Prince Andrew’s bid to block the continuation of a lawsuit by a woman who says he sexually assaulted her when she was 17 – on the grounds that she no longer lives in the US – has been rejected by a judge.
Federal judge Lewis A Kaplan told the Duke of York’s lawyers in a written order that they must hand over documents on the schedule that has been set in the suit bought by Virginia Giuffre.
Ms Giuffre alleges she was abused by the prince multiple times in 2001, while she was being sexually assaulted by financier Jeffrey Epstein.
Image: Ms Giuffre has brought a US lawsuit against the Duke of York. Pic: Shutterstock
Prince Andrew has denied the allegations and his attorney, Andrew Brettler, has labelled the lawsuit “baseless”.
The written order was filed three days before the release of details of a 2009 settlement agreement between Epstein and Ms Giuffre.
Lawyers for the Duke of York say that agreement protects Prince Andrew from claims such as those brought by Ms Giuffre and argue it will provide sufficient grounds for her lawsuit to be dismissed.
They had argued that the evidence was so strong that Ms Giuffre does not live in the US that it was pointless exchanging evidence until that question had been addressed.
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The lawyers argued that Ms Giuffre has lived in Australia for all but two of the past 19 years, holds an Australian driving licence and lives in Perth with her Australian husband and three children.
But Ms Giuffre’s attorney Sigrid McCawley said in a statement that the request was “just another in a series of tired attempts by Prince Andrew to duck and dodge the legal merits of the case Virginia Giuffre has brought against him. All parties in litigation are subject to discovery and Prince Andrew is no exception”.
In his one-page order Judge Kaplan noted that Prince Andrew’s lawyers have asked that “extensive” materials be handed over by Ms Giuffre by 14 January, including documents concerning where she has lived.
He also said that the Duke of York’s team have yet to formally raise the defence that the lawsuit cannot continue on the grounds that Ms Giuffre has been living in Australia rather than the state of Colorado, where her lawyers say she is a resident.
The judge’s order expressed no opinion on the merits of the claim.
Oral arguments on Prince Andrew’s request to dismiss the case are set to be heard via a video teleconference on Monday morning.
Back in October, the duke’s lawyers attacked the lawsuit on multiple grounds, saying Ms Giuffre had made false claims against Prince Andrew because he “never sexually abused or assaulted” her.
“Giuffre has initiated this baseless lawsuit against Prince Andrew to achieve another payday at his expense and at the expense of those closest to him. Epstein’s abuse of Giuffre does not justify her public campaign against Prince Andrew,” the written arguments said.
Epstein killed himself in prison in 2019 as he awaited trial on sex trafficking charges.
Ghislaine Maxwell, his former girlfriend, was convicted earlier this week on charges including sex trafficking and conspiracy.
Source : Sky News