Prince Andrew is facing the prospect of a trial in a very public civil lawsuit for sexual abuse later this year.
It is an unprecedented situation for a senior British royal – the third child (and reportedly the favorite son) of Queen Elizabeth II – and sets up a dramatic series of legal proceedings that will attract attention around the world and could have major ramifications for Buckingham Palace.
Giuffre alleges that she was trafficked by convicted sex offender and disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein and forced to perform sex acts with the royal – claims that Andrew denies.
Giuffre brought her case under the Child Victims Act, a state law enacted in New York in 2019 which expanded the statute of limitations in child sex abuse cases to give survivors more opportunities to seek justice. An attorney for Giuffre told CNN in August that filing the civil case was to show “all perpetrators of abuse should be held accountable.”
She is seeking damages “in an amount to be determined at trial,” as well as attorneys’ fees and other further relief “as the Court may deem just and proper,” according to the lawsuit.
The Duke of York formally denied the allegations against him and demanded a jury trial in an 11-page legal filing on Wednesday.
His attorneys previously filed a motion to dismiss but that effort failed in early January.
The prince’s reputation has already been severely tarnished by his relationship with Epstein – and his friendship with Epstein’s former partner, Ghislaine Maxwell, who was convicted in December for her role in facilitating Epstein’s abuse.
Here’s what you need to know about the case, and what comes next.
What are Giuffre’s claims?
Giuffre, an alleged victim of Epstein, says she was forced to perform sex acts with Andrew. She says she was trafficked by Epstein and forced to have sex with his friends – including the prince – at a time when she was underage (17) in the US.
Giuffre says the assaults happened in London, New York and the US Virgin Islands, that Andrew was aware she was a minor at the time, and that she had been trafficked by Epstein.
In claims made prior to filing her lawsuit, Giuffre alleged that in 2001 Epstein brought her to London, where she was introduced to Prince Andrew and went dancing at a nightclub with Epstein, his then-girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell and the prince.
In a BBC interview broadcast in 2019, Giuffre said she had been taken to the Tramp nightclub where, Giuffre alleged, Andrew asked her to dance and was “sweating all over me.”
Andrew, 61, has consistently denied the claims, telling the BBC in 2019: “It didn’t happen. I can absolutely categorically tell you it never happened. I have no recollection of ever meeting this lady, none whatsoever.”
He claimed in the same interview that he could not sweat, due to a rare medical condition, and that on the night he is alleged to have had sex with Giuffre, he was in fact taking his daughter to a party at a Pizza Express restaurant in Woking, southwest of London.
Giuffre’s lawyers asked Andrew in court filings to provide documents proving both of those claims. But Andrew’s team responded that he was unable to do so, because he has no documents proving a medical condition that prevents sweating, and could not identity anyone he encountered at the pizza restaurant.
Where do things stand in the court case?
When the lawsuit was filed in August, Giuffre’s lawyers said the damage from the alleged incidents was “severe and lasting.”
That settlement was unsealed on January 3; it shows that Epstein paid Giuffre $500,000 to drop the case without any admission of liability or fault, and that Giuffre agreed to “remise, release, acquit, satisfy and forever discharge” parties and “any other person or entity who could have been included as a potential defendant.” It does not explicitly name Andrew or any others.
The prince’s legal team had hoped the agreement would be something of a trump card. But Andrew lost that effort as Judge Lewis A. Kaplan ruled that “the 2009 agreement cannot be said to demonstrate, clearly and unambiguously, the parties intended the instrument ‘directly,’ ‘primarily,’ or ‘substantially,’ to benefit Prince Andrew.”
It was not the first attempt by Andrew’s legal team to have the lawsuit dismissed; in September his lawyers claimed the papers had not been properly served and that the case should be thrown out as a result.
For many legal experts, the writing was on the wall well before both sides presented their arguments to Judge Kaplan. Georges Lederman, special counsel in the white-collar defense and investigations team at the international law firm Withers, told CNN in mid-January motions to dismiss are “rarely successful.”
He explained: “All that a plaintiff need demonstrate to defeat the motion is that she has satisfied all of the elements necessary to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. That is a low threshold, and, as Judge Kaplan wrote in his ruling, Giuffre in her complaint has indeed satisfied all of the elements necessary to state a claim for sexual abuse.”
What are Andrew’s legal options?
The beleaguered royal is now locked into a protracted and embarrassing legal battle that will undoubtedly cast a dark shadow over his mother’s platinum jubilee year when she’ll be celebrating her 70 years on the throne.
The case could now move towards the discovery stage, where both sides could demand disclosure of documents and reports that are needed to establish their claims or defenses, Melissa Murray, professor of law at New York University, told CNN earlier this month.