In 2015, Virginia Roberts gave testimony about her alleged life as a trafficking victim of Jeffrey Epstein to a Florida Court in a failed attempt to join a civil suit against the US Government. Two victims of Epstein were suing the US government over a widely criticised plea deal granted to Epstein in 2008, in which multiple charges of sex-trafficking and child sex abuse were watered down to a single count of soliciting prostitution from an underage girl. (BBC report.) Virginia Roberts (‘Jane Doe 1’ in the case filing) had wanted to join that case as a victim; Judge Kenneth Marra ruled she could appear in any subsequent Epstein case as a witness but not as a victim.
In addition to evidence of trafficking by Epstein and his partner Ghislaine Maxwell, Roberts testimony contained claims about having sex with lawyer and Harvard Professor Alan Dershowitz and Prince Andrew, Duke of York, on several occasions. Both vehemently deny the claims until this day (see Prince Andrew Newsnight interview analysis blog). Roberts giving testimony under oath to a Florida Court and had legal representation.
Outliar™ ‘Linguistic Polygraph’ Methodology
Outliar™ Linguistic Polygraph is based on principles of deceptive communication drawn from Information Manipulation Theory (McCornack et al. 2014): that lies are built on truth and therefore deception most often produces texts that are a strategic mixture of truth and lies. Using this insight, the Outliar™ methodology utilizes the most sensitive linguistic deception cues (LDCs) drawn from the academic literature (see Hauch et al. 2015 for a good overview), as well as LDCs used on investigator training programmes, in order to identify and separate credible and suspicious content (see Popoola (2017) for a case study). Disclaimer: Outliar™ is not a lie detector. It is an investigative linguistic tool that highlights credible text segments and identifies suspicious text segments as ‘points of interest’ deserving further investigation i.e. loci of potential deception.
Virginia Roberts Giuffre testimony
Credible testimony segments
Segment 1: Roberts describes how she met Epstein and Maxwell and how she was groomed. There are verifiable details as well as sincere reflection on her motivation and willingness to work for Epstein (“they were promising me the world,” line 22). Roberts alludes to the fact that her father accompanied her (“My father was not allowed upstairs, line 15”, ). This embarrassing detail (it is the first and only mention of her father) increases credibility.
Segment 6: Roberts’ description of meeting Prince Andrew the first time contains clear details of places (Ghislaine Maxwell’s house; Club Tramp), people (Prince Andrew’s security detail), conversations (Sarah “Fergie” Ferguson; Epstein’s instructions) and intention (“exceed everything”- line 157).
Segment 8: Roberts describes her second and third encounters with ‘Andy’ with additional verifiable details including a new co-witness (Johanna Sjoberg), another alleged Epstein conspirator (Jean-Luc Brunel) and recall of conversations. Roberts is specific about the location of events and freely offers time-specific and contextual information, indicating she is confident of her information and not afraid of incriminating herself.
Segment 10: Roberts mentions a number of named entities and specific details – Epstein, Brunel, Maxwell, Sarah Kellen, U.S. Virgin Islands, Palm Beach, New Mexico – to give a concise summary of the sex trafficking operation; the main actors and their motivations are outlined and the varying levels of involvement are conveyed with a measured tone. Rumours that former US President Bill Clinton was also among the public and elite figures that made up Epstein’s alleged clientele are evenly rebutted; this distinction adds credibility to the accusations Roberts does make.
Segment 12: At the end of her testimony, Roberts admits that she has omitted details in relation to sexual activities to focus her testimony on the trafficking operation (global travel, glamorous events and powerful people). Indications of potentially suspicious or low-credibility testimony should be interpreted in the context of this admission and Roberts’ willingness to divulge further details if legally required. The combination of ‘omission admission’ the truth declaration made under penalty of perjury add to Roberts’ credibility.
Suspicious testimony segments
Segment 2: Here, Roberts is distancing herself from events and removing self-agency (High ration of ‘me’ to ‘I’ in comparison to other segments); Roberts may be downplaying her level of willingness in the circumstances described. Admission of some level of agency (e.g. admitting that she was not literally imprisoned) would aid credibility.
The role of Ghislaine Maxwell is unclear; it is odd that Roberts describes being fearful of Epstein but not Maxwell although they were allegedly both involved in the training. This lack of coherence may mean pertinent information about Maxwell has been omitted. Contrasting Epstein and Maxwell would aid credibility; nuance and the ability to draw distinctions are signs of veracity.
Segment 7: High use of ‘we’ indicates Virginia is emphasising her willingness to be included in the company. It is also noteworthy that Virginia use ‘we’ in reference to the claimed ‘sexual activities’ with Prince Andrew. This, and use of the familiar ‘Andy’, also suggests willingness/complicitness. This tone is out of kilter with the general communication of a regimented trafficking operation.
The reference to the ‘sexual activities’ is notably brief compared to the rest of the story and is referenced impersonally. This could indicate omission of pertinent information. Roberts later admits pleasant surprise at receiving $15,000 from Epstein on this occasion with ‘Andy’ (“When I got back from my trip, Epstein paid me more than he had paid me to be with anyone else — approximately $15,000” – see lines 196-198 in in my analysis transcript.
Considering the credibility of the surrounding trext, a reason analysis flags this segment as a suspicious point-of-interest is that Roberts may be omitting information that would explain why she was rewarded so ‘generously’ for the sexual activities alluded to here (see note on omissions in the Segment 12 analysis above).
Summary and Postscript
This is generally credible testimony because the suspicious segments are actually explained in the credible segments; regarding Segment 2’s elision of the role of Ghislaine Maxwell, this is developed to some extent in other parts of the testimony. Also the main focus of this testimony was the ongoing investigation of Epstein so it may be understandable that Roberts focus was not on Maxwell.
Similarly, although the segment relating to Roberts’ first sexual encounter with Prince Andrew is flagged as suspicious, the subsequent narration of the 2nd and 3rd encounters restore credibility. It may be that the disparity between what Roberts was allegedly paid for the 1st encounter with Prince Andrew, $15000, and the 3-figure sums received on subsequent occasions (see line 208 in my analysis transcript), reflect differences in the service provided that were omitted .
Ambiguity in relation to Roberts’ motivation and incentivisation should be investigated. Questioning should probe the psychological and financial aspect of her ‘working’ relationship with Epstein as well as Roberts’ relationship with Ghislaine Maxwell.