Prince Andrew’s lawyer said in a federal court hearing Monday that a secret agreement protects him from liability in a lawsuit brought by one of Jeffrey Epstein’s victims.
After years of being linked to the Epstein case by news reports, the British royal is now having to fend off civil allegations in court.
Virginia Roberts Giuffre sued Prince Andrew in August 2021 for battery and emotional distress, saying that she was sexually abused by him on multiple occasions when she was under the age of 18, forced to have sex with him in the London home of Epstein’s accomplice and former girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell, and molested by the British royal in Epstein’s New York and Palm Beach, Fla., mansions.
A picture of Giuffre, Prince Andrew and Maxwell reportedly taken in Maxwell’s London home in 2001 has become notorious and is included in the suit. The prince has denied any recollection of the meeting and suggested in a 2019 BBC interview that he thought the picture might have been doctored.
At the hearing Monday, Prince Andrew’s lawyer, Andrew Brettler, said he believes the suit is without merit because the British royal is protected from a “settlement agreement that (Giuffre) entered into in a prior action.”
Brettler asked for the release of the document, which is currently under seal in a different case overseen by U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska.
“We are asking for a document that we believe absolves our client from any and all liability,” Brettler said.
Last week, Epstein’s former defense attorney, Alan Dershowitz, requested that he be allowed to provide Prince Andrew’s lawyers with a copy of a settlement agreement and general release agreed to by Giuffre and Epstein in her 2009 lawsuit against Epstein. Dershowitz and Giuffre have sued each other, and Giuffre’s suit against Dershowitz was partially dismissed earlier this year, which Dershowitz contends was in response to his bringing up this same release. His lawyers wrote in requesting to share the Epstein agreement that “there is no doubt that Ms. Giuffre was aware of her alleged claims against Prince Andrew before she agreed to the Release.”
The attorney who represented Giuffre in the suit against Epstein disputes that the agreement protected Prince Andrew.
“The settlement never mentioned Prince Andrew,” Robert Josefsberg said.
Brettler also questioned the “propriety” of the suit, saying that he believed British courts would weigh in on its legitimacy. Despite Brettler’s appearance in the court hearing on behalf of Prince Andrew, the royal’s team is disputing whether Prince Andrew was appropriately notified of the suit.
Giuffre’s suit against Prince Andrew comes as Maxwell awaits trial later this year on criminal charges related to the sexual trafficking of four girls between 1994 and 2004. She is accused of recruiting and grooming the girls to be abused by Epstein and of participating in the abuse of one of the girls herself.
Maxwell introduced Epstein and Prince Andrew in 1999, according to Giuffre’s suit against the British royal. Giuffre has said that she was abused by Epstein between 2000 and 2002 and directed by Epstein and Maxwell to have sex with many of their powerful friends, including Prince Andrew. All have denied her claims.
Maxwell was arrested in July 2020, nearly one year after Epstein was arrested and charged with sex crimes in the summer of 2019. Epstein’s arrest came in the wake of renewed attention to the remarkably lenient plea deal he struck with federal prosecutors a decade earlier. That deal was the subject of the Miami Herald’s 2018 “Perversion of Justice” series. Epstein was found dead in his Manhattan jail cell in August 2019, a month after he was rearrested. His death was ruled a suicide.
Giuffre sued Maxwell in 2015 and the two parties settled in 2017. Statements made by Maxwell during depositions she gave as part of the suit form the basis of two counts of perjury she faces separately.
Much of the material from the 2015 lawsuit was kept under seal even after the settlement, and the Herald has sued for documents from the case to be released. As a result of the Herald’s suit, thousands of pages of once-sealed documents have been released since 2019, but thousands more remain under seal.
Brettler and lawyers representing Giuffre didn’t immediately respond to requests for clarification about the document in question.
The prince did not participate in the virtual hearing and he has denied any knowledge of Giuffre.
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