Prince Andrew claims unsealed agreement protects him in sex-abuse suit

January 3, 2022
Prince Andrew at the Royal Chapel of All Saints at Royal Lodge on the Windsor Castle estate, on April 11, 2021, a few days after his father, Prince Philip, died.
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A woman who alleges Jeffrey Epstein sex-trafficked her to Prince Andrew accepted a $500,000 settlement from Epstein in 2009 and agreed she wouldn’t sue him or any other “potential defendant,” according to a court document unsealed Monday. 

The Duke of York’s lawyers say the agreement between accuser Virginia Roberts Giuffre and Epstein should bar Giuffre from suing Andrew now. 

A federal judge in New York is expected to hear arguments on Andrew’s motion to dismiss the case at a virtual hearing Tuesday.

Giuffre’s lead lawyer, David Boies, said the 2009 settlement is “irrelevant” to the lawsuit against Andrew because it doesn’t mention the prince by name. He said in a statement Monday that Giuffre’s team sought to have the settlement made public to refute Andrew’s argument that it absolved him of liability by implication.

“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,” Boies said in the statement. “The actual parties to the release have made clear that Prince Andrew was not covered by it.”

Andrew’s lawyers sought to have the 2009 agreement released after Giuffre filed suit against the prince last summer. The agreement arose out of Giuffre’s lawsuit in Florida in which she alleged Epstein hired her as a teenager to service Epstein sexually at his estate in Palm Beach.

Andrew’s lead American lawyer, Andrew Brettler of Los Angeles, declined to comment on the record. But he has argued in court documents that the agreement should release Andrew “from any purported liability.”

Giuffre, 38, an American originally from Florida, accuses Andrew, 61, of rape and sexual assault in her lawsuit. She alleges Andrew’s former friend Epstein sex-trafficked her at age 17 to the prince at Epstein’s Manhattan home in 2001 and that the prince knew she was trafficked at the time.

The prince has vehemently denied Giuffre’s accusations since she began making them publicly in January 2015.  Andrew’s legal team has attacked Giuffre’s lawsuit on multiple grounds, arguing the claims are false and that her lawsuit is aimed at achieving “another payday at his expense.”

“Epstein’s abuse of Giuffre does not justify her public campaign against Prince Andrew,” Brettler said in a court document. 

Lawyers for Queen Elizabeth II’s second son also say Giuffre’s lawsuit should be dismissed because she has been a resident of Australia for all but two of the last 19 years and thus the court has no jurisdiction. The prince’s legal team argues that Giuffre has an Australian driver’s license and lives in a $1.9 million home in Perth, Western Australia, with her three children and her Australian husband, according to court documents. 

They also argue that 17  is the age of consent in New York, and thus Giuffre can’t cite the New York Child Victims Act in her lawsuit. 

So far, Andrew’s attempts to get the lawsuit thrown out immediately have been denied by U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan in Manhattan. He has set a potential trial date for the case sometime in the last quarter of 2022, depending on the coronavirus pandemic.

The Tuesday hearing in the case comes in the wake of last week’s conviction of Epstein’s former girlfriend, Ghislaine Maxwell, also a longtime friend of Andrew’s, who was found guilty of five of six federal counts, including sex trafficking and conspiracy, after a month-long trial in Manhattan. 

Epstein, the wealthy financier who was the original target of the federal investigation of alleged sex trafficking, was arrested in July 2019. He was found dead a month later in his Manhattan jail cell from an apparent suicide, according to federal authorities.  

Technically, Maxwell’s criminal conviction would play no role in a civil lawsuit but it was not good news for Andrew’s case and further damaged his standing in the United Kingdom.

In 2019, when he participated in a disastrous BBC interview about Giuffre, Andrew claimed he had no memory of ever meeting her, despite a photo of them together posted widely on the internet. Since then he’s been effectively canceled as a senior royal, forced to step away from public duties and charitable associations. Being linked to two convicted sex offenders does not help.

Giuffre was not called to testify at Maxwell’s trial, despite her high public profile as an accuser of Epstein and Maxwell, whom she successfully sued for defamation. So far, none of her allegations against Andrew or others she’s accused has been resolved publicly in a criminal or civil court, and the multiple Epstein-related lawsuits she’s filed and settled have been sealed.

Giuffre’s name came up at Maxwell’s trial multiple times, including when a witness called “Carolyn” testified that it was Giuffre who introduced her to Epstein at his Florida home to give him sexual massages. She said Giuffre, then known as Virginia Roberts, had sex with Epstein in front of her, and each girl got $100 afterward.

Andrew’s name came up as someone who was seen in Epstein’s and Maxwell’s company. But there was no evidence presented at Maxwell’s trial that he was allegedly involved in wrongdoing

After Giuffre filed her lawsuit, Andrew sought to argue that he was not properly served with the papers at his Windsor home, but Kaplan ruled against him on that issue. 

Giuffre’s lawyers, meanwhile, have demanded that Andrew provide medical documents proving his “alleged medical inability to sweat,” a reference to Andrew’s claim in the BBC interview that for many years he could not sweat, countering Giuffre’s claim he was sweating profusely before she says she was compelled to have sex with him in London. 

Contributing: The Associated Press

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