Water worries



It’s Earth Day. MUST be time for an airboat ride…!



Duke of York “not pervert”

A US judge says so, it must be true



Allegations that the Duke of York sexually abused a teenage girl at the home of a Florida paedophile have been struck down by a US federal judge.

Virginia Roberts, 31, who claims that she was 17 when she was presented to Prince Andrew as a “sex slave” by his billionaire friend, Jeffrey Epstein, had made the accusations in an attempt to be included in an existing prosecution against the US government brought by two of Epstein’s victims.

Denying Ms Roberts’s application, which was made under the pseudonym “Jane Doe 3”, District Judge Kenneth A. Marra stated in a written order issued by the court in West Palm Beach, Florida, yesterday that: “These lurid details are unnecessary . . .These unnecessary details should be stricken.”

Ms Roberts, who is now a married mother of three living in Colorado, alleged in a 2009 civil claim that Epstein forced her “to have sexual relations with a member of the British royal family, Prince Andrew”, in New York, London, and on Epstein’s private island in the Caribbean.

The suit, settled by Epstein out of court for an undisclosed sum in 2010, claimed that Roberts was one of many under-age girls who took part in orgies, and alleged that Epstein told her “to give the prince whatever he required”.

The prince has always strongly denied the accusations.

Under the terms of a controversial deal, Epstein — a hedge fund tycoon with homes in Florida, New York and the US Virgin Islands — pleaded guilty in 2008 to a charge of soliciting a minor for prostitution. He served 13 months of an 18-month sentence in an open prison and had to register as a sex offender.

In exchange, federal charges of sexual abuse involving under-age girls were dropped. It is alleged that federal prosecutors neglected to confer with the victims and failed to notify them of the deal until nine months later, according to an unresolved legal action brought by two women identified on court documents only as “Jane Doe 1” and “Jane Doe 2”.

It was that case that Ms Roberts, along with “Jane Doe 4”, had sought to join. The pair were among about 40 women identified by the FBI as victims of a campaign of abuse by Epstein that began in the 1990s.

Judge Marra threw out Ms Roberts’s and Jane Doe 4’s application yesterday on the ground that “justice does not require adding new parties this late in the proceedings”.

His order also strikes from the court record Ms Roberts’s claim that she was sexually abused by Alan Dershowitz, a prominent lawyer who helped to secure Epstein a greatly reduced sentence after plea bargain negotiations with prosecutors in 2007

Mr Dershowitz, who has always denied the claims, told The Timesyesterday: “The judge basically found that these allegations were without evidentiary foundation, that they were impertinent, that they were improper.” He also said he would sue his accuser and her lawyers.

Skin doctor to the stars kills himself in Miami


A celebrity dermatologist known as the Baron of Botox had been “deeply hurt” by a television programme that parodied him before he committed suicide, his friends said yesterday.

Fredric Brandt was one of Botox’s earliest and most prolific champions. He was suffering from depression when he hanged himself in the garage of his home in Miami on Sunday. He was 65.

His unusual facial features, which resulted from his heavy personal use of the product and other injectable rejuvenators, singled him out for ridicule on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, a recently launched Netflix comedy written by the American comedian Tina Fey.

“The show definitely deeply hurt him. He was being made fun of because of the way he looks,” said Jacquie Trachtenberg, his publicist.

Although the show was “not the reason for his depression… not the reason he would take his own life… it didn’t help,” she said.

“It is mean. He felt bullied,” Ms Trachtenberg told the New York Post.

Others close to the doctor described him as “heartbroken” by public mockery. Brandt had recently wept in front of a client at his New York clinic, lamenting the cruelty of public comments, and spent hours reading what had been said or written about him and his skincare products, taking any negativity to heart.

“He was depressed and had been for a while, but the Kimmy Schmidt parody pushed him over the edge,” a friend of Brandt told the New York Daily News

“He thought: ‘Well, that was on Netflix, it’s not somebody making fun of you behind your back, it’s international.”

Another friend said : “He was really affected by negative feedback. His nature was so sweet and delicate, he couldn’t take it.”

In an interview with The Times in December, Brandt hinted that his upbeat public demeanour masked sadness and said that when the time came, he would want a “quick death”.

“People say I’m always happy, but I say nobody is always happy… laugh and the world laughs with you. Cry, and you’ll cry alone,” he said.

Brandt was one of the first to adopt Botox, a beauty product introduced to the market in the early 1990s. When injected in small quantities, it paralyses muscles to give skin a smoother appearance.

He was noted by his peers for his meticulous sense of artistry when it came to treating clients, who included Madonna, the actress Demi Moore and Stephanie Seymour, a supermodel.

He strived to make others look “fabulous, not frozen,” he stated, and shared his knowhow with new generations of practitioners for free.

Robert Kirsner, of the Miller School of Medicine in Miami, where Brandt taught, described his death as “tragic.”

“He will be missed. However, through his teaching and innovation, his legacy will live on,” he said.