Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Prince Andrew to face trial for sexual assault accused: US judge

NEW YORK – Prince Andrew failed to persuade a US judge to dismiss Virginia Giuffre’s lawsuit alleging that the Duke of York had sexually assaulted her when she was a teenager.

In a ruling made public on Wednesday, US District Judge Lewis Kaplan said Giuffre could pursue claims that Andrew beat her and intentionally caused her emotional distress while the late financier Jeffrey Epstein was smuggling her.

A Manhattan judge said it was too early to assess Andrew’s efforts to “cast doubts” on those claims, though the 61-year-old prince could do so in a trial.

Kaplan said it was too early to decide whether Giuffre’s 2009 civil settlement with Epstein “clearly and unequivocally” protected Andrew from being prosecuted by Giuffre.

The judge ignored the merits of Giuffre’s claims.

Lawyers for Andrew and Giuffre did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Queen Elizabeth II’s second son Andrew has denied Giuffre’s allegations that he forced her to have sex more than two decades ago at a London home of Epstein’s former aide Ghislaine Maxwell, and two of Epstein’s properties. But he was abused.

In a 2009 settlement, Epstein paid Giuffre US$500,000 without accepting liability to end her Florida trial, accusing her of sexual abuse at an early age.

late test possible

Kaplan’s decision puts Giuffre’s case against Andrew on track for a trial that Kaplan has said could begin between September and December 2022 if no settlement is reached.

Although the claims have not been proven and the prince has not been charged with criminal wrongdoing, his relationship with Epstein has damaged his reputation and cost him several royal duties.

Andrew’s troubles escalated when critics said he failed in a 2019 BBC interview to show sympathy for Epstein’s abuse victims.

A Buckingham Palace spokesman declined to comment on Kaplan’s decision.

Epstein killed himself while awaiting trial for sex trafficking charges at the age of 66 in a Manhattan prison cell in August 2019.

Maxwell, 60, was convicted on December 29 of misconduct between 1994 and 2004 for recruiting and grooming girls for Epstein.

She is seeking a new trial after a jury, including Reuters, told media that she had discussed being a victim of sexual abuse during jury deliberations.

‘messy’ settlement

In his 44-page ruling, Kaplan said the “messy” language in Giuffre and Epstein’s 2009 settlement agreement suggested they could reach out to “something in the middle” to protect others from future lawsuits.

The settlement included language for “forever leave” in Giuffre’s lawsuit against Epstein, which various people “could have included as potential defendants”.

“We do not know what, if anything, went into the minds of the parties” when drafting the agreement, Kaplan wrote.

The judge continued, Giuffre and Andrew “have expressed at least two reasonable interpretations of significant language.” “The agreement is therefore unclear.”

Settlement agreements can also prevent plaintiffs from pursuing further litigation against third parties, such as Giuffre.

Kaplan also rejected Andrew’s claim that allowing Giuffre to stand trial violated his due process rights under the New York Constitution.

Giuffre sued Andrew last August, less than a week before a state law lapsed, giving accusers a two-year window to bring claims over alleged child abuse that occurred long ago. .

Kaplan called that window, which was extended by a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, “an appropriate measure to address the injustice meted out to victims” of child sexual abuse.

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