Prince Andrew’s effort to immediately block the progression of a sexual abuse lawsuit by Virginia Giuffre, a woman who says he sexually assaulted her when she was 17 — on the grounds that she no longer lives in the U.S. — was rejected by a federal judge as oral arguments were set to proceed Monday on the prince’s request to dismiss the lawsuit.
Two of Prince Andrew’s efforts to prevent or stall the progression of Virginia Roberts Giuffre’s sex assault lawsuit against him were blocked on Saturday when a US federal judge ordered the prince’s lawyers to turn over key legal documents, increasing pressure to settle claims before a crucial court hearing this week.
Judge Lewis A Kaplan, in a written order, told the prince’s lawyers they must turn over documents on the schedule that has been set in the lawsuit brought by Guiffre who claims she was abused – aged 17 – by the prince on multiple occasions in 2001 while she was being sexually abused by financier Jeffrey Epstein.
The order was filed three days before the scheduled public release Monday of a 2009 settlement agreement between Epstein and Giuffre. Lawyers for Andrew say that the agreement protects the prince from claims like those brought by Giuffre and will be sufficient grounds for the lawsuit’s dismissal
Kaplan also rejected arguments by the prince’s lawyer, Andrew Brettler, on jurisdiction grounds after they argued last week that the lawsuit should be dismissed because Giuffre, a US citizen, no longer lives in the US. Brettler has called the lawsuit “baseless”.
The prince’s lawyers claimed evidence was so strong that Giuffre does not reside in the US that it was pointless to exchange evidence until that question is resolved because it could result in the lawsuit’s dismissal.
They argued that Giuffre has lived in Australia for all but two of the past 19 years, has an Australian driver’s licence and lives in a $1.9m (£1.4m) home in Perth, Western Australia, where she and her husband, an Australian national, live with their three children.
In a statement, Giuffre’s attorney, Sigrid McCawley, called the request to halt the case “just another in a series of tired attempts by Prince Andrew to duck and dodge the legal merits of the case Virginia Giuffre has brought against him. All parties in litigation are subject to discovery and Prince Andrew is no exception.”
Judge Kaplan, in a written order on Friday, noted the prince’s lawyers have requested that “extensive” materials be turned over by Giuffre by 14 January, including documents related to where she has lived.
The rulings come before an important case hearing in New York on Tuesday, one day after the scheduled public release on Monday of a 2009 settlement agreement between Epstein and Giuffre that lawyers for Andrew had hoped would protect him from Guiffre’s claims.
The developments follow revelations that Giuffre’s lawyers are reportedly claiming they have up to six witnesses linking the duke to his accuser on the eve of the hearing into a civil lawsuit filed by the 38-year-old, in which she accuses Prince Andrew of sexual assault.
“As to whether Prince Andrew is in greater jeopardy in terms of the civil suit now being stronger there could be some pressure on the court because the public wants to know why the users of these young girls were not held accountable,” former sex crimes prosecutor Wendy Murphy told the Observer.
“The public wants a pound of flesh from the rapists – not just the pimps – but the civil suit is all about money and when the right numbers are paid the case will go away, assuming it survives the jurisdictional challenges,” Murphy added.
Oral arguments via a video teleconference on the prince’s request to dismiss the case are scheduled for Monday morning.
In October, the prince’s lawyers attacked the lawsuit on multiple grounds, saying Giuffre had made false claims against Andrew because he “never sexually abused or assaulted” her.