Prince Andrew faces deadline TODAY to respond to sex assault lawsuit filed in New York by Jeffrey Epstein victim Virginia Roberts – or risk a default judgment
The Duke of York was last month served with court papers by Roberts who claims Andrew sexually abused her on multiple occasions in 2001 when she was 17.
Roberts alleges she was told by notorious financier and pedophile Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell to have sex with Andrew at Epstein’s mansion in New York and other locations. The prince has always denied the allegations.
The clock is ticking for Andrew, who must respond to the claims in her lawsuit by today or he will face a default judgment. There is a further hearing at a court in Manhattan due to be held on November 3.
The prince’s California-based lawyer Andrew Brettler is intending to file a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, according to a letter filed earlier this week.
During a hearing of the case last month, Brettler said the lawsuit was ‘baseless, non-viable and potentially unlawful’.
Yesterday, Andrew broke cover at Windsor in the UK as a judge backed Brettler’s request for a 2009 settlement agreement between Epstein and Roberts to remain secret.
New York US District Judge Lewis A Kaplan made the ruling on Wednesday in a brief order after Brettler asked that the document remain sealed as the legal team fight to get Roberts’s lawsuit thrown out.
Prince Andrew (pictured yesterday at Windsor castle) is facing a deadline today to file a response to a lawsuit filed against him in New York by his sex abuse accuser Virginia Roberts
The Duke of York was last month served with court papers by Virginia Roberts (pictured) who claims Andrew sexually abused her on multiple occasions in 2001 when she was 17
Roberts alleges she was told by notorious financier and pedophile Jeffrey Epstein (pictured) and Ghislaine Maxwell to have sex with Andrew at Epstein’s mansion in New York and other locations. The prince has always denied the allegations
The royal’s attorney, Andrew Brettler believes a legal agreement reached between Epstein and Giuffre in 2009 absolves Andrew of all responsibility in the lawsuit he described as ‘baseless’
In her lawsuit, Roberts claimed she was trafficked to London as a 17-year-old by Epstein and forced to have sex with the Prince at Ghislaine Maxwell’s house.
She also alleged that Andrew knew she was a victim of sex trafficking by Epstein, and also knew she was a minor under US law.
Brettler said neither the prince nor Roberts contend that the release agreement must remain sealed, but they requested that it stay secret because it is subject to a protective order from another judge presiding over a federal civil action in New York.
The settlement agreement was reached between Giuffre and Jeffrey Epstein, who was found dead at age 66 in his cell in 2019 while awaiting a sex trafficking trial at a New York federal jail. His death was ruled a suicide.
Brettler said the agreement ‘releases Prince Andrew and others from any purported liability arising from the claims Ms. Giuffre asserted against Prince Andrew here’, and officially made the request to keep the agreement sealed to the Manhattan federal court on Wednesday.
But Roberts’s attorneys argue that the Andrew’s attempt to rely on the previous settlement agreement with Epstein to get the case dismissed will fail.
Miss Roberts’s lawyers have indicated they will fight the move by the prince’s team, saying there is ‘no evidence’ he was ever intended to be covered by the previous legal agreement.
‘There is no evidence from any of the parties to the release, or Prince Andrew, that the release was ever intended to include Prince Andrew, and we believe the evidence will be that it wasn’t,’ wrote Roberts’s lawyer, David Boies, in a court filing.
This picture, dated 2001, shows Andrew (left) with his arm around the bare midriff of a 17-year-old Giuffre (center), while Ghislaine Maxwell (right) grins in the background
It comes after Roberts’s lawyers said last month the Prince had officially been served with the lawsuit, but his legal team disputed this.
The issue of whether or not Andrew had been notified about the case – known as service of proceedings – was contested during the first pre-trial hearing of the civil case last month in New York.
But after it was confirmed the papers were served on 21 September, Andrew has until today to provide a response.
Ms Giuffre has accused Andrew of abusing her at Epstein’s Manhattan mansion as well as his private Caribbean island, and at the London home of his madam Ghislaine Maxwell, who is currently in a New York jail awaiting sex abuse and grooming charges.
Roberts is suing the price for the alleged sexual abuse and is seeking unspecified damages.
This comes after British police announced earlier this month that they have dropped their probe into the prince after conducting a review prompted by Giuffre’s claims.
Andrew has repeatedly denied that he has sex with Roberts or ever met her despite a photo of the two together: ‘I have no recollection of ever meeting this lady, none whatsoever’
The Metropolitan Police had previously examined the allegations made by Giuffre against Andrew but did not open a full investigation, saying the case was a matter for the US authorities.
The police also said no action would result from allegations that Epstein’s alleged accomplice, Ghislaine Maxwell, trafficked, groomed and abused women and girls in the UK.
Maxwell, a British socialite and Epstein’s onetime girlfriend, goes to trial in November in New York on sex trafficking charges. She has pleaded not guilty.
In a Newsnight interview with the BBC’s Emily Maitlis in November 2019, Andrew denied claims that he slept with Ms Giuffre on three separate occasions and said: ‘I can absolutely categorically tell you it never happened.
‘I have no recollection of ever meeting this lady, none whatsoever.’
The duke also said he has no memory of a well-known photograph of him with his arm around Roberts’s waist and has questioned whether it was his own hand in the image.
The fallout from the interview saw the royal criticized for showing a lack of empathy towards Epstein’s victims and a lack of remorse over his friendship with disgraced financier.
A hearing in the Prince Andrew lawsuit is scheduled for next week.
Judge Kaplan has ruled, with the agreement of both parties, that all disclosures and depositions should be completed before July next year.
The commemorations will last throughout the year and will see senior royals – except Andrew – travel around the country and overseas.
Judge Kaplan intends to draw a line under any amendments to the New York proceedings by December 15.
All disclosures relating to expert witnesses should be made by June 13 with the disclosure process complete a month later.
One US legal expert described the scheduling order as ‘brisk’.