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Prince Andrew launches legal gambit to derail sex abuse suit

The prince says Virginia Giuffre's $500,000 settlement with Jeffrey Epstein means he's exempt.
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Prince Andrew’s lawyers tried again Monday to block a lawsuit by a woman who says he sexually assaulted her when she was 17, releasing details of a legal settlement in which she took $500,000 from Jeffrey Epstein not to bring further legal action.

The deal, which was reached in 2009, is expected to be part of the prince’s arguments when his legal team argues Tuesday that the civil suit by the woman, Virginia Giuffre, should be dismissed. A federal judge in New York City rejected an earlier attempt by the royal defense team to derail Giuffre’s on the grounds that she no longer lives in the U.S.

Giuffre, now living in Australia, claims Epstein and his recently convicted confidant, Ghislaine Maxwell, forced her in the 1990s to have sex with Andrew, Queen Elizabeth II’s son — an allegation Andrew has repeatedly denied.

Virginia Giuffre with Prince Andrew and Ghislaine Maxwell at Prince Andrew's home in London in a photo released with court documents.
Virginia Giuffre with Prince Andrew and Ghislaine Maxwell at Prince Andrew's home in London in a photo released with court documents.

Giuffre, who is referred to in the unsealed settlement by her maiden name, Roberts, agreed to “remise, release, acquit, satisfy and forever discharge the said second parties and any other person or entity who could have been included as a potential defendant ... from all, and all manner of, action and actions of Virginia Roberts, including state or federal, cause and causes of action.”

Andrews’ lawyers have contended that the prince is a “third-party beneficiary of the release agreement” even though he is not mentioned by name in the settlement.

A representative for Giuffre’s lawyer David Boies released a statement Monday saying “the release is irrelevant to Ms. Giuffre’s claim against Prince Andrew.”

“He did not even know about it,” the representative said of the settlement. “He could not have been a ‘potential defendant’ in the settled case against Jeffrey Epstein both because he was not subject to jurisdiction in Florida and because the Florida case involved federal claims to which he was not a part.”

Although Andrew’s name is not mentioned, Section 21 of Giuffre’s complaint against Epstein says the powerful Epstein friends who “sexually exploited” her included “royalty.”

Giuffre, who is seeking unspecified damages, claims Andrew sexually assaulted her three times when she was 17.

Virginia Giuffre, an alleged victim of Jeffrey Epstein, center, exits from federal court in New York on Aug. 27, 2019.
Virginia Giuffre, who says she was a victim of Jeffrey Epstein, center, leaves federal court in New York on Aug. 27, 2019.Jeenah Moon / Bloomberg via Getty Images file

Oral arguments in Giuffre’s lawsuit are set to get underway Tuesday, four days after Maxwell was convicted of recruiting and grooming four teenage girls for Epstein to sexually abuse.

Giuffre was not one of the four women in the case against Maxwell, and there were no allegations against Andrew as part of that case.

The U.S. district judge in that case, Alison Nathan, has given Maxwell’s defense attorneys and the prosecutors a deadline of Jan. 10 to submit sentencing proposals and recommendations. A trial date has not yet been set for the two perjury counts that were not part of her sex trafficking trial. They were part of the original indictment when Maxwell was arrested in July 2020.

Prosecutors have accused Maxwell of lying under oath in 2016 when she was being deposed for a civil lawsuit filed by Giuffre.

U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan earlier turned aside the defense argument that it was pointless to proceed because Giuffre has lived in Australia for all but two of the past 19 years, has an Australian driver’s license and lives in a $1.9 million home in Perth in Western Australia, where she has been raising three children with her husband, who is Australian.

Giuffre’s attorney Sigrid McCawley said the request to halt the case was “just another in a series of tired attempts by Prince Andrew to duck and dodge the legal merits of the case Virginia Giuffre has brought against him,” adding, “All parties in litigation are subject to discovery, and Prince Andrew is no exception.”

Prince Andrew, Duke of York, attends the Sunday Service at the Royal Chapel of All Saints, Windsor on April 11, 2021 in Windsor, England.
Prince Andrew attends services at the Royal Chapel of All Saints in Windsor, England, on April 11.Steve Parsons / WPA Pool/Getty Images file

Kaplan noted in a one-page order that the prince’s lawyers have requested that Giuffre turn over “extensive” materials by Jan. 14, including documents related to where she has lived.

Kaplan also said the prince’s attorneys have not yet formally raised the defense that the lawsuit cannot proceed on the grounds that Giuffre has been living in Australia rather than Colorado, where her lawyers say she is a resident.

Andrew’s lawyers have accused Giuffre of launching a “baseless lawsuit against Prince Andrew to achieve another payday at his expense and at the expense of those closest to him.”

“Epstein’s abuse of Giuffre does not justify her public campaign against Prince Andrew,” the prince’s lawyers have said in written arguments.

Epstein hanged himself in a federal jail in New York City in August 2019 as he awaited trial on sex trafficking charges.