Did downed power lines cause wildfire? Xcel says it’s not finding evidence of that

BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) – Authorities are still trying to pinpoint where exactly the Marshall Fire started and spread at an intense rate through neighborhoods in Jefferson and Boulder counties.

Speculation from possible witnesses hinted at downed power lines seen at Highway 93 and Marshall Road (photo below) as being the source of the devastating fire.

However, the Boulder Office of Emergency Management said Friday that Xcel Energy said it has not found any downed power lines in the ignition area.

“Initial reports of the fire were from residents who claimed to have seen downed powerlines in or near the ignition area. Xcel Energy has been a very responsive and invaluable partner. At this point, they have inspected all of their lines within the ignition area and found no downed powerlines,” Boulder OEM said in a statement on its website. “They did find some compromised communication lines that may have been misidentified as powerlines.”

In any case, the fire swept through dry brush areas and residential areas, igniting everything with a category 2 hurricane speed.

Marshall Fire area of spread (credit: Inciweb)

Boulder OEM said the investigation is ongoing, the organization said it doesn’t believe communications lines would be able to start a fire.

“Typically, communications lines (telephone, cable, internet, etc.) would not be the cause of a fire,” Boulder OEM said.

Miraculous: No casualties reported in devastating Colorado wildfires

Hundreds of homes were destroyed in Superior, Colorado.

Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle called the lack of casualties or fatalities “pretty miraculous” following the Colorado wildfires that quickly destroyed hundreds of homes on Thursday.

“We were fortunate that the winds dissipated last night,” Pelle said in a press conference on Friday. “It’s still too dangerous to return. We saw active fires in many places this morning. We saw downed power lines; we saw a lot of risks that we’re still trying to mitigate.”

Hundreds of homes were destroyed and thousands were forced to evacuate in Boulder County on Thursday when wind-fueled grass fires exploded into infernos. The more dangerous of the two, the Marshall Fire, “ballooned” to approximately 1,600 acres, Pelle said in a Thursday briefing.

The cause of the fires is still being investigated. According to the Boulder County Office of Emergency Management, Xcel Energy Colorado found no downed wires in the ignition area despite initial reports.

There were more than 2,000 homes in the affected area. About 500 homes have been lost to the blaze so far, but that total could rise to roughly 1,000 with further assessments, according to Pelle.

Residents of Louisville, a town of 20,000, and Superior, a town of 13,000, were alerted to evacuate immediately on Thursday.

The mayor of Superior, which was decimated by the sudden and fast-moving wildfires, called the situation “very grave” in an interview with “Good Morning America.”

“I spent a couple of hours yesterday driving around in the afternoon with the sheriff’s office and town manager just making an assessment of the situation there on the ground and it’s grave,” Superior Mayor Clint Folsom told “GMA.” “It’s nothing like I would have ever imagined would have happened.”

Folsom said he was fearful of what emergency responders might find in the coming days after hundreds of homes burned “in a matter of minutes.”

Pelle and Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said some families in Louisville and Superior had little time to prepare to leave their homes in what the National Weather Service’s Denver/Boulder bureau called a “life-threatening” situation.

“In the blink of an eye, this was a disaster in fast motion,” Polis said at a press conference. “All over the course of half a day. Nearly all the damage. Many families having minutes to get whatever they could, their pets, their kids into the car and leave. The last 24 hours have been devastating, truly unimaginable.”

Folsom said that strong winds were not uncommon in the area, but “this was a wind like I’ve never seen.” Combined with an extraordinarily dry summer and fall, the conditions were ripe for a devastating blaze.

Several inches of snow are anticipated Friday, which could help efforts, Pelle said.

“We might have our very own New Year’s Miracle on our hands if it holds up that there was no loss of life,” Polis said.

1 suspect in custody, another still at large in connection with shooting of Illinois officers

One police officer was killed in Wednesday’s shooting.

Police have arrested a suspect wanted in connection with the shooting of two Illinois police officers that left one of them dead, while a second suspect remains at large, authorities said.

Darius Sullivan, 25, was taken into custody Friday morning without incident after authorities conducted a search warrant on a home in North Manchester, Indiana, police said. Narcotics and multiple weapons were found inside the home, according to Indiana State Police Sgt. Glen Fifield.

Sullivan had warrants out of Illinois for his arrest on first-degree murder, attempted murder and aggravated battery with a firearm charges, Fifield said, in connection with Wednesday’s fatal shooting at a hotel in Kankakee County, Illinois.

Bradley Police Department Sgt. Marlene Rittmanic, 49, was killed after responding to a noise complaint at a Comfort Inn, authorities said. Her partner, Officer Tyler Bailey, 27, was wounded in the shooting and remains hospitalized in critical condition, Illinois State Police said in an update Thursday night.

Sullivan, of Bourbonnais, Illinois, will be transferred to the Kankakee County Sheriff’s Department, Fifield said. Police are still determining his connection to the North Manchester residence. It is unclear if he has an attorney.

An arrest warrant has also been issued for a second suspect in connection with the shooting, Xandria Harris, 26, of Bradley, Illinois, state police said. She was not present at the North Manchester home when Sullivan was taken into custody, according to Fifield.

“We are actively looking for her,” Fifield said.

The Kankakee County Sheriff’s Office was offering a $25,000 reward for information that led to the arrest of Sullivan. Fifield said the reward still stands for information leading to the arrest of Harris.

The history behind the New Years Eve ball drop ceremony

The ball drop in Times Square has a rich history behind it.

Every New Year’s Eve, thousands of revelers gather in New York City’s Times Square to watch the iconic ball drop from the top of One Times Square.

Dropping balls to signify a specific moment in time actually dates back to the early 19th century. According to the official Times Square website, a time-ball was installed at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, England, in 1833. The ball would drop every day at 1 o’clock, allowing nearby boats to synchronize their timing instruments.

These time balls soon become common at naval academies and observatories and eventually made their way to the United States.


The New Years Eve Ball Drop in Time Square dates back to 1907.

The New Years Eve Ball Drop in Time Square dates back to 1907.

The first time ball dropped in Times Square in 1907. According to History.com, the first time ball was built by New York Times publisher Adolph Ochs, who had been denied a fireworks permit for the new year’s celebration. Times Square had become the focal point of the city’s New Year’s Eve celebrations starting in 1904.


The first ball weighed 700 pounds and was emblazoned with 100 25-watt bulbs.

Since 1907, the ball has only not been dropped to commemorate the new year twice: in 1942 and 1943. Both years’ celebrations were scaled back due to wartime limitations placed on New York City.


The Times Square Ball drops from the top of One Times Square in New York City.

The Times Square Ball drops from the top of One Times Square in New York City.

The current Times Square time ball weighs 11,875 pounds and is covered with 2,688 Waterford Crystals. Instead of 25-watt light bulbs, the ball is lit up by 32,256 LEDs, made up of red, blue, green and white lights. This allows the ball to display more than 16 million colors and patterns.

Missouri to end COVID-19 state of emergency, citing effectiveness of vaccine

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Missouri Gov. Mike Parson is allowing the COVID-19 state of emergency that has been in place since March 2020 to expire, saying that “we all now know how to best fight and prevent serious illness from this virus.”

Parson, a Republican, announced on Friday that the state’s COVID-related state of emergency would not be renewed on New Year’s Eve.  

“Thanks to the effectiveness of the vaccine, widespread efforts to mitigate the virus, and our committed health care professionals, past needs to continue the state of emergency are no longer present,” Parson said.  


Gov. Mike Parson speaks during a press conference to discuss the status of license renewal for the St. Louis Planned Parenthood facility on May 29, 2019 in Jefferson City, Missouri. 

Gov. Mike Parson speaks during a press conference to discuss the status of license renewal for the St. Louis Planned Parenthood facility on May 29, 2019 in Jefferson City, Missouri. 
(Jacob Moscovitch/Getty Images)

The Missouri governor explained that over the past 22 months the administration has worked to mitigate COVID-19 and return to “normalcy.” 

“In Missouri, we never had mandates or forced lockdowns,” Parson explained. “The main focus of our state of emergency was to provide regulatory flexibility to support and assist Missourians, health care facilities, and businesses and coordinate a COVID-19 response that saved lives and livelihoods.” 


“The State stands ready to provide assistance and response, but there is no longer a need for a state of emergency,” he said. 

Parson addresses the media at the Missouri State Capitol Building on May 17, 2019, in Jefferson City, Missouri. 

Parson addresses the media at the Missouri State Capitol Building on May 17, 2019, in Jefferson City, Missouri. 
(Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images)

The governor’s office also explained that at one time nearly “600 statutory and regulatory waivers” were approved across Missouri state government.” This number has been reduced by 80% and remaining waivers will end on Friday. 

Accordingly, Missouri National Guard will no longer be activated for COVID-related issues. 

Parson encouraged residents to consider getting the COVID-19 vaccine.  

“The best method to prevent serious illness from COVID-19 is vaccination, and more and more Missourians continue choosing to get primary and booster vaccinations,” the press release stated.


In December, over 565,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine were given to residents with 42% being “part of a primary vaccine series.” 

While Missouri is doing away with its state of emergency, some states are taking the opposite approach.


Delaware Gov. John Carney at Dover Downs Casino on June 5, 2018, in Dover, Delaware.  

Delaware Gov. John Carney at Dover Downs Casino on June 5, 2018, in Dover, Delaware.  
(Mark Makela/Getty Images)

Gov. John Carney just announced Delaware will enter a state of emergency starting on Monday due to COVID-19, according to a Fox News report

The governor will be activating the National Guard to help with hospital staffing shortages and combating the “winter surge of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.” 

Fox News’ Timothy Nerozzi contributed to this report. 

Beloved American actress Betty White dies aged 99

Iconic American comedian and actress Betty White, whose groundbreaking career spanned decades, has died at age 99, US media outlets have reported.

Jeff Witjas, White’s agent and close friend, told People magazine in a statement on Friday that “even though Betty was about to be 100, I thought she would live forever”.

“I will miss her terribly and so will the animal world that she loved so much. I don’t think Betty ever feared passing because she always wanted to be with her most beloved husband Allen Ludden. She believed she would be with him again,” Witjas said.

Citing law enforcement sources, TMZ first reported that White died at her home on Friday morning, less than three weeks before her 100th birthday on January 17.

The Washington Post also confirmed White’s death, citing her agent. No cause of death was specified, the newspaper said.

The cast of The Golden Girls, Estelle Getty, Bea Arthur, Rue McClanahan and Betty White poseWhite, right, played Rose Nylund on The Golden Girls, which ran in the 1980s and 90s [Paul Drinkwater/NBCU Photo Bank]

Perhaps best known for her memorable roles on “The Golden Girls” and “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”, White’s decades-long career blazed a trail for other female comedians and actresses in the United States.

In a youth-driven industry where an actress above age 40 often faces career twilight, White remained a star in her 60s and became a pop culture phenomenon in her 80s and 90s.

Playing on her imminent likability, White was still starring in the TV sitcom “Hot in Cleveland” at age 92, until it was cancelled in late 2014.

White said her longevity was a result of good health, good fortune and loving her work.

“It’s incredible that I’m still in this business and that you are still putting up with me,” White said in an appearance at the 2018 Emmy Awards ceremony, where she was honoured for her long career. “It’s incredible that you can stay in a career this long and still have people put up with you. I wish they did that at home.”

In her last Twitter post on December 28, White shared a recent interview she gave to People magazine before her centennial birthday.

She said she was “so lucky to be in such good health and feel so good” at her age, telling the US outlet that she was “born a cockeyed optimist”.

“I got it from my mom, and that never changed,” she said. “I always find the positive.”

Born Betty Marion White on January 17, 1922, in Oak Park, Illinois, her family moved to Los Angeles during the Great Depression, where she attended Beverly Hills High School.

White started her entertainment career in radio in the late 1930s, and by 1939 had made her TV debut singing on an experimental channel in Los Angeles. After serving in the American Women’s Voluntary Service, which helped the US effort during World War II, she was a regular on Hollywood on Television, a daily five-hour live variety show, in 1949.

A few years later she became a pioneering woman in television by co-founding a production company and serving as a co-creator, producer and star of the 1950s sitcom “Life With Elizabeth”.

Through the 1960s and early 70s, White was seen regularly on television, hosting coverage of the annual Tournament of Rose Parade and appearing on game shows such as Match Game, and Password. She married Password host Allen Ludden, her third and final husband, in 1963.

Mary Tyler Moore, Betty White, Gavin McLeod and other cast members in a scene from the Mary Tyler Moore showWhite won best-supporting actress Emmys in 1975 and 1976 for her role on The Mary Tyler Moore Show [CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images]

White reached a new level of success on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, playing the host of a home-making television show, the snide, lusty Sue Ann Nivens, whose credo was “a woman who does a good job in the kitchen is sure to reap her rewards in other parts of the house”.

White won best-supporting actress Emmys for the role in 1975 and 1976. She won another Emmy in 1986 for The Golden Girls, a sitcom about four older women living together in Miami that featured an age demographic rarely highlighted on American television.

White was also nominated for an Emmy six other times for her portrayal of the widowed Rose Nylund, a sweet, naive and ditzy Midwesterner, on the show, which ran from 1985 to 1992 and was one of the top-rated series of its time.

Tributes poured in for White after news of her death broke on Friday afternoon.

“RIP Betty White, the only [Saturday Night Live] host I ever saw get a standing ovation at the after party,” Seth Meyers, an SNL alum and host of Late Night with Seth Meyers, wrote on Twitter. “A party at which she ordered a vodka and a hotdog and stayed til the bitter end.”

Actor and director Henry Winkler said it was “very hard to absorb” the news of White’s death, but thanked her for her “humor, warmth and activism”.

Actor George Takei described White as a “national treasure” and urged people to raise a toast to her at midnight. White “has joined the heavens to delight the stars with her inimitable style, humor, and charm”, Takei wrote on Twitter.

Comedian Kathy Griffin also said: “She was as sharp and funny as she was soft and wise and no matter how long this world continues to spin, there will be only one Betty White.”

Winter Storm Warning issued for Saturday for Chicago area

Posted: Dec 31, 2021 / 02:32 PM CST
Updated: Dec 31, 2021 / 02:32 PM CST

A Winter Storm Warning has been issued for this weekend in the Chicago area.

The warning goes into effect at 9 a.m. for Winnebago, Boone, McHenry, Ogle, Lee, De Kalb, Kane, La Salle, Kendall, Grundy and will counties.

The warning goes into effect at noon for Lake, DuPage and Cook counties in Illinois.

Steady, blowing snow and dangerous travel expected. Total snow accumulations of 5 to 9 inches are expected. Winds could gusts up to 40 mph Saturday afternoon and evening, especially near the lake.

Full forecast details and more at the WGN Weather Center blog

The steadiest snow rates appear most likely between 2 p.m. Saturday and midnight Sunday.

Ghislaine Maxwells brother vows to fight guilty verdict

Ghislaine Maxwell’s family has branded her sex-trafficking conviction a “tremendous injustice” — complaining that she was unfairly portrayed as a “demon queen” and “the most hated woman in the world.”

“Ghislaine has been denied justice — has been denied a fair trial,” one of the socialite’s older brothers, Kevin Maxwell, told ABC News Thursday, saying he was “still shocked” at the verdict from the day before.

“The presumption of innocence never existed,” he said, insisting the family is “very confident” his well-connected 60-year-old sister will eventually be cleared on appeal.

Kevin Maxwell — who regularly turned up with his other siblings at their embattled sister’s Manhattan trial — said that “anybody who sat in and listened to the accusers’ testimony … is going to have been moved” by their tales of abuse by pedophile Jeffrey Epstein.

“And I can also understand anger,” he said. “But that doesn’t mean that I believe for a single second that my sister is guilty of the crimes of which she was convicted.”

Kevin Maxwell
Kevin Maxwell regularly appeared at his sister’s trial.

He stood by his sister’s defense that she was being unfairly punished for Epstein, her one-time lover and almost constant companion — complaining she had been portrayed as the late pedophile’s “demon queen” accomplice.

“There’s no, simply no, question that there are many victims of Jeffrey Epstein’s crimes,” the 62-year-old brother told ABC News.

“They’re simply not crimes that were committed by my sister,” he insisted.

“I remain absolutely persuaded of Epstein’s crimes. I’m equally persuaded that my sister will be exonerated on appeal, and these guilty verdicts will be overturned.”

Ghislaine’s other brother, Ian Maxwell, 65, also ripped the “shocking result” in an interview with The Telegraph, saying it “reflects the fact that Ghislaine has been denied the right to a fair trial, starting with the appalling conditions in which she has been held for over 18 months and which seriously impacted her ability to participate in her own defense.”

He accused prosecutors and “non-appearing accusers” of having “manipulated the media so that Ghislaine was branded the most hated woman in the world.”

(L-R) Kevin Maxwell, Christine Maxwell, Isabel Maxwell, and Ian Maxwell outside their sister's sex trafficking trial last week.
(L-R) Kevin Maxwell, Christine Maxwell, Isabel Maxwell, and Ian Maxwell outside their sister’s sex trafficking trial last week.
Peter Foley/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

“And this has gone on for years in the era of social media, Twitter and 24-hour streaming news and opinion,” he told The Telegraph. “This in itself has denied her a fair trial.”

“I am confident of the strong grounds for appeal both legal and evidential and that my sister will be vindicated and ultimately found innocent,” he told the UK paper.

Ghislaine, the Oxford-educated youngest child of late publishing tycoon Robert Maxwell, was convicted on five out of six counts for recruiting and grooming underage girls for years for Epstein.

Courtroom sketch showing Maxwell hearing her guilty verdict.
Following her conviction, Maxwell faces up to 70 years in prison.

The top charge — sex-trafficking of minors — carries a maximum of 40 years in prison, with the sentencing date yet to be set.

Epstein, 66, hanged himself in his Manhattan lockup in August 2019 while awaiting his own trial on serious sex charges.

New York City limits people at Time Squares ball drop

New York City readied to embrace the new year — and bid good riddance to another pandemic-marred 12 months — as it prepared to revive its annual New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square. 

It did so as an uneasy nation tried to muster optimism that the worst days of the pandemic are now behind it — even as public health officials cautioned Friday against unbridled celebrations amid surging COVID infections from the omicron variant. 

The city said it would limit the number of people it lets into Times Square to witness a 6-ton ball, encrusted with nearly 2,700 Waterford crystals, descend above a crowd of about 15,000 in-person spectators — far fewer than the many tens of thousands of revelers who usually descend on the world-famous square to bask in the lights, hoopla and shower of confetti during the nation’s marquee New Year’s Eve event. 


Pedestrians walk in a nearly empty Times Square ahead of the New Year's Eve celebration Thursday, Dec. 31, 2020, in New York.

Pedestrians walk in a nearly empty Times Square ahead of the New Year’s Eve celebration Thursday, Dec. 31, 2020, in New York.
(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, File)

“We are very excited to welcome back visitors to Times Square this New Year’s Eve,” said Tom Harris, the president of the Times Square Alliance. “Our goal is to have a safe and responsible event for the world to see.” 

The annual ball drop takes place Friday, as the clock ticks into midnight and ushers in the new year, an occasion usually commemorated with Champagne, clinking pints, joyous embraces and hopes for better times ahead. 

But 2022 begins just as the year prior began — with the pandemic clouding an already uncertain future. 

Doubts swirled whether the city would have to cancel this year’s bash, as the city posted record numbers of COVID cases in the days leading to it, even as some cities like Atlanta had decided to cancel their own celebrations. 

Last year’s ball drop was closed to the public because of the outbreak. 

COVID-19 cases in the U.S. have soared to their highest levels on record at over 265,000 per day on average. New York City reported a record number of new, confirmed cases — more than 39,590 — on Tuesday, according to New York state figures. 

But Mayor Bill de Blasio, who will relinquish oversight of the nation’s most populous city at the stroke of midnight, said the festivities at Times Square would “show the world that New York City is fighting our way through this.” 

Officials said those attending the spectacle would have to wear masks and show proof of vaccination. Organizers had initially hoped that more than 50,000 revelers would be able to join in, but plans were dramatically scaled back because of widespread infections. 

Jaclyn Bernstein of New York stands in confetti, among the few to observe the Times Square New Year's Eve ball drop early Friday, Jan. 1, 2021. 

Jaclyn Bernstein of New York stands in confetti, among the few to observe the Times Square New Year’s Eve ball drop early Friday, Jan. 1, 2021. 
(AP Photo/Craig Ruttle, File)

Rap artist and actor LL Cool J was supposed to be among the performers taking the stage in Times Square Friday night, but announced he would pull out of the event because he had tested positive for COVID. 

New York City’s incoming mayor, Eric Adams, is scheduled to take his oath in Times Square soon after the ball drop. He expressed hope Thursday that 2022 would be “a new beginning of our resiliency.” 

It was a sentiment shared by ordinary people. 

College students and sisters Mary and Vanessa Anyakwo were guardedly optimistic, too, as they took in Times Square on an outing from their home in suburban Elmsford, New York. 

“I feel a lot more hopeful than I was last year because I think we have a lot more facilities” to handle the pandemic, said Mary, 20. 

Vanessa, 22, pointed to the crowds. “By this time last year,” she said, “I didn’t think it would be like this.” 

Paolo Brügger, a banker from Zurich, Switzerland, reflected on a world fed-up with having to endure wave after wave of the virus a year after 2021 dawned with hopes bottled up in vaccine vials. 

His optimism was tempered by the world’s new reality that the pandemic would linger into the new year. 


Confetti flies after the Times Square New Year's Eve Ball drops in a nearly empty Times Square due to COVID-19 lockdown, early Friday, Jan. 1, 2021. 

Confetti flies after the Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball drops in a nearly empty Times Square due to COVID-19 lockdown, early Friday, Jan. 1, 2021. 
(AP Photo/Craig Ruttle, File)

“A lot of people are asking themselves now, ‘Is this going to be like this every year — when we get into the cold season, we have a new variant, and we are back to square one?’” said Brügger, 55. 

Still, he was “extremely optimistic” about 2022, partly because of vaccines and new therapies against COVID-19 and partly, he said with a chuckle, “because it can’t be worse than the last two years.” 

Ghislaine Maxwell accuser speaks out: Wish her well in hell

A longtime Ghislaine Maxwell accuser said she wishes the convicted madam “well in hell”— while predicting the “calculating witch” will now turn on Prince Andrew to get a lighter sentence.

“Ghislaine Maxwell is a monster in every sense of the word,” Chauntae Davies told The Sun of the socialite she said “delivered” her to be repeatedly raped by pedophile Jeffrey Epstein.

“She deserves to die behind bars for what she did to me and the countless other women’s lives she destroyed,” said Davies, who was once famously photographed giving former President Bill Clinton a massage on Epstein’s “Lolita Express” jet.

“She and Epstein will meet each other in hell when her time comes. She made her bed and now she must lie in it,” Davies told the UK paper of the convicted sex trafficker facing up to 40 years behind bars.

“I wish her well in hell.”

Davies said she was 21 and a “young, naive massage therapy student” when she was “tricked by Maxwell and delivered to Epstein.”

“She was so charming I trusted her implicitly … She was a calculating witch,” Davies told the UK paper.

Ghislaine Maxwell in 2013.
Davies said Maxwell that ‘so charming’ and manipulated her and countless other women.

Davies — whose allegations were not part of Maxwell’s trial — has insisted that Clinton, now 75, was a “perfect gentleman” when she massaged him on a flight on Epstein’s jet.

However, high-profile figures who palled around with Epstein — especially Britain’s Prince Andrew — have good reason to fear the madam turning on them, Davies predicted.

“A rat will always try to force its way out of the sewer,” Davies said.

Chauntae Davies speaking to the press.
Davies was photographed massaging former President Bill Clinton Epstein’s private jet.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

“Since we all know Prince Andrew is one of those people who was close to her, he could be feeling very, very uncomfortable right about now,” she said.

“I doubt this is the last we have heard from her. She is now fighting for her life and she is the type of person who will do what she has to do.”

Ghislaine, the Oxford-educated youngest child of late publishing tycoon Robert Maxwell, was convicted on five of six counts for recruiting and grooming underage girls for Epstein. A sentencing date has yet to be set.

Maxwell and Epstein in 2005.
Maxwell, pictured above with Epstein in 2005, now faces up to 40 years behind bars.
Patrick McMullan via Getty Image

Epstein, 66, hanged himself in his Manhattan lockup in August 2019 while awaiting his own trial on serious sex charges.

Andrew, the middle son of Queen Elizabeth II, has long vehemently denied any connection with Epstein and Maxwell’s sex crimes. He is scheduled to hear next week whether a lawsuit filed in Manhattan by accuser Virginia Roberts Giuffre will go to trial.