NEW YORK — A judge gave the green light Wednesday to a lawsuit against Prince Andrew by an American woman who says he sexually abused her when she was 17.
U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan wrote in an opinion that Andrew’s lawyers failed to successfully challenge the constitutionality of the lawsuit Virginia Giuffre filed against him in August.
His lawyers had said that the lawsuit lacked specificity and was disqualified by a deal she reached in 2009 with lawyers for Jeffrey Epstein.
The lawyers did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment Wednesday. Buckingham Palace told The Associated Press it would not comment on the “ongoing legal matter.”
That settlement of a lawsuit was reached a decade before Epstein killed himself at a Manhattan lockup as he awaited a sex trafficking trial.
But Kaplan wrote that there were substantial indications in the $500,000 settlement that Epstein and Giuffre did not clearly intend for language in the deal to “directly,” “primarily,” or “substantially” to benefit someone such as the prince. He noted that the prince was not a party to the agreement.
He also said the agreement was “far from a model of clear and precise drafting.”
The judge’s findings mirrored comments he made during oral arguments by both sides when he was particularly dismissive of the arguments made on the prince’s behalf.
Giuffre sued the prince in August, saying she was coerced into sexual encounters with the prince in 2001 by Epstein and his longtime companion, Ghislaine Maxwell.
Kaplan noted that he was required by law at this stage of the litigation to assume the allegations made by Giuffre are true.
“The law prohibits the Court from considering at this stage of the proceedings defendant’s efforts to cast doubt on the truth of Ms. Giuffre’s allegations, even though his efforts would be permissible at trial,” Kaplan said.
Epstein, 66, killed himself in a Manhattan jail cell in 2019 while awaiting a sex trafficking trial, while Maxwell, 60, was recently convicted of sex trafficking and conspiracy charges in federal court in New York. Giuffre’s allegations against Andrew were not a part of either criminal case.
The prince has strenuously denied Giuffre’s allegations.