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Prince Andrew’s attorneys took aim at a lawsuit brought by Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who has claimed she was sexually assaulted by the British prince as a teenager, in federal court Tuesday, arguing that her claims about the alleged abuse were too vague.
The argument, however, failed to sway U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan, who quickly clapped back and shot down the argument.
Prince Andrew’s lawyer Andrew B. Brettler contended during the virtual hearing that Giuffre failed to provide precise details about the alleged sexual assault she has said occurred when she was just 17 years old after being introduced to the prince by wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein and the recently convicted Ghislaine Maxwell, according to the BBC.
“She does not articulate what supposedly happened to her at the hands of Prince Andrew,” Brettler said.
Yet, Kaplan disagreed with the claim, citing details provided in the lawsuit filed earlier this year.
“It was sexual intercourse, involuntary sexual intercourse,” he said, according to NBC News. “There isn’t any doubt about what that means.”
Kaplan then read directly from the lawsuit.
“On one occasion, Prince Andrew sexually abused plaintiff in London at Maxwell’s home,” he read. “During this encounter, Epstein, Maxwell and Prince Andrew forced plaintiff, a child, to have sexual intercourse with Prince Andrew against her will.”
He also dismissed a request by Prince Andrew’s attorneys that Giuffre—who now lives in Australia with her husband and children—should be required to provide more specific details about the alleged assaults before the lawsuit is allowed to move forward to “lock herself into a story now.”
“With all due respect, Mr. Brettler, that is not a dog that’s going to hunt here,” Kaplan told the attorney. “I’ll tell you that straight out, right now. It’s not going to happen.”
He added that it “just isn’t the law” to require that at this stage in the legal proceedings.
Epstein committed suicide in 2019 while awaiting trial in a federal jail cell on charges of sex trafficking. Maxwell was found guilty last week on five counts of sex trafficking after four women took the stand during her criminal trial to accuse the British socialite of recruiting and grooming underage girls for sexual abuse with Epstein.
Although Giuffre was not one of the four women to testify in Maxwell’s trial, she has alleged in her lawsuit that Prince Andrew sexually abused her as a minor on three separate occasions while she was in the company of both Epstein and Maxwell, according to the lawsuit obtained by Oxygen.com.
The court documents included a photo that her attorneys say was taken during one occasion that shows Prince Andrew with his arm wrapped around Giuffre as Maxwell smiles nearby.
Prince Andrew has previously denied the allegations of sexual assault, saying in a 2019 interview with the BBC that it " absolutely categorically tell you it never happened."
Prince Andrew’s attorneys also took other attempts to dodge the lawsuit Tuesday, arguing that a 2009 settlement agreement between Epstein and Giuffre should protect Prince Andrew from being targeted in the latest lawsuit.
Under the agreement, unsealed on Monday, Epstein paid Giuffre $500,000 to end a lawsuit against him. She also agreed as part of the deal not to bring future cases against other “potential defendants.”
Prince Andrew’s attorneys have argued that the royal should be “unambiguously” included as other “potential defendants” referenced in the settlement, although his name is never mentioned in the agreement, according to The Daily Beast.
Giuffre’s attorney, David Boies, disagreed with that interpretation, saying that the section of the agreement was not relevant to Prince Andrew because he was not accused of transporting a person for sexual abuse.
“There is no allegation that Prince Andrew fell into the category of people who were doing the trafficking,” Boies said. “He was somebody to whom the girls were trafficked.”
On Tuesday, Kaplan also pointed to a section of the agreement which said that both Epstein and Giuffre had agreed “that the terms of this Settlement Agreement are not intended to be used by any other person,” suggesting that Prince Andrew may not be entitled to use the terms of the settlement and that either Epstein or Giuffre would have to jointly agree on whether it would release other potential defendants.
He also referenced another portion of the agreement which said the agreement had to be kept secret and that the terms couldn’t be disclosed to anyone else.
"If someone got sued and Jeffrey Epstein said this person was within the release, and it was okay with Ms. Giuffre, then [the deal] could be made available and Epstein could enforce it - but not otherwise," Kaplan said, according to the BBC.
Prince Andrew’s lawyers objected to that interpretation, however, saying he believed the settlement wouldn’t include language to release other potential defendants if it couldn’t be used in other legal proceedings.
Kaplan said at the conclusion of the virtual hearing that he planned to determine “pretty soon” whether the lawsuit will proceed against the British royal.
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