A US-based lawyer for Britain’s Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, yesterday forcefully rejected claims in a civil lawsuit by a woman who accused the Duke of sexually assaulting her when she was 17.
t a hearing in the US District Court in Manhattan, the Duke’s lawyer Andrew Brettler also said the plaintiff, Virginia Giuffre, appeared to have signed away her right to sue Queen Elizabeth’s second son in 2009 by resolving a separate lawsuit.
Ms Giuffre, 38, has said the abuse occurred about two decades ago, around the time financier Jeffrey Epstein was sexually abusing her.
“This is a baseless, nonviable, potentially unlawful lawsuit,” Mr Brettler said at a court conference conducted by phone.
“There has been a settlement agreement that the plaintiff has entered into in a prior action that releases the Duke and others from any and all potential liability.”
Mr Brettler also said Ms Giuffre had not properly served the Duke under UK law and the Hague Convention, including when a process server left a copy on August 27 with a police officer guarding Royal Lodge, the Duke’s home in Windsor, England.
Ms Giuffre’s lawyer rejected that claim. “We have properly served him,” David Boies told US District Judge Lewis Kaplan in Manhattan.
Judge Kaplan directed Mr Boies to propose alternative means to serve the Duke, and rejected Mr Bretter’s argument that Hague Convention procedures had to be “exhausted” before applying US procedures. The next conference was scheduled for October 13.
The Duke, 61, is a former friend of Epstein, a registered sex offender who killed himself in a Manhattan jail in August 2019 after US prosecutors charged him with sexually exploiting dozens of girls and women.
The Duke stepped down from royal duties and saw charities and other organizations distance themselves from him after he gave a November 2019 BBC interview now widely seen as disastrous concerning his relationship with Epstein.
Ms Giuffre’s lawsuit puts him in a tough position because he could be held in default and owe damages if he ignores it, or face years of legal battles by defending himself in court.
According to the August 9 complaint, the Duke forced Ms Giuffre to have unwanted sexual intercourse at the London home of Ghislaine Maxwell, the British socialite and Epstein’s longtime associate.
The complaint also said the Duke abused Ms Giuffre at Epstein’s mansion on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, and on a private island Epstein owned in the US Virgin Islands.
In a September 6 letter, a London-based lawyer for the Duke suggested that Ms Giuffre’s lawsuit might be dismissed because she signed a release in 2009 in a separate Florida case covering “claims against persons associated with Jeffrey Epstein.”
The lawyer, Gary Bloxsome said the Duke’s lawyers needed to review the release and determine its scope.
“Until we have made that determination, it is difficult for us to give advice as to whether the Duke should voluntarily accept service,” he wrote.
Maxwell has pleaded not guilty to charges she aided Epstein’s sexual abuses. She faces trial in November 29.