Prince Andrew may face sexual assault lawsuit as judge throws out claim

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  • Prince Andrew, Duke of York
    Prince Andrew, Duke of York
    Second son and third child of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (born 1960)
  • Jeffrey Epstein
    American financier
  • Virginia Giuffre
    Alleged victim of the underage sex trafficking ring operated by Jeffrey Epstein
  • Lewis A. Kaplan
    United States District Judge
Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

A judge has rejected Prince Andrew's lawyer's attempts to have a civil sexual assault lawsuit made against him by Virginia Giuffre thrown out. Lawyers representing the royal and his accuser made arguments to US judge Lewis Kaplan, who ultimately refused to dismiss the case. The Prince has long denied any wrongdoing and his lawyers submitted to the court that he "never sexually abused or assaulted Giuffre" and that he "unequivocally denies Giuffre’s false allegations against him."

It comes after a previously secret settlement between Giuffre and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein was made public. The document, which was released on Monday 3 January, showed that Epstein had paid Giuffre $500,000 (£371,000) to end her claim against him and agree not to sue any other "potential defendant".

Although the settlement Giuffre made with Epstein did not explicitly name Prince Andrew, his lawyers claimed that this deal negates any grounds for her to sue him. His lawyers argued that Giuffre's lawsuit was "unfair" and "unjust", and "should absolutely be dismissed". But Judge Kaplan disagreed with the royal's lawyers, and said the motion to have the case dismissed was "denied in all respects". This means that the Duke of York may now face a civil case trial later this year if no agreement can be reached.

Speaking about Kaplan's ruling, Giuffre's lawyer David Boies told Sky News that she was "pleased with the court's decision", pointing out that ultimately "she wants to achieve justice."

Photo credit: Virginia Giuffre
Photo credit: Virginia Giuffre

"It is only one step in the process, it does not resolve the case but it rejects certain legal defences Prince Andrew was putting up to avoid the trial" Boies added, before explaining that he thinks Andrew's legal team's "options are exhausted". That said, he still suspects they will have "creative arguments they want to make".

Giuffre is suing the the 61-year-old for damages based on claims that she was trafficked to him as a teenager by Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell – who was this month convicted of recruiting and trafficking young girls to be abused by the financier, who died in prison in 2019.

In her 2009 claim against Epstein, Giuffre's lawyers said: "In addition to being continually exploited to satisfy defendant's [Epstein] every sexual whim, [Giuffre] was also required to be sexually exploited by defendant's adult male peers, including royalty, politicians, academicians, businessmen and or other professional and personal acquaintances."

Speaking about his friendship with Epstein, the Duke previously said: "I continue to unequivocally regret my ill-judged association with Jeffrey Epstein."

He continued, "I deeply sympathise with everyone who has been affected and wants some form of closure. I can only hope that, in time, they will be able to rebuild their lives. Of course, I am willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations, if required."

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