A lawyer for Prince Andrew, who was charged last month by a woman who accused him of sexually assaulting her when she was a minor, said Monday in a Manhattan court the lawsuit would likely be invalid under the terms of a previous confidential settlement. . one that the prince’s lawyers say has reached the wife with Jeffrey Epstein.
The hearing, which came in the closely followed lawsuit filed by Virginia Giuffre, one of Mr. Epstein’s most prominent accusers, was the first public response from Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, and suggests his legal team will try any attempt to reverse any attempt to continue the lawsuit. Prince Andrew’s lawyer also argued Monday that his client in Britain has not been properly served with legal papers.
The attorney, Andrew B. Brettler, said Ms. Giuffre’s lawsuit was “unfounded, unviable and potentially illegal.”
“We are very concerned about the veracity of this lawsuit,” Mr. Brettler said during a hearing in federal court in Manhattan.
Ms. Giuffre, 38, alleged in her lawsuit that Prince Andrew, 61, Queen Elizabeth’s second son, sexually assaulted her when she was under 18 at Mr. Epstein’s New York mansion and Mr. Epstein’s private island. , Little St. James, in the US Virgin Islands.
She also said in the lawsuit that Prince Andrew, along with Mr Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell, forced her to have sexual intercourse with Prince Andrew at Mrs Maxwell’s London home.
Prince Andrew, who has denied Ms. Giuffre’s allegations, has not been charged with any crimes, but he has long threatened federal prosecutors in Manhattan to investigate Mr. Epstein and Mrs. Maxwell.
Mr. Epstein, 66, was arrested in July 2019 on charges of sex trafficking and a month later was found dead by hanging in his cell at a Manhattan prison; the death was ruled a suicide. An indictment says that Mr. Epstein recruited dozens of underage girls to perform sexual acts with him at his Manhattan mansion and his Palm Beach estate, after which he paid them hundreds of dollars in cash.
Ms. Maxwell, who was arrested in July 2020, will face trial in November on charges of helping Mr. Epstein recruit, care for and ultimately sexually abuse underage girls. In one case, a charge, she was involved in sex trafficking with a 14-year-old girl, grooming her to perform sexual acts with Mr. Epstein and later paying her. Ms. Maxwell has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Ms. Giuffre has said in previous court filings that Mr. Epstein had offered her to Prince Andrew several times as a teenager for sex.
In Mrs. Giuffre’s lawsuit against Prince Andrew, there is a photo of him with his arm around her waist, with Mrs. Maxwell smiling in the background. According to the lawsuit of Mrs. Giuffre, the photo was taken at Mrs. Maxwell before Prince Andrew sexually abused her.
Prince Andrew’s other lawyers wrote to Mrs. Giuffre suggested the Prince would fight the lawsuit because Mrs. Giuffre had not properly served the complaint, a routine step where a defendant is formally informed that he has been charged.
“We have not been instructed to appear in Mrs. Giuffre’s claim in the Southern District of New York and we have not been instructed to accept service of that claim on behalf of the Duke,” the lawyers for the Blackfords firm wrote.
The attorneys also wrote that Ms. Giuffre’s claim against Prince Andrew may be invalid under a 2009 settlement reached in a lawsuit against Mr. Epstein in Florida.
The lawyer of Mrs. Giuffre, David Boies, had attached a copy of the letter from the prince’s lawyers to a lawsuit on Friday. In it, Mr Boies said the lawyers’ suggestion that the earlier settlement would “somehow release Prince Andrew from Ms Giuffre’s claims” was “erroneous”, noting that Prince Andrew had not been a party to the earlier matter.
The judge, Lewis A. Kaplan, said in court Monday that he would hear arguments about whether the lawsuit had been properly served. But he seemed to question the value of the effort.
“I see a lot of legal costs being spent and time being wasted and delayed, which in the end will not be very productive for anyone,” the judge said.
Susan C. Beachy research contributed.