The telephone line crackles and Steve Scully falls silent for a moment.
When he speaks again, his voice is full of remorse.
“I wish I could have asked her if she was OK,” he says.
“Maybe it was because it was Prince Andrew.
“Maybe it was because it was Jeffrey Epstein’s island.
“Maybe it was because we were continuously told, ‘You don’t interact with any of the guests’.
“I don’t know. But I didn’t do that, and I wish I would have.”
Scully is speaking to 7NEWS Spotlight from his tropical home in the US Virgin Islands.
He is now 72 and retired but, for almost seven years in the early 2000s, he was the telecommunications specialist on Jeffrey Epstein’s private Caribbean island.
For the past two decades, Scully has been abiding by a strict code of silence maintained by those close to – and employed by – the disgraced financier and convicted child sex offender.
But as a father of three daughters, he says he is refusing to keep quiet any longer about what he claims he witnessed on the multi-millionaire’s island and the way young girls were treated there.
A royal encounter
The ramifications could hardly be more serious because, among the rich and famous people Scully says he encountered on the island, is Prince Andrew.
He claims he saw the Duke engaging in sexual foreplay with a 17-year-old girl by a swimming pool on the island – and that her name is Virginia Giuffre.
“He removed her bathing suit top and then started grinding against her and grabbing her ass,” he tells 7NEWS Spotlight.
‘I said, ‘Hello, your Highness.’ And he said, ‘No, it’s Andrew.’’
“They were kissing as well. That’s when I had words with him. I said, ‘Hello, your Highness.’ And he said, ‘No, it’s Andrew.’
“I said, ‘I didn’t know exactly how I was supposed to address you, but I’m Steve the phone man.’
“He laughed at that (and) said, ‘Well, Steve the phone man, at least you work in a really beautiful place.’
“I said, ‘Yeah, the island is beautiful, without a doubt’.”
Accusations and lawsuits
Scully’s account goes to the heart of long-running sex abuse allegations levelled at Prince Andrew and Epstein – and has the potential to devastate the royal family.
Giuffre, who now lives in Australia, has accused Prince Andrew of sexually abusing her on three occasions when she was just 17.
She claims she was compelled to have sex with the Prince by Epstein in London, New York and on his island in 2001, and that she was the victim of sex trafficking.
Prince Andrew has consistently denied the allegations and has sought to strike out a civil lawsuit launched against him by Giuffre, maintaining he has never even met her.
For years, it has been a case of “he said, she said” – but now, all that has changed.
Scully travelled to Washington DC last month to be deposed by Giuffre’s legal team, and has agreed to give sworn evidence against Prince Andrew if her civil action proceeds to trial in New York next year.
If Scully’s testimony stands up to legal scrutiny, it could have serious implications for Prince Andrew that would reverberate throughout the royal family.
Speaking to 7NEWS Spotlight on the eve of his deposition, Scully says he has received no financial incentive for coming forward and has not seen nor heard from Giuffre since the day he saw her on Epstein’s island almost 20 years ago.
He says he felt compelled to come forward because he is still haunted by his alleged encounter with Prince Andrew and his failure to protect an innocent young teen in need.
I wish I’d asked her if she was OK
“Virginia was standing there. She kind of looked like she was like a deer caught in the headlights of the car,” Scully says.
“I wish I’d asked her if she was OK.
“If I were to see her again today, I would apologise to her for that, because I honestly think I should have said, ‘Are you all right? Because if you’re not, hey, I’ll take care of whatever needs to be taken care of to get you into an all right situation’.”
Watch Scully’s full interview in 7NEWS Spotlight: Sex, Lies & Audiotape – streaming now on 7plus.