Prince Andrew’s lawyers have come under withering questioning from a judge deciding whether Virginia Giuffre’s sexual abuse lawsuit should be allowed to proceed to trial.
Ms Giuffre’s civil lawsuit alleges that she was forced to have sex with Jeffrey Epstein’s friends when she was 17, including the Duke of York.
Prince Andrew, 61, has strongly denied the allegations, and claims Ms Giuffre is after a “payday at his expense”.
Lawyers for both parties argued during the hearing on Tuesday over whether a $500,000 settlement deal reached between Epstein and Ms Giuffre in 2009 – which was unsealed on Monday – should absolve Prince Andrew of liability.
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Andrew was not named in the lawsuit, which provided a release for “any other person or entity who could have been included as a potential defendant”.
Judge Lewis Kaplan interrogated the prince’s lawyer Andrew Brettler about whether he could be shielded from prosecution, asking: “What is a ‘potential defendant’ as distinguished from a ‘defendant’?”
Mr Brettler responded: “Prince Andrew could have been sued but was not. Ms Giuffre intended to release royalty.”
The judge quipped back: “Including the Sultan of Brunei?”
“If there are allegations against him,” Mr Brettler said.
Mr Brettler continued that the allegations in the suit were vague, and failed to specify when and where the alleged abuse took place.
“We don’t even have a date, a time, a location, and even an apartment,” the attorney said.
“Before Prince Andrew must answer, he should be told specifically what all the allegations are.”
Judge Kaplan disagreed, firing back: “That dog is not going to hunt. She has no obligation to do that in the complaint, only in discovery.”
Mr Brettler went on to say the prince’s alleged misconduct had not been laid out in the complaint.
Judge Kaplan responded emphatically with a reference to an unnamed former US president: “Involuntary sexual intercourse. There’s no doubt what that means, at least since someone else was in the White House.”
For Ms Giuffre, attorney David Boise said the 2009 agreement should not apply to Prince Andrew as it covered separate allegations.
“There’s no allegation that Prince Andrew was the trafficker. He was a person to whom the girls were trafficked,” Mr Boise said.
Judge Kaplan ended the remote hearing soon afterwards, and promised a ruling would be imminent.
“You’ll have a decision pretty soon,” he said.
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