A judge in the United States on Wednesday rejected Prince Andrew's bid to dismiss a federal lawsuit brought by a woman who alleged that he sexually abused her when she was 17 years old.
U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan for the Southern District of New York ruled that it was premature to consider the prince’s efforts to cast doubt on Virginia Giuffre’s accusations, though he would be allowed to do so at a trial.
Andrew’s lawyers tried earlier this month to block the lawsuit brought by Giuffre, one of Jeffrey Epstein’s most prominent accusers, and released details of a legal settlement in which she took $500,000 from Epstein not to bring further legal action.
NBC News has reached out to a representative for Andrew for comment. Buckingham Palace has declined to comment on the decision.
David Boies, one of Giuffre's lawyers, applauded the judge's decision.
"Ms. Giuffre is, of course, pleased that Prince Andrew's motion to avoid a trial has been denied, and that the evidence will now be taken concerning her claims," Boies said. "She looks forward to a judicial determination of the merits of those claims."
Sarah Krissoff, a former federal prosecutor in the Southern District of New York who has led investigations in sex trafficking and crimes against children, said Prince Andrew might want to consider reaching a settlement with Giuffre.
"Given Judge Kaplan’s denial of the motion to dismiss and with case now moving into the discovery phase, it would be prudent for Prince Andrew’s team to reconsider and explore the possibility of a settlement," Krissoff said in an email to NBC News. "Otherwise, this case is most likely heading towards a very public trial. It is unlikely that Prince Andrew wants that to happen."
Giuffre, now living in Australia, accuses Epstein and his recently convicted confidant, the British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, of forcing her in the 1990s to have sex with Andrew, Queen Elizabeth II’s son — an allegation the prince has repeatedly denied.
In a 2019 interview with the BBC, Andrew, the Duke of York, said he has “no recollection” of ever having met Giuffre. He also suggested that a photograph of them together with Maxwell could have been doctored.
The suit alleges that Andrew abused her at three locations — in London and New York and at Epstein’s private island in the U.S. Virgin Islands, when she was under age 18. It mirrors claims that Giuffre, now 38, has previously detailed to NBC’s “Dateline.”
Rachel Elbaum reported from London, Corky Siemaszko from New York.