Prince Andrew’s attempt to have sex case thrown out could ‘not have gone worse’, experts claim

‘I’m optimistic that Virginia will get her day in court’

Prince Andrew's lawyers attempted to have to get Ms Giuffre’s rape lawsuit against him in the US thrown out

Prince Andrew’s lawyers attempted to have to get Ms Giuffre’s rape lawsuit against him in the US thrown out

Neil Fetherstonhaugh

Prince Andrew’s attempts to have the civil sex assault case taken against him thrown out of a US court “could not have gone worse” it has been reported. 

His accuser, Virginia Roberts, now known as Virginia Giuffre, is suing the prince, claiming he sexually assaulted her – when she was 17 and a minor in some US states.

The duke denies the allegations.

Andrew’s lawyer was seeking to persuade the court that his accuser had waived her right to sue him when she signed an earlier £370,000 ($500,000) legal settlement with paedophile Jeffrey Epstein, the duke’s friend.

The 2009 settlement agreement, revealed that now-dead financier Epstein paid Ms Giuffre $500,000 to end a claim for damages – and she agreed not to bring any future cases against other “potential defendants”.

It does not mention Prince Andrew, now 61, by name, and his lawyers argue the deal means Ms Giuffre, now 38, cannot sue him. Her lawyers contest that.

Judge Lewis Kaplan used Tuesday’s hearing to closely question lawyers for both sides as to whether the Epstein-Giuffre damages settlement could be used at all by Prince Andrew to stop the case.

But one legal expert said that the hearing “could not have gone worse” for the Queen’s son after Judge Kaplan put his legal team through a bruising encounter, pointing out that his were reduced to saying they “respectfully disagree” with the judge.

This did not bode well as “respectfully disagreeing with the judge” means you are about to lose,” it was added.

Miss Roberts, 38, one of the billionaire sex offender’s most high-profile victims, claims she was trafficked by him and girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell to have sex with Andrew on three occasions when she was 17.

The 61-year-old prince vehemently denies the claims and says he has no recollection of even meeting her.

Judge Kaplan appeared mostly dismissive of the arguments by the duke’s lawyer, Andrew Brettler.

He said that part of the 2009 settlement protecting “other potential defendants” that Andrew’s lawyers had appeared to be leaning on was “unclear” and pointed to two sentences in the text that seemed to suggest it could not be used by Andrew.

Judge Kaplan also pointed to language in the agreement stating it is “not intended to be used by any other person” to protect themselves from lawsuits without the agreement of Miss Roberts and Epstein – again suggesting Andrew could not rely on it.

Judge Kaplan told the two sides: “I appreciate the arguments and the passion. You’ll have the decision pretty soon.”

But he directed that the exchange of potential evidence in the case was to proceed as scheduled – which was seen as an indication he would likely rule against Andrew’s motion.

Sources close to the proceedings yesterday described them as “brutal” for Andrew. During the hour-long hearing, held via video conference due to Covid, Judge Kaplan interjected several times in Mr Brettler’s arguments.

According to the Mail, the judge told him once: “With all due respect, Mr Brettler, that’s not a dog that’s going to hunt here” and another time asked the lawyer outright: “So what?”

Mitchell Epner, a former federal prosecutor who now works as counsel for law firm Rottenberg Lipman Rich told The Times: “From Andrew’s point of view it could not have gone worse.

“Judge Kaplan made it very clear that he did not accept the arguments that Prince Andrew’s counsel was making with regard to the settlement agreement.

“There were a number of times where Andrew’s counsel was reduced to saying, ‘Well, I respectfully disagree.’ In the courtroom, respectfully disagreeing with the judge means you are about to lose.”

Lisa Bloom, a US trial lawyer who previously advised rapist Harvey Weinstein and has been following proceedings tweeted: “Andrew wants her case thrown out on technical grounds. Judge Kaplan aggressively questioned defense on this and appeared unwilling to do it.

‘I’m optimistic that Virginia will get her day in court.”

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