Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Judge moves sexual assault trial against Prince Andrew

by Eric Levenson and Brian Vitagliano | CNN

A federal judge in New York on Wednesday rejected a motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Virginia Giuffre against Prince Andrew, a woman who alleges that the royal was sex trafficked when she was young .

“Ms. Giuffre’s complaint is neither ‘vague’ nor ‘vague’ nor ‘vague,'” Judge Lewis Kaplan wrote in his ruling. “It alleges discrete incidents of sexual abuse under particular circumstances at three identifiable locations. It recognizes to whom it attributes the sexual abuse. ,

Giuffre alleged in the lawsuit that the late financier Jeffrey Epstein smuggled her and forced her to have sex with his friends, including Prince, and that Andrew knew she was underage (17) in America at the time. She alleged that Prince sexually assaulted her at Epstein’s private island in the US Virgin Islands, his mansion in Manhattan and his ex-girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell’s home in London.

Prince Andrew has denied the allegations and has proceeded to dismiss the trial. CNN has reached out to its lawyers for further comment.

The ruling sets up a dramatic series of legal proceedings for Queen Elizabeth II’s third child that could have major implications for Buckingham Palace. The long-running allegations against Andrew, 61, have already dramatically tarnished his public standing, and he stepped down from royal duties at the end of 2019.

Following a decision made by Kaplan last year, Andrew has until July 14 to answer potential questions about the case under oath. If the case is not resolved, Prince Andrew could face a trial date between September and December 2022.

Buckingham Palace declined to comment, saying “we will not comment on what constitutes a legal matter.”

Giuffre’s attorney, Sigrid McCauley, said the judge’s ruling is “another important step in Virginia’s determined pursuit of justice as a heroic and sex trafficking survivor.”

The civil suit stems from the sprawling and disturbing allegations against Epstein, a wealthy sex offender who befriended a series of powerful men despite a sketchy history.

Epstein pleaded guilty to prostitution charges in 2008 and was indicted on federal sex trafficking charges in July 2019. Prosecutors accused him of carrying out a decades-long plan to sexually abuse underage girls, taking them on private planes to their properties in Florida, New York, New Mexico and the US Virgin Islands. He died by suicide in prison before facing trial.

Maxwell, his former girlfriend and close aide, was arrested in 2020 and charged with facilitating an abuse scheme. A federal jury indicted him in December on five federal counts, including sex trafficking and conspiracy to commit a minor.

Giuffre was not one of the four women who testified at Maxwell’s trial that she was abused. Nevertheless, she was mentioned at trial when Carolyn, one of the victims, testified that Giuffre had recruited her to visit Epstein’s home in Palm Beach, Florida.

what is the meaning of judgment

Kaplan’s ruling on Wednesday allowed the trial to continue, but it did not determine the facts or legality of the case.

Prince’s lawyers had argued that Giuffre’s trial violated the terms of her 2009 settlement with Epstein in Florida, in which she had agreed to a “general release” of claims against Epstein and others. That settlement, which was released to the public last week, shows that Epstein paid Giuffre $500,000 to drop the case without liability or fault. The prince’s name does not explicitly appear as a party.

However, Giuffre’s lawyer David Bois argued that the settlement was irrelevant to her claim against the prince, noting that Andrew was not aware of it at the time and that it did not apply to him.

In the ruling, Kaplan wrote that both parties held a “reasonable interpretation” of the meaning of the agreement.

“The agreement is therefore ambiguous. Accordingly, the determination of the meaning of the language of the release in the 2009 agreement should await further action,” he wrote.

Giuffre brought her case under the Child Victims Act, a New York state law enacted in 2019 that temporarily expanded the statute of limitations in child sexual abuse cases to give survivors more opportunities to seek justice. Prince Andrew’s lawyers argued that the law was unconstitutional, but the judge dismissed the argument, citing another judge’s analysis that this line of reasoning was “constructive” but “without merit”.

In claims made prior to her filing, Giuffre alleged that in 2001, Epstein brought her to London, where she was introduced to Prince Andrew and Epstein went to a nightclub dance with Maxwell and Prince.

In a BBC interview aired in 2019, Giuffre said she was taken to a Trump nightclub where, Giuffre alleged, Andrew asked her to dance and “I was sweating.”

Andrew has denied the claims in 2019, telling the BBC: “It didn’t happen. I can tell you quite frankly that this never happened. I have no recollection of ever meeting this woman, nothing.”

He claimed in the same interview that he was not sweating due to a rare medical condition, and that the night he was accused of having sex with Giuffre, he actually took his daughter to a party at the Pizza Express restaurant. were taking. Woking, south west of London.

Giuffre’s lawyers asked Andrew to provide documents proving both of those claims in court filings. Andrew’s team responded that he was unable to do so, as he has no documentation proving a medical condition that prevents sweating, and cannot identify anyone he has encountered at a pizza restaurant. did in.

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