Prince Andrew is set to face a civil trial in New York as his motion to dismiss Virginia Giuffre’s sexual assault case was thrown out by a judge on Wednesday.
The British royal’s legal team sought to have the case dismissed on the basis it was “legally insufficient,” largely due to a settlement she signed in 2009 with his friend, the convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, which he claimed released him from any liability.
A judge threw out that claim on Wednesday.
“The 2009 Agreement cannot be said to demonstrate, clearly and unambiguously, that the parties intended the instrument ‘directly,’ ‘primarily,’ or ‘substantially’ to benefit Prince Andrew,” Judge Lewis A. Kaplan wrote in his 46-page reasoning. “As a matter of Florida law, this Court cannot rewrite the 2009 Agreement to give the defendants rights where the agreement does not clearly manifest an intent to create them.”
That means Queen Elizabeth II’s second son, who is ninth in line to the throne, will be forced to fight Giuffre’s claims of sexual assault in a New York courtroom.
Giuffre alleges that Prince Andrew sexually assaulted her when she was 17. She is suing for battery and “intentional infliction of emotional distress.” Giuffre has long claimed she was the victim of a sex trafficking ring presided over by Epstein in which the now-deceased financier passed her and other victims around powerful friends and acquaintances between 1999 and 2007.
As the case is a civil matter, however, there is no suggestion that, at this stage, he could face any jail time, unlike his close friend Ghislaine Maxwell, who was recently convicted on charges of sex trafficking linked to Epstein’s activities.
Among her allegations, Giuffre has maintained that Prince Andrew abused her at Epstein’s Manhattan mansion as well as on Epstein’s private island and forced her to have sex against her will at Maxwell’s London home. A photograph, taken by Epstein, of Prince Andrew at the house with his arm around a youthful Giuffre with Maxwell lurking in the background was obtained by British tabloid the Mail on Sunday and has since been widely circulated. In a 2019 Newsnight interview with Emily Maitlis, Prince Andrew has said he has no recollection of the photograph being taken and has suggested it may have been doctored.
The judge’s refusal to dismiss Giuffre’s case will now be the cause of much consternation (if not sweating) for Prince Andrew, who has categorically denied the allegations.
The news that Prince Andrew is set to face a civil trial comes just days after Buckingham Palace announced a plethora of celebrations in honor of the Queen’s jubilee, which marks 70 years on the throne. It is now almost inconceivable that the Prince, who has effectively been banished from public life by the British royal famile, will be present at any of them, including the Trooping of the Color parade in which the Queen traditionally appears on Buckingham Palace’s balcony alongside her family