A US judge has rejected a bid by Britain's Prince Andrew to dismiss Virginia Giuffre's lawsuit accusing the Duke of York of sexually abusing her when she was 17 and being trafficked by the late financier Jeffrey Epstein.
US District Judge Lewis Kaplan in Manhattan said in a decision made public on Wednesday that it was premature to consider the prince's efforts to cast doubt on Giuffre's accusations, though he would be allowed to do so at a trial.
Kaplan said it was also too soon to decide whether Giuffre and Epstein intended to release people like Andrew in their 2009 settlement agreement. Such settlements can restrict plaintiffs from pursuing further litigation, even against third parties.
The 2009 deal settled the lawsuit in return for $500,000 (€442,600), preventing Giuffre from suing any other "potential defendant". The prince’s lawyers said the deal's language should bar Virginia Giuffre from suing Andrew now, even though he wasn’t a party to the original settlement.
Lawyers for Andrew and Giuffre did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Giuffre sued the prince in August, saying he had sexually assaulted her multiple times in 2001 when she was 17 and was called Virginia Roberts. Her legal team has claimed that the terms of her 2009 deal are irrelevant to Andrew's case.
Prince Andrew -- Queen Elizabeth's second son -- has denied the charges.
He withdrew from royal duties following a widely criticised broadcast interview in late 2019 in which he said he did not recall having met Giuffre.
Epstein killed himself in August 2019 as he awaited trial in the United States on sex trafficking charges that didn't involve Andrew.
His former girlfriend, Ghislaine Maxwell, 60, was convicted in Manhattan on sex trafficking and conspiracy charges related to several women after a month-long trial. Giuffre was not one of the alleged victims in that case.
But in the complaint Giuffre says she was recruited by Maxwell in 2000 and travelled frequently with Epstein after that.