The Duke of York “cannot hide behind wealth and palace walls” and has to respond to allegations of sexual assault filed in a US civil case. Those are the words of David Boies, the lawyer for Virginia Giuffre, who has accused Prince Andrew of sexually assaulting her when she was 17. The duke has consistently denied the allegations, with a spokeswoman saying there would be no comment on the civil case.
“In this country no person, whether president or prince, is above the law, and no person, no matter how powerless or vulnerable, can be deprived of the law’s protection,” the civil case documents read. The documents also accuse the duke and his representatives of having rejected requests to provide “whatever facts, context or explanation he might have, and to explore alternative dispute resolution approaches”.
Boies has said that Giuffre – who was an accuser of convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein – now only has recourse in the courts and that she wants to be compensated for the damage she alleges was done to her and donate that money to charities helping victims of sex trafficking.
Prince Andrew said during a BBC interview in 2019 that he had “no recollection” of ever meeting Giuffre and that there were “a number of things that are wrong” about her account. In a later statement, he said: “I continue to unequivocally regret my ill-judged association with Jeffrey Epstein. His suicide has left many unanswered questions, particularly for his victims, and I deeply sympathise with everyone who has been affected and wants some form of closure [...] Of course I am willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations, if required.”
Late last year, a lawyer for a number of Epstein’s alleged victims – Lisa Bloom – said that it was “outrageous” that there had been no movement on that front and urged the duke to come forward and be interviewed by the FBI as part of their investigations.
Prince Andrew is currently at Balmoral with the Queen. The lack of a statement – so far – over the civil case gives the impression that he is happy to sit “behind palace walls”. Being at Balmoral also provides him a level of privacy.
The civil case will proceed whether Andrew and his legal team engage with it or not. Extradition is not a prospect the duke faces, however, given that only applies to criminal charges and not civil cases.
Prince Andrew may believe he has said all he needs to say about the allegations – his denials making his position clear – but Boies has said that people “ignore the courts at your peril” and that “it would be very ill-advised for Prince Andrew to ignore judicial process” given that could mean a default judgement being granted against him.
In that context, would it not make sense for the duke to take the opportunity to state his denials for the record in court? If he does not, the court of public opinion will certainly pass judgement on him.
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