US Court to Conduct Pre-Trial Hearing in Prince Andrew Sex Assault Claim Amid Legal Wrangling
Virginia Roberts Giuffre is suing Prince Andrew for allegedly raping and abusing her when she was a minor. She claims she was trafficked out to the British royal by his late friend, convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein. The Queen’s son has vehemently denied all the claims, saying that he has “no recollection” of ever meeting the woman.
A US District Court in New York is to hold a pre-trial conference today in the civil suit filed by a woman alleging she was trafficked out by the late pedophile Jeffrey Epstein to have sex with Prince Andrew when she was a minor under US law, according to The Guardian.
Lawyers representing the accuser, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, and the British royal’s defence team are currently locked in a dispute over whether the Duke of York was properly served with documents in the case. According to Giuffre's lawyers, the documents were handed over to a Metropolitan Police officer who was on duty at the main gates of the Queen’s son’s residence in Windsor Great Park on 27 August.
However, law firm Blackfords, which ostensibly represents the Duke of York “in certain UK matters”, has raised questions regarding whether the papers were properly served. Furthermore, according to a letter referenced in court documents filed by Giuffre's lawyers and dated September 6, there is an indication that they may challenge the court's jurisdiction in the case.
“We reiterate that our client reserves all his rights, including to contest the jurisdiction of the US courts (including on the basis of potentially defective service),” the cited letter reportedly states.
According to Virginia Roberts Giuffre’s lawyer, David Boies, the disgraced royal could not have been unaware of the civil lawsuit.
“Attorneys at Blackfords, who he has apparently instructed to evade and contest service, have confirmed that Prince Andrew himself already has notice of this lawsuit and is evaluating his chances of success,” Boies stated in court documents.
He added that any other conclusion “would be implausible”, bearing in mind the fact that am plethora of articles have been written about the lawsuit in media outlets around the world. The suit, filed last month, alleges that Prince Andrew “raped and committed sexual assault and battery” against Roberts Giuffre, now 38.
© AP Photo / Bebeto MatthewsIn this Aug. 27, 2019, photo, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who says she was trafficked by sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, holds a news conference outside a Manhattan court where sexual assault claimants invited by a judge addressed a hearing following Epstein's jailhouse death in New York
In this Aug. 27, 2019, photo, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who says she was trafficked by sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, holds a news conference outside a Manhattan court where sexual assault claimants invited by a judge addressed a hearing following Epstein's jailhouse death in New York
© AP Photo / Bebeto Matthews
Boies suggested Monday’s pre-trial conference would not result in any substantive decision, however, the hearing would possibly clarify subsequent proceedings. A decision on whether efforts to serve Prince Andrew with documents naming him as a defendant in the rape case had been sufficient or not will be made by Judge Lewis Kaplan of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York.
Earlier reports in UK media suggested that Prince Andrew has formed a "dream team" of high-powered US lawyers and was "confident" that the sexual assault charges against him would be dismissed.
“The Prince's UK team has slowly but surely been putting together a team of highly-skilled, big-name lawyers to fight on his behalf in the US. People will be surprised by the names of those who will be defending him… There is a great deal of confidence among everyone, Andrew included, that the civil suit will be thrown out before it ever comes to court,” a source was cited as saying by the Daily Mail.
It was also suggested that the royal’s legal team would not be present at the Monday hearing. “The other side are very good at garnering headlines but ultimately it comes down to the law. The Prince's legal team has no intention of validating this frivolous suit by attending Monday's hearing. They are confident they can get Virginia's suit dismissed,” the source was cited as saying by the outlet.
However, the accuser’s lawyers reportedly believe they will manage to convince the judge that the papers were successfully served on the royal. Following that, the Duke of York’s legal team will either have to respond within 21 days or face having a default judgment made against their client, writes the publication.
Alleged Sex Trafficking Victim
According to Virginia Roberts Giuffre, she and the prince had sex on at least three occasions. The first was reportedly at the London home of British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, Jeffrey Epstein's former girlfriend, currently in jail, charged with grooming and sex trafficking girls for the financier.
© Photo : Florida Southern District CourtPrince Andrew, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, and Ghislaine Maxwell. This photo was included in an affidavit in which Giuffre alleged that she was directed to have sex with Andrew
Prince Andrew, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, and Ghislaine Maxwell. This photo was included in an affidavit in which Giuffre alleged that she was directed to have sex with Andrew
© Photo : Florida Southern District Court
The other occasions were purportedly at Epstein’s NYC mansion and on the financier’s private Caribbean island. Prince Andrew has tried to keep a low profile since November 2019, when he sat down for what has been dubbed a “car crash” BBC interview to defend his friendship with the late tycoon Jeffrey Epstein.
© AP Photo / John MinchilloJeffrey Epstein Associate
Jeffrey Epstein Associate
© AP Photo / John Minchillo
The royal denied Virginia Roberts Giuffre’s claims during the interview, saying that he had “no recollection” of ever meeting the woman and suggesting that an existing photo showing the two of them together might have been “doctored”.
Prince Andrew’s apparent lack of remorse for consorting with a convicted sex offender had generated strong backlash, prompting the Queen’s son to soon thereafter permanently resign from all his public roles. Jeffrey Epstein died in a New York jail cell in 2019 after being charged with multiple child sex offences. His death was officially ruled a suicide.