Judge says Prince Andrew will learn if civil sex case against him can go ahead 'soon'

4 January 2022, 08:02 | Updated: 4 January 2022, 19:26

Virginia Roberts is suing Andrew for alleged sexual assault when she was a teenager
Virginia Roberts is suing Andrew for alleged sexual assault when she was a teenager. Picture: Alamy

By Asher McShane

Prince Andrew will today find out if a judge will decide to have the civil sex case against him thrown out of court.

It comes after details emerged of a secret $500,000 deal that his accuser Virginia Roberts signed with Jeffrey Epstein agreeing not to take legal action against some of his associates.

The Duke of York's team say the agreement between her and Epstein, published for the first time yesterday, exempts him from legal action.

Roberts is suing Andrew for alleged sexual assault when she was a teenager, but the duke's legal team will make their argument to dismiss the case at a hearing later today.

Read more: Prince Andrew: Key week for royal as accuser's document to be unsealed and made public

Judge Lewis A Kaplan, who is presiding over the civil case, held a video teleconference a day after a 12-page document was made public revealing the terms of a $500,000 payout from convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein to Ms Giuffre.

A verdict is due "pretty soon" but no further timeline was set by the judge after the hearing.

The document detailed Ms Giuffre had in 2009 agreed to "release, acquit, satisfy, and forever discharge" Epstein and "any other person or entity who could have been included as a potential defendant".

The settlement relates to a Florida state case to which the duke was not a party.

On Tuesday, Andrew Brettler, for Prince Andrew, argued that "potential defendant" meant "someone who was not named as a defendant but could have been", and that it would be somebody who Ms Giuffre knew she had "claims against at the time that she filed the lawsuit".

Mr Brettler said the Duke of York "could have been sued" previously by Ms Giuffre.

Describing the lawsuit as "unfair, it is unjust", Mr Brettler said that "Prince Andrew should not be dragged into this court 20 years after" the allegations are claimed to have taken place.

"Witnesses die, witnesses may be incarcerated," he said.

The judge dismissed the idea that Ms Giuffre needed to allege "today" what her complaint was.

Mr Brettler told Judge Lewis Kaplan: "We don't know what the conduct was."

But the judge replied: "Involuntary sexual intercourse. There's no doubt what that means."

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

"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 told the judge.

"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 also claimed the duke was not subject to the court's jurisdiction in the 2009 settlement, which meant he could not be classed as a potential defendant and therefore he was not one of those covered by the agreement.

Ms Giuffre is seeking unspecified damages, but there is speculation the sum could be in the millions of dollars.

She claims she was trafficked by disgraced financier Epstein to have sex with Andrew when she was aged 17 and a minor under US law.

Andrew has denied all the allegations.

Judge Kaplan last week denied a motion from Andrew's lawyers to halt the civil proceedings while the issue of where Ms Giuffre lives is dealt with.

Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein's former girlfriend and Andrew's friend, faces the rest of her life in jail after she was convicted last month of helping to procure teenage girls for the disgraced financier to sexually abuse.