Prince Andrew’s legal team is fighting back in US sex assault case. Here’s what you need to know

Prince Andrew’s legal team is fighting back in US sex assault case. Here’s what you need to know
Florida Southern District Court

Prince Andrew faces a pre-trial conference in his sexual abuse case at a New York district court on Wednesday, as his legal team attempts to turn the tables on his accuser, Virginia Giuffre.

Giuffre alleges that she was forced to perform sex acts with the royal — claims Andrew denies. His attorneys are hoping the case is thrown out, having filed a motion to dismiss.

But they also appear to be attempting to shift the narrative, alleging in a blistering court filing that Giuffre’s claims are motivated by money. CNN has contacted Giuffre’s lawyers in relation to the fresh claims; in their initial filings for the case, her attorneys said Andrew had inflicted “emotional distress” on Giuffre that was “severe and lasting.”

“Giuffre has initiated this baseless lawsuit against Prince Andrew to achieve another payday at his expense,” Andrew’s lawyers wrote in the documents filed on October 29 — the clearest sign yet that they are planning to go on the offensive as they battle to save the reputation of the Queen’s third child.

What are Giuffre’s claims?

Giuffre, an alleged victim of convicted sex offender and disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein, says she was forced to perform sex acts with Andrew. She says she was trafficked by Epstein and forced to have sex with his friends — including the prince — at a time when she was underage (17) in the US.

Giuffre says the assaults happened in London, New York and the US Virgin Islands, that Andrew was aware she was a minor at the time, and that she had been trafficked by Epstein.

Andrew, 61, has consistently denied the claims, telling the BBC in 2019: “It didn’t happen. I can absolutely categorically tell you it never happened. I have no recollection of ever meeting this lady, none whatsoever.”

Where do things stand in the court case?

A key pre-trial conference in the civil case, filed by Giuffre at a district court in New York, is due to take place on Wednesday, the courthouse confirmed to CNN.

Filing the lawsuit in August, Giuffre’s lawyers said the damage from the alleged incidents was “severe and lasting.”

Andrew’s legal team had until last week to respond to the allegations. They asked for the lawsuit to be dismissed, saying it violates the terms of a confidential settlement agreement Giuffre made with Epstein in 2009.

That agreement, Andrew’s lawyers say, included a “general release” of all claims against Epstein and numerous other people, including Andrew. Details of the settlement were redacted from the court filing made by Andrew’s attorneys.

It is not their first attempt to have the lawsuit dismissed; in September they claimed the papers had not been properly served and that the case should be thrown out as a result.

Andrew has until July 14 next year to potentially answer questions about the case under oath, following a ruling made by Judge Lewis A. Kaplan last week. The scheduling order signed by the judge in New York means that if lawyers for Giuffre want to question Andrew, they must do so outside of court and submit the interview by that date.

Last month, London’s Metropolitan Police force announced it would take “no further action” against Prince Andrew, following an investigation sparked by Giuffre’s case.

What is Andrew’s legal defense?

Andrew’s attorneys will present their argument to the court on Wednesday, but their filings last week make clear that they are attempting to change the shape of the trial by turning the tables on Giuffre.

The documents acknowledge that Giuffre “may well be a victim of sexual abuse at the hands of Jeffrey Epstein … and nothing can excuse, nor fully capture, the abhorrence and gravity of Epstein’s monstrous behavior against Giuffre, if so.”

But the papers also seek to paint Giuffre as money-driven and accuse her of “willful recruitment and trafficking of young girls for sexual abuse.”

They allege that Giuffre “was trained to and did, in fact, recruit other young women into Epstein’s sex trafficking ring,” and has since “milked the publicity for all she could,” a dramatic escalation in the case that hints at an unsavory round of legal battles ahead.

Giuffre’s lawyer, David Boies, did not responded to CNN’s request for comment on the allegations in the court documents filed by Andrew’s lawyers.

In her lawyers’ initial filing, Giuffre said she feared disobeying Epstein, Maxwell and Prince Andrew “due to their powerful connections, wealth and authority.”

Boies said in a statement to the New York Times last week that Andrew’s attorney’s motion to dismiss “fails to confront the serious allegations” the prince faces.

“Most people could only dream of obtaining the sums of money that Giuffre has secured for herself over the years,” Andrew’s lawyers say in their October 29 document. “This presents a compelling motive for Giuffre to continue filing frivolous lawsuits against individuals such as Prince Andrew.”

Prince Andrew’s lawyers declined to comment when contacted by CNN.

Will Andrew have to face questions himself?

Andrew has previously been accused of not cooperating with attempts to interview him as part of the investigation into the alleged sex trafficking ring Epstein and Maxwell are alleged to have operated.

If Giuffre’s court case continues into the New Year and beyond, he will likely have to reckon with the mid-July deadline to answer questions under oath.

Until then, though, he is not scheduled to appear in court and is unlikely to speak to the media about the case.

The prince stepped back from public duties and has kept a relatively low public profile since a much-derided television interview with the BBC’s Newsnight program in November 2019.

In that broadcast, Andrew said he had taken his elder daughter, Princess Beatrice, to a party at a pizza restaurant on the night it is claimed he had sex with Giuffre. He also claimed that for many years he had been unable to sweat, countering allegations made by Giuffre that he was “sweating profusely” before they had sex when she was 17.

What does this mean for the royals?

The long-running allegations facing Andrew have dramatically tarnished his public standing. In their motion to dismiss the case, his lawyers acknowledge his “sullied reputation.”

Facing pressure from the public and the media in the wake of the Newsnight interview, the Prince stepped back from royal duties in late 2019.

Aside from the days following the death of his father, Prince Philip, earlier this year, he has barely appeared in public since. He was even absent from publicly-released photographs of Beatrice’s wedding last year.

The scandal has wider implications for the royal family, which has simultaneously been forced to weather criticism and a claim of racism from Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex over the past year. Buckingham Palace said the couple’s allegations of racism were”being taken very seriously,” while Harry’s brother, Prince William, told reporters: “We’re very much not a racist family.”

British tabloids often refer to the duke as the Queen’s favorite child, so his lengthy association with Epstein and Giuffre’s allegations against him signal a hefty fall from grace.

While the monarch and other senior royals have so far avoided damage to their own reputations as a result of the Giuffre case, the prospect of Andrew being forced to answer questions under oath will be an unwelcome one for the wider institution.

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

-advertisement-

Popular Stories

Concert Calendar

Featured Events