Prince Andrew Hopes to Dodge Public Sex Assault Trial as Court to Unseal Secret Epstein-Giuffre Deal
05:45 GMT 03.01.2022 (Updated: 06:09 GMT 03.01.2022)
Prince Andrew’s legal team insists that the 2009 Epstein-Giuffre agreement could shield him from the civil sexual abuse lawsuit filed by the alleged abuse victim, who claims she was trafficked out to engage in intimate relations with the royal against her will when she was a minor under US laws.
Prince Andrew’s struggle to have the sex abuse civil lawsuit filed against him by an alleged Jeffrey Epstein victim thrown out continues, as a New York court on Monday unseals a confidential 2009 deal between the late tycoon and Virginia Giuffre (nee Roberts).
The defence team of the Duke of York believe the agreement the accuser struck with the convicted pedophile could shield him from a public trial.
In December, judges had ordered the unsealing of the settlement by 3 January unless there was "good cause" for it to remain secret. Epstein's estate had earlier agreed to let the Duke of York review the agreement, but court approval was required.
Prince Andrew’s lawyer, Andrew Brettler, has claimed the deal provided “a general release of all claims against him and numerous other individuals and entities”.
“Because Prince Andrew is a senior member of the British royal family, he falls into one of the expressly identified categories of persons, i.e., royalty, released from liability under the Release Agreement, along with politicians, academicians, businessmen, and others allegedly associated with Epstein,” the lawyer Andrew B. wrote in a memo on 29 October.
He insisted that the Queen’s son was “axiomatically among the releasees”.
Virginia Giuffre, currently 38, filed a civil lawsuit against the Duke of York in September, alleging she was trafficked out by Jeffrey Epstein to have sex with the Queen’s son on three occasions when she was 17, and a minor according to US law. The first time was purportedly at the London townhouse of Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein's former lover and associate.
“Sophisticated predator” Maxwell was convicted in a New York courtroom on 29 December of recruiting and grooming underage girls, some as young as 14, for sexual encounters with the disgraced financier between 1994 and 2004. She was found guilty on five out of six charges and faces up to 65 years in jail.
The second time, in early 2001, was supposedly at Epstein's New York mansion, and the third time was on the tycoon's private island in the Caribbean. Giuffre is seeking unspecified damages.
Epstein, a former friend of the Duke of York, was convicted of sex offences in 2008 and died in a Manhattan prison in 2019 while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.
© 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
Prince Andrew has to date denied all allegations against him. The Duke told the BBC in an 2019 interview that he had “no recollection of ever meeting this lady, none whatsoever”.
The 2009 deal that is to be unsealed pertains to a Florida court filing made by Virginia Giuffre in relation to an Epstein case which did not involve Prince Andrew.
Epstein and his lawyers, including Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, who crafted that 2009 settlement deal, were possibly seeking to protect close associates of the hedge fund manager in the pages of his “little black book’”, according to a report published in Forbes.
After the unsealing of the deal, lawyers for Prince Andrew are reportedly set to argue to Judge Lewis A. Kaplan, at the US district court in Manhattan, that the agreement between Giuffre and Epstein absolves their client from liability. They have accused Giuffre for using the “baseless lawsuit against Prince Andrew to achieve another payday at his expense”. They have also claimed that the royal’s “sullied reputation” is fallout from the Epstein scandal.
Lawyers for Giuffre have been dismissing the attempt to use the 2009 settlement deal by the Duke of York’s legal team as yet another “in a series of tired attempts by Prince Andrew to duck and dodge the legal merits of the case”.
Giuffre’s lawyer, David Boies, insisted the clause in the settlement applied "at most" to people involved in underlying litigation in Florida and Prince Andrew should not use it as a "get out of jail free card".
The unsealing of the deal comes ahead of a 4 January hearing in New York where lawyers for the British royal are expected to argue for a dismissal of Virginia Giuffre’s lawsuit, reported The Guardian
In a recent setback for the royal, Judge Lewis A Kaplan rejected a motion by the royal’s attorneys to have the lawsuit dismissed on jurisdictional grounds as Giuffre no longer lives in the US. The defence, led by Andrew Brettler, argued that Virginia Giuffre has lived in Australia for all but two of the past 19 years.
Meanwhile, Giuffre's lawyers are said to have been preparing to file evidence demands, including requesting that Prince Andrew provide medical proof that he is unable to sweat - a claim he made in his “car crash” Newsnight BBC interview in 2019.