A judge in a US court will hear arguments by the legal representatives of Duke of York Prince Andrew to have the sexual assault civil lawsuit brought against him dismissed without trial in a crucial New York hearing. Virginia Roberts Giuffre, 38, has sued Prince Andrew for alleged sexual assault that she claims happened when she, at the age of 17, had been trafficked by the disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein.
The legal team of Prince Andrew will today argue before Judge Lewis Kaplan that the case is baseless and should be thrown out.
The hearing, by video conference, comes a day after a previously confidential 12-page document was made public disclosing the terms of a $ 500,000 settlement agreement in 2009 by Epstein to Giuffre.
The prince’s lawyers are expected to argue that the agreement means Giuffre has relinquished all rights to sue anyone connected to Epstein who could be described as a “potential defendant”.
The settlement, which relates to a Florida state case to which Prince Andrew was not a party, states Giuffre agreed to “release, acquit, satisfy, and forever discharge” Epstein and “any other person or entity” who could have been included as a potential defendant.
Though the document does not mention Prince Andrew by name, his legal counsel Andrew B Brettler has said that the settlement should end the lawsuit. Brettler previously told the New York court that the agreement “releases Prince Andrew and others from any purported liability arising from the claims Ms Giuffre asserted against Prince Andrew here”.
However, Giuffre’s lawyer, David Boies, argued the settlement was “irrelevant to the case against Prince Andrew”.
Giuffre is seeking unspecified damages claiming she was trafficked by Epstein to have sex with Andrew when she was 17 and a minor under US law. The prince has denied all the allegations.
His legal team have described Giuffre’s claims as “baseless” and alleged she is seeking a “payday” at the royal’s expense.
Kaplan last week denied a motion from Andrew’s lawyers to halt the civil proceedings while the issue of where Giuffre lives is dealt with.
The crunch hearing comes one week after Prince Andrew’s former friend Ghislaine Maxwell, 60, a girlfriend of Epstein at one point, was convicted of charges relating to recruiting and trafficking teenage girls for Epstein to sexually abuse. Lawyers for Maxwell, who faces a lengthy prison sentence, plan to appeal.
It is not known if Kaplan will decide whether to dismiss Giuffre’s lawsuit today or announce it at a subsequent date.
Lawyers for Giuffre have requested documents as part of her litigation, such as proof of Andrew’s claim that he cannot sweat. Giuffre has claimed the duke was “sweating profusely all over me” at a London discotheque on a night when she alleges they had sex. Andrew said in his Newsnight interview the allegation could not be true “because I have a peculiar medical condition which is that I don’t sweat or I didn’t sweat at the time”.
Prince Andrew maintains that on the day cited by Giuffre, he took his daughter Beatrice to a late-afternoon children’s party at a Pizza Express restaurant in Woking, Surrey. After that, he said, he was at home with his children all night.