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Royal Scandal! What Does a Pedophile Have to Do With the Royal Family?

Sarah Ferguson Nancy Kaszerman/ZumaPress.com

If you're a celebrity with a big scandal who's hoping to somehow fly under the radar, this is the week to disclose it. (And then send a big old muffin basket to Charlie Sheen for taking the heat off.)

Not one to waste such an invaluable opportunity, Fergie (as in Duchess of York, not as in Black Eyed Pea) has come clean on her own latest foray into the indecent—and needless to say, it's a whopper.

And a rather disturbing one at that.

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Sarah Ferguson (who recently made news for being one of the only royal family members to not be invited to William and Kate's wedding) and her ex-husband Prince Andrew (uncle to Princes Wills and Harry, henceforth to be known as the black sheep) have been to the British tabloid press this week what good old Chuckles is to ours, after admitting that they accepted money from Jeffrey Epstein, a U.S. financier and, more importantly, convicted sex offender who has settled more than a dozen cases out of court and who spent 13 months in prison for soliciting an underage girl for prostitution in 2008.

Not exactly the type of character a member of the royal family should be mixed up with.

And definitely not the type of character a prince should go on vacation with, or whose seemingly underage masseuse a prince should be photographed with his arm around. Just as a couple for instances.

But the biggest gaffe of all was that the previously bankrupt Ferguson, who last year admitted to being in cahoots with a tabloid to set up access to Andrew in exchange for money, accepted a hefty payment from Epstein in order to get her out of debt.

She has admitted to accepting a one-time payment of $22,000 from Epstein—which in a particular bout of suspicious and just plain bad timing came immediately after Andrew vacationed with him—which was to be the first of many as part of an overall restructuring of her considerable debt. Yesterday, amid ever-mounting column inches dedicated to her self-described "gigantic error of judgment," Ferguson offered up an apology.

"I personally, on behalf of myself, deeply regret that Jeffrey Epstein became involved in any way with me," she told London's Evening Standard newspaper. "I abhor pedophilia and any sexual abuse of children and know this is a gigantic error of judgment on my behalf.

"I am just so contrite I cannot say. Whenever I can I will repay the money and will have nothing ever to do with Jeffrey Epstein again."

She went on to further attempt to distance herself from the financier, saying she had no idea about his criminal past and is "distraught" that she accepted help from the man who she said was "rightly jailed."

But most of all, she did her best to distance Prince Andrew from the mess, as he himself has yet to speak out, explain or offer an apology for his own prominent role in the scandal. (There's already talk in the British press of him losing his role of trade envoy, though the prime minister has spoken out in support of the royal.)

"Once again my errors have compounded and rebounded and also inadvertently impacted on the man I admire most in the world, the duke," Ferguson told the paper. "He has supported me and come to my rescue again and again and there is absolutely nothing that I would not do for him.

"I would throw myself under a bus for him. It is in times of difficulty that character shows itself. I am a fiery Irish redhead and I am to remain strong, fight strong and try to do what is right."

What is right apparently included defending Andrew against "any more abuse from any suggestion or implications of impropriety. It is so wrong."

She called the duke a "first-rate father," "first-rate man" and "the finest that I know."

Though given the company she seems to keep, we're not sure that's saying much. In any case, Oprah Winfrey no doubt can't be too pleased about the recent goings-on. For the past few months, Fergie has been shooting Finding Sarah, a reality show set to debut this summer about her struggle to get out of her $7 million debt, for Oprah's network OWN.

Maybe she should've asked for a raise.

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