A U.S. judge on Wednesday rejected a bid by Britain’s Prince Andrew to dismiss a lawsuit by Virginia Giuffre accusing Andrew of sexually abusing her when she was a teenager.
The following is a summary of the lawsuit and what it means for Andrew:
WHAT ARE GIUFFRE’S CLAIMS AGAINST ANDREW?
Giuffre, also known as Virginia Roberts, sued the Duke of York in New York in 2021, claiming that he sexually assaulted and battered her.
Giuffre said Andrew forced her to have intercourse at the London home of Ghislaine Maxwell, a British socialite and Epstein’s longtime associate, and at properties owned by Epstein.
Epstein, a teacher-turned-globetrotting financier, died by suicide in a Manhattan jail cell in 2019 at the age of 66 while awaiting trial on sex abuse charges. Maxwell, 60, was convicted on Dec. 29, 2021, of sex trafficking and other crimes.
HOW HAS ANDREW RESPONDED?
Andrew’s lawyers have called the lawsuit “baseless” and accused Giuffre of seeking a payday. They argued that Giuffre signed away her right to sue the prince in a 2009 settlement with Epstein, and on Jan. 4 urged U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan to dismiss the lawsuit for that reason.
Kaplan on Wednesday rejected that argument, ruling that Giuffre could pursue her claims against the prince.
Andrew, 61, told the BBC in November 2019 that he could not have had sex with Giuffre at Maxwell’s home because he had returned to his house that night after a children’s party.
WHY DOES GIUFFRE’S SETTLEMENT WITH EPSTEIN MATTER?
The settlement agreement said “any other person or entity who could have been included as a potential defendant from all, and all manner of, action and actions of Virginia Roberts” was released from liability.
David Boies, a lawyer for Giuffre, earlier this month called the liability release in the 2009 settlement “irrelevant” to the case against Andrew.
WHY DID JUDGE KAPLAN ALLOW THE SUIT TO CONTINUE?
Kaplan said it was too soon to decide whether Giuffre and Epstein – a convicted sex offender – intended for the 2009 settlement to release Andrew.
He also said it was premature to consider the prince’s efforts to cast doubt on Giuffre’s claims, though he would be able to do so at a trial.
WHAT IS THE STATUS OF THE LAWSUIT?
The litigation is at an early stage. Kaplan’s decision kept the case on track for a potential trial that could start between September and December 2022.
COULD THE LAWSUIT HARM ANDREW LEGALLY OR HIS REPUTATION?
If the case goes to trial and Giuffre wins, Andrew could be ordered to pay Giuffre damages. She has asked for an unspecified amount.
The prince’s reputation had already taken a hit when Giuffre’s allegations first surfaced. Critics said he failed to address key questions during a November 2019 interview with the BBC, and Andrew stepped down from public duties days after the interview aired.
COULD THE LAWSUIT LEAD TO CRIMINAL JEOPARDY FOR ANDREW?
No. Andrew has not been charged criminally, and no criminal charges could result from Giuffre’s lawsuit since it is a civil case.
Andrew repeatedly declined requests by federal prosecutors in the United States for an interview about their probe into Epstein’s sex trafficking, former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman said in June 2020.
A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office declined to comment on Wednesday. It was not clear if prosecutors still want to talk to Andrew.
IS GIUFFRE’S LAWSUIT RELATED TO MAXWELL’S CONVICTION?
No. Giuffre did not testify in Maxwell’s criminal trial, and her allegations did not form the basis of any of the six sex abuse counts against Maxwell.
DOES ANDREW’S ROYAL STATUS HAVE ANY IMPACT ON THE CASE?
Diplomats are often entitled to a certain degree of legal immunity in the countries in which they are posted. Heads of state – such as Andrew’s mother, Queen Elizabeth – are entitled to a degree of immunity as well.
Andrew does not appear to fit either category, said Craig Barker, a law professor at London South Bank University.
“There’s nothing I can see in the law that would suggest that he would have any entitlement to immunity whatsoever, whether that be in civil or indeed in criminal matters,” Barker said.
Editing by Noeleen Walder, Grant McCool and Jonathan Oatis
Photo – Prince Andrew . EPA-EFE/NEIL HALL