Prince Andrew accepts US service of sexual assault case lawsuit

Virginia Giuffre accuses the Duke of York of forcing her to have sex with him in her lawsuit

Zoe Tidman
Saturday 25 September 2021 18:25
<p>Prince Andrew has previously denied the accusations </p>

Prince Andrew has previously denied the accusations

Prince Andrew has accepted service in the US of a sexual assault lawsuit, which accuses the Duke of York of abusing a teenage woman.

Virginia Giuffre, his accuser, and the royal have agreed service was effected as of 21 September, according to a joint court filing.

Ms Giuffre has alleged in her lawsuit that the prince forced her to have sex with him when she was underage at the London home of Ghislaine Maxwell, a long-time associate of convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, two decades ago.

She also claims Prince Andrew abused her at around the same time at Epstein’s mansion in Manhattan and on the financier’s private island in the US Virgin Islands.

A filing with the US District Court in Manhattan on Friday showed the prince has accepted service.

Subject to court approval, the Duke – who has not been charged with crimes – would have until 29 October to formally respond to the lawsuit.

He has not waived his defences against Ms Giuffre’s claims and has previously strenuously denied the allegations.

The agreement appears for now to end a month-long effort by the prince’s legal team, including lawyers in the UK, to block Ms Giuffre’s lawsuit at the outset rather than have the 61-year-old prince defend himself against it.

Earlier this month, the prince’s lawyers argued the royal had not been properly served documents relating to the lawsuit.

Prince Andrew’s US-based lawyers declined to comment to Reuters, while Guiffre’s lawyers did not immediately respond to the agency’s requests for comment.

The prince’s lawyers are seeking to review a 2009 settlement agreement from a lawsuit against Epstein in Florida to determine whether it requires a dismissal of Ms Giuffre’s case.

The 38-year-old accuser is seeking unspecified damages.

Ms Giuffre claims that she was a “sex-trafficking victim” of Epstein, who killed himself in jail in 2019.

She has long accused the royal of sexually abusing her at Maxwell’s home in London and at properties owned by Epstein.

In a Newsnight interview in 2019, the prince denied ever having had sex with Ms Giuffre and said he had no recollection of ever meeting her.

Additional reporting by Reuters