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Palace issues flurry of denials over Prince Andrew underage sex claims

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Prince Andrew prepares to depart Westminster Abbey after the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton on April 29, 2011.

(CNN) — Buckingham Palace, a typically tight-lipped institution, took the unusual step of issuing yet more denials Monday over allegations that Prince Andrew took part in a sex ring involving underage girls.

The latest royal statements came after the name emerged of the woman who has claimed in a U.S. federal court filing that she was forced to have sex with several men — including Prince Andrew — when she was a teenager.

Virginia Roberts made the allegations in a civil motion filed last week in U.S. District Court in southern Florida, joined by another unnamed woman.

Roberts wasn’t identified in the court filing, but her name was widely reported in the British news media over the weekend.

Buckingham Palace refuted Roberts’ specific claims, saying it “emphatically” denied the accusations against the prince.

The Palace also took issue with reports in the British press, which citing Roberts’ father alleged that Roberts had met Queen Elizabeth II, who is Prince Andrew’s mother.

The Palace said there is no record of a meeting.

Andrew, who was on vacation when the media storm over the accusations erupted, returned to Britain late Sunday, the Palace said. The prince, also known as the Duke of York, has yet to comment publicly on the scandal.

Billionaire’s plea deal

Roberts and another woman are seeking to join two other women who are arguing in federal court for the U.S. government to take a fresh look at its case involving self-made billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, who pleaded guilty some years ago in Florida to a state charge of prostitution solicitation.

The investment banker agreed to a state plea deal in 2007 and began serving an 18-month sentence in 2008, said The New York Times.

According to The Times and the Washington Post, Epstein was the subject of a federal investigation but a deal allowed him to plead guilty to the lesser state charge and avoid a potential federal case.

Prince Andrew has been photographed with Epstein. The prince previously issued an apology for his friendship with the scandal-plagued billionaire.

The court filing last week claims that Roberts “was forced to have sexual relations” with the prince in London, New York and on Epstein’s private island in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Buckingham Palace has pointed out in one of its earlier denials that Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, is not a direct party to the “ongoing civil proceedings in the United States.”

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