Prince Andrew de Giuffre trial goes ahead despite Epstein deal
NEW YORK (AP) — A judge has — for now — declined to dismiss a lawsuit against Britain’s Prince Andrew by an American woman who says she sexually assaulted her when she was 17. Emphasizing on Wednesday that he was not commenting on the truth of the allegations, United States
NEW YORK (AP) — A judge has — for now — refused to dismiss a lawsuit against Britain’s Prince Andrew brought by an American woman who claims she sexually assaulted her when she was 17.
Emphasizing on Wednesday that he was not ruling on the veracity of the allegations, U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan rejected an argument by Andrew’s lawyers that Virginia Giuffre’s lawsuit should be dismissed at an early stage due to an old legal agreement she had with Jeffrey. Epstein, the financier she claims arranged sexual encounters with the prince.
Kaplan said the $500,000 settlement between Epstein and Giuffre does not implicate the prince and does not preclude a lawsuit against him now.
Giuffre sued Andrew, 61, in August, claiming she was coerced into having sex with him in 2001 by Epstein and his longtime girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell. Giuffre said she was sexually assaulted by Andrew at Maxwell’s home in London, at Epstein’s mansion in New York and at his estate in the US Virgin Islands.
Andrew’s lawyers had said the lawsuit lacked clarity and was disqualified by the deal she made in 2009 with Epstein’s lawyers. They also attacked Giuffre’s credibility and motives, saying in October that the lawsuit was aimed at obtaining “another salary at his expense and at the expense of those close to him”.
Kaplan said Giuffre’s complaint was neither “unintelligible” nor “vague” or “ambiguous”.
“He alleges discrete incidents of sexual abuse in specific circumstances at three identifiable locations. It identifies to whom it attributes this sexual abuse,” he wrote.
The judge included in his decision facts alleged by Giuffre, including that Epstein and Maxwell were invited to the prince’s 40th birthday party in 2000 and that Andrew invited Epstein to his daughter’s 18th birthday party in 2006, a month after Florida state prosecutors accused Epstein of procuring a minor for prostitution.
The prince’s lawyers said Andrew had never sexually abused or assaulted Giuffre and that he ‘unequivocally denies Giuffre’s false allegations against him’.
The prince himself strenuously denied Giuffre’s allegations. In late 2019, Prince Andrew told BBC Newsnight that sex with Giuffre “did not happen” and that he had “no recollection” of ever meeting her. His statements led critics to say he seemed insensitive to Epstein’s victims. Subsequently, the prince backed off. royal functions.
His attorneys did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment on Wednesday. Buckingham Palace told The Associated Press it would not comment on “the ongoing legal matter”.
Sigrid McCawley, attorney for Giuffre, said in a statement that Kaplan’s decision “is another important step in Virginia’s heroic and determined pursuit as a survivor of sex trafficking.”
While Andrew denies the allegations, Buckingham Palace will want him to settle the matter so Queen Elizabeth II can move on without more sordid headlines that weaken the monarchy and taint every member of the royal family, said Mark Stephens, international law specialist at Howard. Kennedy in London.
Stephens said Wednesday’s ruling means the process of delaying every technical point open to them as a matter of law has indeed taken place. Although Andrew is likely to appeal, the case will move forward and he will face the embarrassment of having to testify about his alleged activities with a 17-year-old.
“The practical realities of this position stuck a noose around Prince Andrew’s neck,” Stephens said. “He has to settle. He has to go out. Or it’s a dead man walking.
Kaplan noted that he was required by law, at this stage of the litigation, to assume that Giuffre’s allegations are true, although the prince’s lawyers may question the veracity of the claims at trial. The judge said a trial would not take place until the end of this year, at the earliest. The depositions of the prince and Giuffre would take place before this date.
Giuffre’s settlement with Epstein was reached a decade before the 66-year-old financier killed himself in a Manhattan federal prison while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges in 2019, more than a decade after federal prosecutors of Florida have reached an agreement with his attorneys not to prosecute him. . His attorneys claimed the Florida deal prevented the New York charges.
Similarly, Andrew’s lawyers cited language in Epstein’s recently unsealed $500,000 settlement with Giuffre that said his claims against “potential defendants” were also dismissed by the agreement.
But Kaplan wrote that there were substantial indications in the settlement that Epstein and Giuffre did not clearly intend to “directly”, “primarily” or “substantially” benefit someone like the prince. He noted that the prince was not a party to the deal.
He also said the agreement was “far from a model of clear and precise drafting”.
The judge’s findings reflected comments he had made during oral arguments from both sides when he was particularly dismissive of the arguments made on the prince’s behalf.
Epstein’s death came more than two years before his former girlfriend, Maxwell, 60, was convicted of sex trafficking and conspiracy in Manhattan federal court. Giuffre’s allegations against Andrew were not part of the criminal cases against Epstein or Maxwell.
Giuffre claimed she met Andrew when she traveled frequently with Epstein between 2000 and 2002, when her lawyers claimed she was “on call for Epstein for sexual purposes” and was “loaned to other powerful men”, including Andrew. still suffers from significant emotional and psychological distress and harm.
The AP generally does not identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they choose to come forward publicly, as Giuffre has done.
AP reporter Danica Kirka contributed from London.
Larry Neumeister and Tom Hays, Associated Press