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US judge will ‘pretty soon’ rule on Prince Andrew case

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Prince Andrew’s accuser agreed not to sue ‘other potential defendants’ related to Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged sex crimes. AFP

US judge will ‘pretty soon’ rule on Prince Andrew case

A New York judge will decide “pretty soon” whether to dismiss a sexual assault lawsuit against Prince Andrew after the royal’s lawyers argued on January 4 that he was protected by a settlement that his accuser signed in 2009.

Attorney Andrew Brettler told a court hearing Virginia Giuffre had “waived her rights” to sue other defendants in relation to alleged sex crimes committed by late disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein.

Judge Lewis Kaplan did not make an immediate ruling but appeared to express skepticism at Andrew’s argument, questioning how a third party could enforce an agreement that it didn’t know about when it was signed.

“You’ll have a decision pretty soon, but I’m not going to define that further,” Kaplan said at the end of an hour of oral arguments.

The hearing in the civil action filed by Giuffre – also a longtime accuser of Epstein’s companion, the convicted sex trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell – were held via video conference with the public able to listen in by telephone.

Giuffre alleges that Epstein lent her out for sex with his wealthy and powerful associates, including to Andrew, an allegation that Queen Elizabeth II’s second son has repeatedly and strenuously denied.

The deal made public for the first time on January 3 by a New York court showed that Giuffre agreed to drop a civil claim against Epstein for $500,000.

The settlement contained a provision that purports to protect “other potential defendants” from being sued related to alleged sexual abuse committed by Epstein, who killed himself in jail in 2019.

Brettler described it as “unambiguous” and argued that it protected the prince from litigation.

“Miss Giuffre intended to release a broad category of individuals, including royalty, including businessmen,” Brettler said.

“She waived her rights to sue them when she entered into the 2009 release agreement and accepted the money from Mr Epstein.”

But the judge said that neither he nor Brettler could “find any meaning at all” in the word “potential”.

Giuffre sued the prince for unspecified damages last year, alleging he sexually assaulted her in 2001 when she was 17 and a minor under American law.

She says Andrew assaulted her at Epstein’s home in New York, and on Epstein’s private island in the US Virgin Islands.

Giuffre’s lawyer David Boies argued that the Epstein-Giuffre agreement was unrelated to Andrew because it was signed in Florida.

“Prince Andrew was not subject to jurisdiction,” he told judge Kaplan.

Pace University law professor Bennett Gershman said he expected Kaplan to reject Andrew’s stance.

“Are they saying everybody in the world is now free because of the settlement? It’s a tough sell,” he said.

Giuffre alleges Andrew also sexually abused her at the London home of Maxwell, who last week was found guilty of sex trafficking minors for Epstein.

Andrew, 61, has not been criminally charged.

Maxwell, who introduced Andrew to Epstein in the early 1990s, faces life behind bars after being convicted by New York jurors on five counts.

Epstein died aged 66 in a Manhattan jail in what New York’s coroner ruled was a suicide, after being charged with child sex trafficking.

Andrew has rarely been seen in public since he was forced to quit the royal frontline in 2019 for failing to distance himself from Epstein.


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