2021-09-15 21:46:19 Prince Andrew Suffers Setback in Bid to Avoid Epstein Accuser’s Lawsuit

Prince Andrew Suffers Setback in Bid to Avoid Epstein Accuser’s Lawsuit

LONDON: The High Court of the United Kingdom agreed on Wednesday to intervene in a sexual assault lawsuit filed against Prince Andrew, clearing the way for him to respond to a legal claim in the United States that he sexually abused a minor while a guest of Jeffrey Epstein.

Andrew, Queen Elizabeth II’s second son, has denied the allegations, and his American lawyer argued on Monday that the lawsuit, filed by Virginia Giuffre, was “baseless, nonviable, and potentially unlawful.” Andrew B. Brettler, the lawyer, also claimed that legal papers were not properly served on his client in the United Kingdom.

The High Court agreed to serve the papers on Andrew if the two parties did not work out a way to do so, citing information provided by Ms. Giuffre’s lawyers. Andrew has been visiting the queen at Balmoral Castle in Scotland, complicating matters.

The allegations leveled against Andrew, 61, known as the Duke of York, have resulted in his exile from official duties and cast a pall over the royal family. According to royal watchers, the family is bracing for damaging revelations in both the Giuffre lawsuit and the upcoming trial of Mr. Epstein’s longtime companion, Ghislaine Maxwell.

Mr. Epstein, a sex offender and prominent financier, committed suicide in jail in 2019 while awaiting a sex trafficking trial.

The prince’s lawyers in the United Kingdom had no comment on the High Court’s decision, and Mr. Brettler did not respond to an email seeking comment.

Ms. Giuffre’s lawyer, David Boies, stated that the lawsuit was now likely to move more quickly and that Andrew would have to respond to Ms. Giuffre’s claim in New York.

“Further delaying tactics, I don’t think will serve him well,” Mr. Boies said in an interview, adding that even if the prince was able to postpone the case for a month or two, it would not help him and would only draw more attention to the matter.

“Refusing to accept service, avoiding service, and hiding in the palace just makes him look bad,” Mr. Boies explained. “I’m not sure what playbook they’re following.”

Ms. Giuffre, 38, claimed in her lawsuit that Andrew sexually abused her at Mr. Epstein’s mansion in New York and on Mr. Epstein’s private island, Little St. James, in the United States Virgin Islands. Ms. Giuffre also claimed in the suit that Andrew, Mr. Epstein, and Ms. Maxwell coerced her into having sexual relations with the prince at Ms. Maxwell’s home in London.

Mr. Epstein, 66, was arrested in July 2019 and died by hanging a month later in his Manhattan jail cell; his death was ruled a suicide. Federal prosecutors accuse him of enlisting dozens of underage girls to perform sex acts with him at his Manhattan mansion and Palm Beach estate, and then paying them hundreds of dollars in cash afterwards.

Ms. Maxwell, who was arrested in July 2020, is scheduled to go on trial in November on charges that she assisted Mr. Epstein in recruiting, grooming, and sexually abusing underage girls. In one case, she was accused of sex trafficking with a 14-year-old girl.

Andrew has been cleared of all criminal charges.

Mr. Brettler, the prince’s lawyer in the United States, argued before a federal judge in Manhattan on Monday that his client had not been properly served with legal papers in Britain and that Ms. Giuffre’s lawsuit might be invalid under the terms of an earlier confidential settlement she allegedly reached with Jeffrey Epstein.

“We have significant concerns about the propriety of this lawsuit,” Mr. Brettler told Federal District Court Judge Lewis A. Kaplan in Manhattan.

Judge Kaplan, on the other hand, stated that there is “a pretty high degree of certainty that he can be served sooner or later” and advised the parties to move on to the substance of the case.

Benjamin Weiser reported from New York, and Mark Landler from London. Susan C. Beachy assisted with research.

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Prince Andrew Suffers Setback in Bid to Avoid Epstein Accuser’s Lawsuit