Prince Andrew to face civil sex case after US judge rules trial can go ahead

12 January 2022, 14:25 | Updated: 13 January 2022, 13:27

Prince Andrew has failed to get a lawsuit against him thrown out
Prince Andrew has failed to get a lawsuit against him thrown out. Picture: Alamy/Rex Shutterstock

By Will Taylor

Prince Andrew's bid to have a sex assault lawsuit against him thrown out has failed, meaning the royal will face a civil sex case.

He is accused by Virginia Giuffre of having sex with her when she was a minor under US law, after she was trafficked by Jeffrey Epstein.

The royal, who denies all allegations against him, had hoped to have her lawsuit thrown out in light of a 2009 agreement between Ms Giuffre and Epstein, who took his own life in prison.

That $500,000 settlement said Ms Giuffre had agreed to "release, acquit, satisfy, and forever discharge" Epstein and "any other person or entity who could have been included as a potential defendant".

Prince Andrew was pictured in Windsor
Prince Andrew was pictured in Windsor. Picture: Getty

Lawyers for Andrew had tried to get a judge to dismiss the case - but instead he has allowed it to proceed, meaning the duke faces a civil trial. Those proceedings are different to a criminal trial.

Buckingham Palace declined to comment, saying: "We would not comment on what is an ongoing legal matter."

Judge Lewis Kaplan said the agreement between Epstein and Ms Giuffre "cannot be said" to benefit the royal.

He said in a ruling: "The 2009 Agreement cannot be said to demonstrate, clearly and unambiguously, the parties intended the instrument 'directly,' 'primarily,' or 'substantially,' to benefit Prince Andrew.

"The existence of the requisite intent to benefit him, or others comparable to him, is an issue of fact that could not properly be decided on this motion even if defendant fell within the releasing language, which itself is ambiguous.

"Thus, independent of whether the release language applies to Prince Andrew, the agreement, at a minimum, is 'reasonably susceptible to more than one interpretation' on the equally important question of whether this defendant may invoke it."

Speaking at a remote hearing to dismiss the case on January 4, Andrew Brettler, for Prince Andrew, said the Duke of York "could have been sued" by Ms Giuffre previously.

He also told Judge Lewis Kaplan that "Prince Andrew should not be dragged into this court 20 years after" the allegations are claimed to have happened, adding that "witnesses die, witnesses may be incarcerated".

Read more: Prince Andrew accuser's $500,000 deal with Jeffrey Epstein made public

Simon Marks reports after Prince Andrew hearing concludes

He branded the lawsuit as "unfair… unjust" and claimed Ms Giuffre "doesn't articulate" what allegedly happened to her.

"We don't know what the conduct was," Mr Brettler told the judge, who replied: "Involuntary sexual intercourse. There's no doubt what that means."

Mr Brettler argued the lawsuit "absolutely be dismissed".

Read more: Prince Andrew 'could be asked to drop Duke of York title' if he loses sex abuse lawsuit

Ms Giuffre's lawyer, David Boies, told the judge that Andrew would not have been a "potential defendant", as described in the 2009 settlement.

"The only claim that is asserted that was made in Florida in the 2009 action that covered Prince Andrew was the third count, which was to transport somebody for the purpose of illegal sexual activity," he argued.

"There is no allegation that Prince Andrew was the person transporting.

"There is no allegation that Prince Andrew fell into the category of people who were doing the trafficking.

"He was somebody to whom the girls were trafficked."

Mr Boies said the duke would not be subject to the court's jurisdiction in the 2009 agreement, and would not be classed as a potential defendant – meaning he would not be covered by the settlement.

He told the judge the complaint "makes clear with respect to the sexual intercourse and the sexual touching".

And Judge Kaplan, having revealed on Wednesday that the case could proceed, said: "Ms (Virginia) Giuffre's complaint is neither 'unintelligible' nor 'vague' nor 'ambiguous'.

"It alleges discrete incidents of sexual abuse in particular circumstances at three identifiable locations. It identifies to whom it attributes that sexual abuse.

"Defendant nevertheless holds out that he cannot reasonably prepare a response because plaintiff has not described 'what purported sexual contact occurred... when and where the incident occurred, or the forcible compulsion she was under due to express or implied threat' to the degree of specificity he would like.

"While he understandably seeks more detail about the precise details of plaintiff's claims, he will be able to obtain that detail during pretrial discovery.

"Moreover, defendant's assertion that he cannot reasonably prepare a response to plaintiff's allegations plainly contradicts the content of his moving papers, in which he denies Ms Giuffre's allegations in no uncertain terms."

Andrew could yet push for an out-of-court settlement with Ms Giuffre. Reports say she does not want to go down that route, and instead wishes to send a message showing powerful people facing justice.

It follows the fallout from Ghislaine Maxwell's trial, saw two jurors claim they were sexually abused after the case.

The revelations threw into question the jury selection process for the case, which saw her convicted of sex trafficking.

Maxwell and Andrew were friends and she introduced the royal to Epstein.

Her lawyers are thought to be readying to push for a mistrial.

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Former US president Donald Trump sits in Manhattan Criminal Court in New York

Defence rests without Donald Trump entering witness box in hush money trial

Tiny Toes nursery in Stockport

Second worker from nursery where nine-month-old baby was killed is charged with neglect

The two relatives of the hostages appealed for the Israeli government to push for a ceasefire.

Relatives of hostages held by Hamas after October 7 attacks urge Israeli government to reach ceasefire

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky shakes hands with German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock in Kyiv, Ukraine

Germany’s foreign minister says air defences for Ukraine an ‘absolute priority’

Donald Trump's hush money trial defence rests without ex-President testifying - despite claiming he wanted to take stand

Donald Trump's hush money trial defence rests without ex-President testifying - despite claiming he wanted to take stand

Spain’s embassy in the Palermo neighbourhood of Buenos Aires, Argentina

Spain withdraws ambassador to Argentina over comments made by President Milei

'Genuinely dangerous to be Jewish' near London's pro-Palestinian marches, Michael Gove says

'Genuinely dangerous to be Jewish' near London's pro-Palestinian marches, Michael Gove says

Relatives of victims pose with the Infected Blood Inquiry final report as they gather outside Westminster

Infected blood victims to receive £210,000 payment within weeks, paymaster general confirms

The granddaughter of Elvis Presley is fighting plans to publicly auction his Graceland estate in Memphis

Elvis Presley’s granddaughter fights company’s attempt to sell Graceland estate

Elon Musk

Tesla shareholders ask investors to vote against Musk’s compensation package

Mourners gather around a truck carrying coffins of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and his companions who were killed in a helicopter crash

Mourners begin days of funerals for Iran’s president killed in helicopter crash

British pensioner, 73, dead after 'heart attack' when London-Singapore flight plummeted during severe turbulence

British pensioner, 73, dead after 'heart attack' when London-Singapore flight plummeted during severe turbulence

England's Euro 2024 squad has been revealed in full

Rashford and Henderson to miss out on Euro 2024 as England squad unveiled by Gareth Southgate

One passenger died and several people were injured after the flight experience severe turbulence

'The plane just dropped': Passengers tell of terror as flight plunges in ‘severe turbulence’ leaving one dead

Angeline Mahal, aged in her 50s, was attacked in her Hornchurch home.

Woman mauled to death by her 2 XL Bully dogs pictured - as it emerges her family ‘begged to get rid of them’

Syria’s first lady Asma Assad, second left, with her husband Syrian President Bashar Assad

Syrian President Bashar Assad’s wife, Asma Assad, diagnosed with leukaemia