Explainer-What we know about Virginia Giuffre's lawsuit against Britain's Prince Andrew

·5-min read
FILE PHOTO: Virginia Giuffre and lawyer David Boies arrive for a hearing in the criminal case against Jeffrey Epstein

By Luc Cohen

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Britain's Prince Andrew on Thursday had his military links and royal patronages removed, a day after a U.S. judge allowed a civil case brought by Virginia Giuffre accusing the prince of sexually abusing her when she was 17 to move forward.

The following is a summary of the lawsuit and what it means for Andrew:

WHAT ARE GIUFFRE'S CLAIMS AGAINST ANDREW?

Giuffre, also known as Virginia Roberts, sued https://www.reuters.com/legal/government/prince-andrew-is-sued-by-jeffrey-epstein-accuser-over-alleged-sexual-abuse-2021-08-09 the Duke of York in New York in 2021, claiming that he sexually assaulted and battered her.

Giuffre said Andrew forced her to have intercourse at the London home of Ghislaine Maxwell, a British socialite and Epstein's longtime associate, and at properties owned by Epstein.

Epstein, a teacher-turned-globetrotting financier, died by suicide in a Manhattan jail cell in 2019 at the age of 66 while awaiting trial on sex abuse charges. Maxwell, 60, was convicted https://www.reuters.com/world/us/maxwell-jury-resume-deliberations-after-judge-warns-omicron-risk-2021-12-29 on Dec. 29, 2021, of sex trafficking and other crimes.

HOW HAS ANDREW RESPONDED?

Andrew's lawyers have called the lawsuit "baseless https://www.reuters.com/world/uk/britains-prince-andrew-challenge-us-court-jurisdiction-accusers-lawsuit-2021-09-13" and accused Giuffre of seeking a payday. They argued that Giuffre signed away her right to sue the prince in a 2009 settlement with Epstein, and on Jan. 4 urged U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan to dismiss the lawsuit for that reason.

Andrew, 61, told https://www.reuters.com/article/us-britain-royals-andrew/prince-andrew-says-he-does-not-recall-meeting-epstein-accuser-idUSKBN1XP2CX the BBC in November 2019 that he could not have had sex with Giuffre at Maxwell's home because he had returned to his house that night after a children's party.

WHY DID JUDGE KAPLAN ALLOW THE SUIT TO CONTINUE?

Kaplan said https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/us-judge-rejects-prince-andrews-bid-dismiss-sex-abuse-accusers-lawsuit-2022-01-12 it was too soon to decide whether Giuffre and Epstein - a convicted sex offender - intended for the 2009 settlement to release Andrew.

He also said it was premature to consider the prince's efforts to cast doubt on Giuffre's claims, though he would be able to do so at a trial.

WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES OF THE LAWSUIT FOR ANDREW?

The allegations have done significant damage to the prince's reputation. On Thursday, Buckingham Palace said https://www.reuters.com/world/us/prince-andrews-legal-team-decline-comment-us-court-decision-2022-01-13 Andrew would no longer be known as "His Royal Highness" after losing his royal and military links, and said he was defending the Giuffre case as a private citizen.

Andrew had already stepped down from public duties days after a November 2019 interview with the BBC in which critics said https://www.reuters.com/article/us-britain-royals-andrew-duties/britains-prince-andrew-halts-public-duties-over-sex-scandal-idUSKBN1XU2CW he failed to address key questions about his ties to Epstein.

If the case goes to trial and Giuffre wins, Andrew could be ordered to pay Giuffre damages. She has asked for an unspecified amount.

COULD THE LAWSUIT LEAD TO CRIMINAL JEOPARDY FOR ANDREW?

No. Andrew has not been charged criminally, and no criminal charges could result from Giuffre's lawsuit since it is a civil case.

Andrew repeatedly declined requests by federal prosecutors in the United States for an interview about their probe into Epstein's sex trafficking, former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman said in June 2020.

A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's office declined to comment. It was not clear if prosecutors still want to talk to Andrew.

WHY DOES GIUFFRE'S SETTLEMENT WITH EPSTEIN MATTER?

The settlement agreement said "any other person or entity who could have been included as a potential defendant from all, and all manner of, action and actions of Virginia Roberts" was released from liability.

David Boies, a lawyer for Giuffre, earlier this month called the liability release in the 2009 settlement "irrelevant" to the case against Andrew.

WHAT IS THE STATUS OF THE LAWSUIT?

The litigation is at an early stage. Kaplan has said a potential trial https://www.reuters.com/world/us-judge-targets-late-2022-civil-trial-prince-andrew-sex-abuse-case-2021-11-03 could start between September and December 2022.

IS GIUFFRE'S LAWSUIT RELATED TO MAXWELL'S CONVICTION?

No. Giuffre did not testify in Maxwell's criminal trial, and her allegations did not form the basis of any of the six sex abuse counts against her.

DOES ANDREW'S POSITION AS A PRINCE AFFECT THE CASE?

Diplomats are often entitled to a certain degree of legal immunity in the countries in which they are posted. Heads of state - such as Andrew's mother, Queen Elizabeth II - are entitled to a degree of immunity as well.

Even before the removal on Thursday of his royal patronages and military links, Andrew did not appear to fit either category, according to Craig Barker, a law professor at London South Bank University.

"There's nothing I can see in the law that would suggest that he would have any entitlement to immunity whatsoever, whether that be in civil or indeed in criminal matters," Barker said.

(Reporting by Luc Cohen in New York; Editing by Noeleen Walder, Grant McCool and Daniel Wallis)

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