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May 29, 2023

Prince Andrew’s lawyers claim sex abuse allegations vague, judge disagrees

Prince Andrew’s lawyers claim sex abuse allegations vague, judge disagrees

Prince Andrew’s lawyers tried again Tuesday to scuttle a lawsuit by a woman who says he sexually assaulted her when she was 17 by telling a New York City federal judge that she failed to “articulate what happened to her at the hands” of the prince.

U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan forcefully disagreed.

“It was sexual intercourse, involuntary sexual intercourse,” Kaplan told defense attorney Andrew Brettler. “There isn’t any doubt about what that means.”

Kaplan also brushed aside Brettler’s request that the woman, Virginia Giuffre, provide more details about where and when the alleged assaults happened before the lawsuit is allowed to proceed any further.

“With all due respect, Mr. Brettler, that is not a dog that’s going to hunt here,” Kaplan said. “I’ll tell you that straight out, right now. It’s not going to happen.”

Kaplan closed the virtual hearing by saying he would decide “pretty soon” whether the lawsuit will proceed.

Giuffre, who is seeking unspecified damages, claims she was a teenager when convicted sex offender and powerful financier Jeffrey Epstein and his confidante, Ghislaine Maxwell, forced her in the 1990s to have sex with Andrew, Queen Elizabeth II’s son — an allegation Andrew has repeatedly denied.

Virginia Giuffre (then Roberts) with Prince Andrew and Ghislaine Maxwell at Prince Andrew’s London home in a photo released with court documents.

Epstein was awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges in 2019 when he died by suicide in a Manhattan jail cell. Maxwell was convicted last week of recruiting and grooming four teenage girls for Epstein to sexually abuse.

Giuffre was not one of the four women in the case against Maxwell, and there were no allegations against Andrew as part of that case.

Brettler, who tried and failed to block the lawsuit by arguing that Giuffre no longer lives in the United States and by insisting that a $500,000 settlement she reached in 2009 with Epstein immunized Andrew against further legal action, took a different tack Tuesday during opening arguments.

Before the case went any further, Brettler said he wanted Giuffre to “lock herself into a story now, not in the future” and provide further and more precise details of her allegations.

Kaplan said that wasn’t necessary at this stage of the process and added, “It just isn’t the law.”

Andrew’s lawyers can scrutinize Giuffre’s claims when they start sharing evidence, said Kaplan, who dismissed any suggestion that the accuser was being vague about what allegedly happened by reading directly from her lawsuit.

“On one occasion, Prince Andrew sexually abused plaintiff in London at Maxwell’s home,” Kaplan read. “During this encounter, Epstein, Maxwell, and Prince Andrew forced plaintiff, a child, to have sexual intercourse with Prince Andrew against her will.”

Earlier, Kaplan turned aside the defense argument that the lawsuit should be dismissed on the grounds that Giuffre has lived in Australia for all but two of the past 19 years and is raising three children in the city of Perth with her Australian husband.

Andrew’s lawyers have also argued that the lawsuit should be dismissed because Giuffre, then using her maiden name, Roberts, agreed in the Epstein settlement to “remise, release, acquit, satisfy and forever discharge the said second parties and 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, including state or federal, cause and causes of action.”

Andrews’ lawyers have contended that the prince is a “third-party beneficiary of the release agreement” even though he is not mentioned by name in the settlement.

A representative for Giuffre’s lawyer David Boies released a statement Monday saying “the release is irrelevant to Ms. Giuffre’s claim against Prince Andrew.”

“He did not even know about it,” the representative said of the settlement. “He could not have been a ‘potential defendant’ in the settled case against Jeffrey Epstein both because he was not subject to jurisdiction in Florida and because the Florida case involved federal claims to which he was not a part.”

But Section 21 of Giuffre’s complaint against Epstein says the powerful Epstein friends who “sexually exploited” her included “royalty.”

Adam Reiss is a reporter and producer for NBC and MSNBC.

Corky Siemaszko is a senior writer for NBC News Digital.

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