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Prince Andrew’s attorney argued that his client was never properly served with a civil lawsuit accusing him of sexually abusing a teenage girl, while also arguing that the lawsuit was “baseless, non-viable and potentially unlawful.”
Los Angeles-based attorney Andrew Brettler appeared virtually during a pre-trial teleconference to represent Prince Andrew, offering the Duke’s first public response to the lawsuit that Virginia Giuffre filed against him last month.
He argued that Andrew should be immune from the civil suit—which accuses him of sexually abusing Giuffre on three separate occasions while she was a minor—because of an earlier confidential settlement deal Giuffre entered into with convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein.
“We believe, however, that this is a baseless, non-viable and potentially unlawful lawsuit that the plaintiff has filed against the Duke,” Brettler said, according to CNN. “There has been a settlement agreement that the plaintiff has entered into in a prior action that releases the Duke and others from any and all potential liability.”
He requested a copy of the document, which has been filed under seal in a parallel civil suit by Giuffre against criminal defense attorney Alan Dershowitz, be provided by Giuffre’s attorney, David Boies.
“We’re asking for a copy of the document that we believe absolves our client from any and all liability,” he said, according to ABC News. “Mr. Boies is aware of this. His client is aware of this.”
Boies objected to Brettler’s characterization of the document. In an earlier court filing obtained by The New York Times, Boies argued that Andrew’s attorney's claim that it released their famous client from litigation was “erroneous” because Andrew himself had not been a party to the earlier civil suit.
U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan of the Southern District of New York made no decision on the request and steered the conference toward the issue of whether Andrew had been properly served with the lawsuit.
“This is not an occasion for a different kind of discussion,” he said, according to ABC News.
Boies has argued that the Duke had been “properly served” in the case and noted in an earlier affidavit that a process server gave formal notice of the lawsuit to Andrew when he left the papers with the Metropolitan Police security members who were at the Duke’s main gates on August 27.
“It is clear that Prince Andrew has actual notice of this complaint and proceeding,” he said in court, according to ABC News.
However, Brettler argued that Andrew has not been properly served with the document.
“We do contest the validity of service to date,” he said. “The Duke has not been properly served under either U.K. law or pursuant to The Hague Convention.”
Kaplan gave the two sides several weeks to work the issue out, scheduling a follow-up hearing for Oct. 13.
He added that he could order an additional type of service on the Prince if he determines that what has been done to date wasn’t sufficient, yet urged the attorneys not to get caught up on technicalities.
“You have a pretty high degree of certainty that he can be served sooner or later,” he said. “Let’s cut out all the technicalities and get to the substance.”
Kaplan planned to hear additional arguments at the October hearing but indicated that additional questions about whether Prince Andrew had been served may not be most productive use of time.
“I can see a lot of legal fees being spent and time being expended and delay, which ultimately may not be terribly productive for anyone,” he said, according to The New York Times.
In the civil lawsuit obtained by Oxygen.com, Giuffre has alleged that she was forced to have sex with Prince Andrew at the direction of Epstein and his associate Ghislaine Maxwell, who is currently facing federal charges for her alleged role in the sex trafficking ring. She's pleaded not guilty in the case.
In one instance, Giuffre said she was “forced” to have “sexual intercourse with Prince Andrew against her will” at Maxwell’s London home, according the lawsuit.
The court documents include a photograph provided by her attorneys that was allegedly taken that night showing Prince Andrew with his arm wrapped around Giuffre as Maxwell smiles nearby.
She has also alleged Prince Andrew sexually abused her on two other occasions, once in Epstein’s New York mansion and another time on his private island in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
“Prince Andrew’s actions, described above, constitute extreme and outrageous conduct that shocks the conscience,” the lawsuit alleges. “Prince Andrew’s sexual abuse of a child who he knew was a sex-trafficking victim, and when he was approximately 40 years old, goes beyond all possible bounds of decency and is intolerable in a civilized community.”
Prince Andrew has continued to vehemently deny the allegations and spoke out publicly during an interview with the BBC in 2019.
“I’ve said consistently and frequently that we never had any sort of sexual contact whatsoever,” he said.
At the time, he said that he had no recollection of ever meeting Giuffre and suggested the photo of the pair may have been doctored.
In a statement to Oxygen.com shortly after filing the lawsuit, Giuffre said she planned to hold Prince Andrew “accountable.”
“The powerful and rich are not exempt from being held responsible for their actions,” she said. “I hope that other victims will see that it is possible not to live in silence and fear, but to reclaim one’s life by speaking out and demanding justice.”
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