then 41-year-old son. Knowing what was expected of her, Virginia pretended to be excited.
You never know where it might lead, said Maxwell, telling her that Andrew had divorced five years before and was a bachelor. Privately, Virginia was appalled, and gulped down some tranquillisers.
Andrew later insisted he couldn’t recall ever having met her.
According to Virginia, however, the adults chatted for a while about his ex-wife. Maxwell then asked Andrew how old he thought Virginia (whom Maxwell called ‘Jenna’) was. Virginia claims he guessed correctly – 17.
During the evening, she couldn’t resist sending a text message to fellow sex slave Carolyn Andriano, who’d been recruited at 13. ‘You’ll never guess who I’m with,’ she teased. Carolyn recalled later: ‘She said, ‘I’m in London with Jeffrey and Maxwell and Prince Andrew.’ She said she was going to see if she could get a picture.’
The quartet went out to dinner, followed by Andrew’s driver and two royal protection officers.
Virginia had been told to flatter him but she was so nervous that she said very little. Was she telling the truth? Eighteen years later, in his Newsnight interview, Andrew said he was in Pizza Express in Woking, Surrey, with his daughter Beatrice at 4pm or 5pm that day, and could not possibly have had dinner in London. He insisted he had no recollection of ever meeting Virginia.
In her version of the evening, Virginia says they all went to Tramp nightclub in Mayfair, where Andrew danced with her – caressing her, sweating profusely and kissing her neck.
‘He was the most incredibly hideous dancer I had ever seen and I couldn’t help but laugh on the dance floor and shoot glances of embarrassment to Jeffrey and Ghislaine, who were having a good time laughing at my expense,’ Virginia said.
Ghislaine is pictured in a candid photo massaging Jeffrey Epstein’s foot. She will be sentenced in New York next week
Back at Maxwell’s house, Epstein took a quick photo of Andrew with his arm around Virginia’s bare midriff. (Andrew doesn’t remember the picture being taken.)
Then she was left to what she scathingly calls her ‘royal duties’.
‘He was groping me,’ she said. ‘He touched my breasts. He touched my ass. He was not my type, but I’d been trained not only to not show my emotions but to do what’s wanted. He started licking my toes, between my toes, the arches of my feet.’ What ensued, she said, was ‘the longest ten minutes of my life’.
The following morning, Maxwell wanted all the details and she and Epstein laughed about the Prince’s fixation with feet. ‘You did well,’ she told Virginia. ‘He had fun.’
Epstein gave her $15,000 for services rendered, the most he’d ever paid her. Job done, the trio flew back to the US.
According to Virginia, she had two more encounters with Prince Andrew. The second was in Epstein’s office in New York, where she found Andrew sitting with his caricature from the satirical TV puppet show Spitting Image on his hand.
Maxwell paraded Virginia around the room like a show pony, before plonking her on Andrew’s lap. At that point, he moved his hand, still wedged in the puppet, on to her breast. Everybody laughed.
Upstairs in the massage room, she steeled herself to have sex with him again. ‘He couldn’t have cared less about me as a young woman,’ she said. ‘He was being treated to sex for which someone else was paying. From the snickering noises he was making, he was really enjoying the whole thing but I felt like a total prostitute.’
Ms Roberts claims she was placed by Ghislaine Maxwell on the lap of Prince Andrew (pictured at Sandringham, 2020)
Although not the first time Virginia had been loaned out for sex, these latest encounters took her over the edge. Feeling ‘abhorrent and ashamed’ at what she’d become, she took consolation in pills and cocaine. Dark circles appeared under her eyes, and she lost so much weight she looked almost skeletal.
Epstein abruptly lost interest and stopped paying her rent. Without money, she came off drugs and concentrated on becoming an average teenager again and working as a waitress. She felt happier than she’d been for a long time.
It was just after she lost her job – through no fault of her own – that Epstein came steaming back into her life. Weakly, she agreed to work for him again.
Although Epstein was now in his late 40s, there was no diminution in his sexual appetite. If anything, it had grown: he was now staging orgies with girls as young as 12.
They were provided, Virginia said, by Jean-Luc Brunel, who ran the MC2 model agency. After recruiting young girls from the former Soviet republics and Latin America, he’d bring them to the US on forged visas and force them into prostitution and pornography.
Now back on the staff, Virginia had to participate in the orgies to keep Epstein happy. It was a new low. In addition, she was back to her old duties of having lesbian sex with Maxwell for Epstein’s gratification. Soon she was back on the tranquillisers.
‘Jeffrey and Ghislaine’s way of keeping us under his thumb, under his rule, under their control, were invisible chains,’ Virginia said. ‘And it was that constant – ‘We own the police. You can’t run. You can’t tell anybody. We’ll never be held accountable for this.’ ‘
Even in his late-40s, Jeffrey Epstein is said to have organised orgies where girls as young as 12 were sexually abused
They also resorted to threats: ‘One of the scariest was when they told me they knew where my little brother went to school, and if I didn’t do what they said, I’d know the outcome.’
For Virginia, there was nothing much to celebrate about turning 18. She spent her birthday on Little St James, and was told the following day that Brunel [who died in prison in February aged 76 while being investigated on suspicion of the rape of minors] was about to arrive on the island with eight models.
She claimed: ‘A group of Russian girls who didn’t speak a word of English turned up… That night, there was a dinner and Andrew was there. He said ‘Hi’ to me.’
In Epstein’s cabana, the girls staged an orgy – stripping Virginia bare and sexually assaulting her. Looking on, she said, were Epstein, Brunel and Prince Andrew.
‘Jeffrey and the Prince were laughing… and then they undressed and then I performed a sex act on them – Jeffrey first and then Andrew. It was disgusting. There was no pleasure in it.’
Buckingham Palace strongly denies Virginia’s claims, as does Prince Andrew. In 2015, a judge ordered them to be struck from the court record in a legal case that she’d filed.
Then, one day, out of the blue, Epstein asked her to bear his child. He’d buy her a house and give her a generous allowance, he told her. Maxwell chipped in, promising that Virginia would have 24-hour nannies. There were caveats. She’d have to agree to fly with the child to anywhere Epstein wanted her to be. And if they split up, the child would belong to him alone.
Prince Andrew is reportedly plotting an attempt to return to public life – but is being thwarted by his own brother Charles
This last clause was too much for Virginia. Careful not to rile him with an outright no, she said she wanted to get professional certificates in massage therapy first – then maybe she’d consider having a baby the following year.
Pleased with her answer, Epstein and Maxwell were in a good mood over dinner. Virginia, on the other hand, had taken a double dose of tranquillisers. Later that night, when they ravished her body, she felt nothing.
On her 19th birthday, Epstein announced he was sending her to Thailand for eight weeks to study for her massage therapy certificates. It wasn’t the kind of course she would have chosen herself, but she studied hard during the day and partied at night.
One evening, she was invited to watch a kickboxing tournament. It was there that Virginia met an Australian called Robert Giuffre. After sharing a pepperoni pizza with her, he walked her to her hotel. The following evening, they talked and talked. She ended up telling him quite a bit about her sordid life – but rather than condemning her, he reacted with compassion.
Before the end of her massage course, Giuffre had proposed and she’d accepted. Nervously, Virginia called Epstein’s office. When he answered, she blurted out: ‘I’m getting married.’
She then gabbled on about Robert and how wonderful he was.
‘Have a good life,’ said Epstein, and slammed the phone down.
In Australia, Virginia and Robert Giuffre married and would eventually have three children. She tried never to think of her degrading past – until one day, in 2005, three men knocked on their door. Two were Australian federal agents. The other was from the FBI.
Other under-age victims had been speaking to the Miami police and they needed her testimony.
Petrified that Epstein might retaliate, Virginia initially hesitated but in the end gave a statement.
The story of Jane Doe #3 (as she was referred to in legal documents) turned out to be remarkably similar to that of the other girls. Photographs, records and other witnesses confirmed large parts of what she’d said.
When the case against Epstein went to court in Florida three years later, his formidable defence team secured a plea bargain.
He was sentenced to only 13 months, much of it in a cushy work-release programme.
In the meantime, along with other victims, Virginia had sued Epstein for damages. She received a considerable sum in 2009.
Resuming her normal family life in Australia, she imagined that was the last time she’d be connected to him in any way.
What changed her mind, though, was the photo of Epstein – now a convicted paedophile – strolling nonchalantly with Prince Andrew in New York’s Central Park in 2010. Appalled, she decided it was time she went public – this time under her real name.
Determined to see justice done, Virginia’s next step was to accuse Ghislaine Maxwell of recruiting and abusing her.
And when Maxwell called her a liar, Virginia sued for defamation. The case never went to trial: it was settled for $5 million in 2017.
By the following year, more victims were speaking out. The sheer scale of abuse was becoming impossible to ignore.
Rearrested and charged in July 2019, Epstein then apparently hanged himself 35 days later in a high-security jail.
For her part, Maxwell was found guilty in 2021 of sex trafficking and is due to be sentenced later this month. She is likely to spend the rest of her life in jail.
Inevitably, news had leaked of Prince Andrew’s friendship with them both. Accused of having sex with Virginia when she was 17 – under-age by US law – the Prince had tried to draw a line under the allegations in 2019 by giving his infamous Newsnight interview.
Last August, Virginia filed a lawsuit against him, alleging sexual assault in London, New York and on Epstein’s private Caribbean island.
Rather than give evidence in a public trial, Andrew settled in February for about £12 million, with no admission of liability.
Virginia Giuffre is now 38. The process of exacting justice for herself and other victims has, at times, been unbearably stressful. Yes, she’s richer than she ever expected. But her best revenge is to remain happily married to a man who’s never doubted her true worth.
© Nigel Cawthorne, 2022
Virginia Giuffre, by Nigel Cawthorne, is published by Gibson Square Books on June 30 at £9.99. To order a copy for £8.99, go to mailshop.co.uk/books or call 020 3176 2937 before July 2. Free UK delivery on orders over £20.