The Duke of York’s legal representatives pled their arguments before a US judge to have the sexual assault civil lawsuit brought against him dismissed without trial in a decisive New York hearing.
Prince Andrew, 61, is being sued by Virginia Roberts Giuffre, 38, for alleged sexual assault that she claims took place when she was aged 17 and had been trafficked by the disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein.
Andrew’s legal team argued on Tuesday before Judge Lewis Kaplan that the case is baseless and should be thrown out.
The hearing, by video teleconference, comes the day after a previously confidential 12-page document was made public disclosing the terms of a $500,000 settlement agreement in 2009 by Epstein to Giuffre.
U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan did not immediately rule at the end of a video conference, but he made clear that he was not leaning Andrew’s way as he rejected much of the reasoning offered by the prince’s attorney, Andrew Brettler, who said the case “should absolutely be dismissed.”
The prince’s lawyers argued the agreement means Giuffre has relinquished any rights to sue anyone connected to Epstein who could be described as a “potential defendant”.
The settlement, which relates to a Florida state case to which the prince was not a party, states Giuffre agreed to “release, acquit, satisfy, and forever discharge” Epstein and “any other person or entity” who could have been included as a potential defendant.
Though the document does not mention Andrew by name, Andrew B Brettler, who represents Andrew, has said the settlement should end the lawsuit. Brettler previously told the New York court that the agreement “releases Prince Andrew and others from any purported liability arising from the claims Ms Giuffre asserted against Prince Andrew here”.
However, Giuffre’s lawyer, David Boies, argued the settlement was “irrelevant to the case against Prince Andrew”.
When the hearing concluded, Kaplan promised a ruling soon and said he appreciated the “arguments and the passion.” The judge directed that the exchange of potential evidence in the case was to proceed as scheduled.
Giuffre is seeking unspecified damages claiming she was trafficked by Epstein to have sex with Andrew when she was 17 and a minor under US law. The prince has denied all the allegations.
Kaplan last week denied a motion from Andrew’s lawyers to halt the civil proceedings while the issue of where Giuffre lives is dealt with.
Epstein, 66, killed himself in a Manhattan jail cell in 2019 while awaiting a sex trafficking trial, while Maxwell, 60, was convicted last week of sex trafficking and conspiracy charges in federal court in New York. Giuffre’s allegations against Andrew were not a part of either criminal case.
The judge also appeared dismissive of other claims by Brettler, including one involving the constitutionality of New York’s decision to temporarily allow people sexually abused as children to file lawsuits past the usual deadline for legal action.
Prince Andrew has persistently denied Giuffre’s allegations.
Giuffre’s lawyers have requested documents proving Andrew’s claim that he cannot sweat. Giuffre has claimed the duke was “sweating profusely all over me” at a London discotheque on a night when she alleges they had sex. Andrew said in his Newsnight interview the allegation could not be true “because I have a peculiar medical condition which is that I don’t sweat or I didn’t sweat at the time”.
The prince also maintained that on the day cited by Giuffre he took his daughter Beatrice to a late-afternoon children’s party at a Pizza Express restaurant in Woking, Surrey. After that, he said, he was at home with his children all night.