US judge rejects Prince Andrew's motion to block Virginia Giuffre’s lawsuit

Prince Andrew in Norfolk in 2020. Photograph: Lindsey Parnaby/AFP/Getty Images

Two of Prince Andrew's attempts to halt or halt the progress of Virginia Roberts Giuffre's sex assault lawsuit against him were thwarted on Saturday when a US federal judge ordered the prince's lawyers to turn over critical legal documents, increasing the pressure to settle claims ahead of a crucial court hearing this week.

In a written order, Judge Lewis A Kaplan directed the prince's attorneys to turn over papers on the schedule established in the complaint filed by Guiffre, who claims she was assaulted many times by the prince in 2001 while being sexually abused by tycoon Jeffrey Epstein.

Kaplan also rejected arguments made by the prince's lawyer, Andrew Brettler, about jurisdiction after arguing last week that the lawsuit should be dismissed since Giuffre, a US citizen, no longer resides in the United States. Brettler has described the case as "frivolous."

The prince's lawyers contended that the evidence establishing Giuffre's absence from the United States was so overwhelming that it was meaningless to exchange evidence until that issue was settled since it could result in the lawsuit being dismissed.

They said that Giuffre has resided in Australia for all but two of the last 19 years, holds an Australian driver's license, and resides in a $1.9 million (£1.4 million) mansion in Perth, Western Australia, with her husband, an Australian native.

Giuffre's attorney, Sigrid McCawley, said in a statement that the plea to halt the case was "just another tired attempt by Prince Andrew to duck and dodge the legal merits of the case Virginia Giuffre has brought against him." Like all other parties in litigation, Prince Andrew is subject to discovery."

In a written order on Friday, Judge Kaplan noted that the prince's lawyers had requested that Giuffre turns over "extensive" materials by 14 January, including documents relating to her previous residences.

The orders came ahead of a critical case hearing in New York on Tuesday, one day after the expected public release on Monday of a 2009 settlement agreement between Epstein and Giuffre, which Andrew's lawyers hoped would shield him from Guiffre's allegations.

The developments come on the heels of reports that Giuffre's lawyers believe they have up to six witnesses linking the duke to his accuser on the eve of a civil complaint filed by the 38-year-old accusing Prince Andrew of sexual assault.

Separately, Andrew's lawyers are said to have failed to offer documentary evidence of his "inability to sweat," despite the assertion backing his denial of having intercourse with Giuffre.

Additionally, the duke is claimed to have failed to provide any witnesses to corroborate his alibi. He was in Pizza Express in Woking on the night he was accused of having sex with Giuffre in 2001.

The developments exacerbate Andrew's predicament, as he confronts enormous pressure about his association with Ghislaine Maxwell.

Maxwell, 60, was found guilty last Thursday of soliciting and trafficking young girls for Epstein's sexual abuse.

The verdict, which does not influence the Giuffre civil action, may boost public pressure for additional prosecutions and encourage men in Epstein and Maxwell's sphere to settle civil suits brought against them.

"As to whether Prince Andrew is more at risk now that the civil suit is stronger, there may be some pressure on the court because the public wants to know why the users of these young girls were not prosecuted," former sex crimes prosecutor Wendy Murphy told the Observer.

"The public wants a pound of flesh from rapists – not just pimps – but the civil suit is all about money, and once the appropriate amount is paid, the case will be dismissed, assuming it survives the jurisdictional hurdles," Murphy noted.

However, the duke was not identified during the Maxwell trial. His attorneys are anticipated to seize on testimony from crucial witness "Carolyn," who stated that Giuffre introduced her to Epstein and Maxwell.

Separately, Giuffre may be permitted to make a victim impact statement during Maxwell's sentence. On Saturday, Giuffre's lawyer, Sigrid McCawley, told the Telegraph that she thinks the court to hear from "many, many other women who were not able to testify at the trial."

Simultaneously, US prosecutors have made no indication since Maxwell's conviction that they intend to pursue additional charges against other members of Epstein's crew or alleged victims of the Epstein-Maxwell sex trafficking ring. Rather than that, they have indicated that they intend to close the chapter.

Prosecutors dropped charges against two prison officers who did not check on Epstein the night he committed suicide last week. Lawyers for Epstein's former personal assistant Lesley Groff, who was named in the 2007 non-prosecution agreement, have stated that they have been advised that no criminal charges will be filed against their client.

On Saturday, it was revealed that David Boies, Giuffre's attorney, advised Maxwell to "cut a deal," implying that she could have become a state witness in a broader inquiry into Epstein's exclusive social circle.

"She could have cut an excellent deal early on," Boies told the Times. That, I believe, has been demonstrated to be a deadly error."

Giuffre's legal team has requested further documents in preparation for a possible extension of the hearing, including proof of his infamous Newsnight interview assertion that he cannot sweat.

Giuffre alleged that the prince was "sweating profusely all over me" during a night she believes they had sex in a London bar. The duke told Newsnight that her claim could not be valid "because I have a peculiar medical condiparticulart prevents me from sweating or from sweating at the time."

He further stated that on the day in issue, he took his daughter Beatrice to a children's party at Pizza Express in the late afternoon and spent the remainder of the night at home with his children.

As pressure rises on the duke, he may be betting on one of three outcomes: that the Giuffre case is dismissed due to jurisdictional or other issues, that it is denied on its merits, or that he will never pay the price if a judgment is entered against him.

"International proceedings are rife with political ramifications. They may be couched in legalese, but when dealing with international issues, they are always political," Murphy explains. "You can say I have a judgment and I want it enforced, but a foreign country can say that's lovely but we have no intention of doing anything about it for political reasons. Why would we do that?"

Publish : 2022-01-02 09:50:00

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