Lawyers for Prince Andrew asked a New York judge on Friday to throw out a lawsuit accusing the prince of sexually abusing an American when she was 17, saying the prince “never sexually abused or assaulted” the plaintiff.
In papers filed in Manhattan federal court, an attorney for Andrew said the plaintiff, Virginia Giuffre, may well be a victim of sexual abuse at the hands of financier Jeffrey Epstein.
“However, and without diminishing the harm suffered as a result of Epstein’s alleged misconduct, Prince Andrew never sexually abused or assaulted Giuffre. He unequivocally denies Giuffre’s false allegations against him,” according to arguments signed by attorney Andrew Brettler.
Brettler asked that the lawsuit be thrown out or that lawyers for Giuffre be required to refile the lawsuit with a more definitive statement of her allegations.
“Accusing a member of the world’s best known royal family of serious misconduct has helped Giuffre create a media frenzy online and in the traditional press. It is unfortunate, but undeniable, that sensationalism and innuendo have prevailed over the truth,” the filing said.
“Giuffre has initiated this baseless lawsuit against Prince Andrew to achieve another payday at his expense and at the expense of those closest to him. Epstein’s abuse of Giuffre does not justify her public campaign against Prince Andrew,” the written arguments said.
The submission also challenged a temporary New York state law that has since expired that let survivors of sex abuse incurred during childhood to sue their alleged abusers no matter how much time had passed.
Giuffre claimed in her August lawsuit that the prince abused her on multiple occasions in 2001. Andrew has said even before the court papers were filed Friday that he never had sex with her.
The Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they choose to come forward publicly, as Giuffre has.
An attorney for Giuffre, Sigrid McCawley, called Andrew's request to dismiss the lawsuit “outrageous" and credited Giuffre for helping to reveal Epstein's alleged sex trafficking that they say Andrew participated in.
On the subject of money, McCawley said, "the only party to this litigation using money to his benefit is Prince Andrew."
Brettler, who has called the lawsuit “baseless,” had included in the arguments a copy of a 2009 settlement agreement that he believes protects his client from being sued.
According to the arguments on Andrew’s behalf, Giuffre’s 2009 settlement of sex trafficking and sexual abuse claims against Epstein included a general release of all claims against him and numerous other individuals and entities.
“To avoid being dragged into future legal disputes, Epstein negotiated for this broad release, insisting that it cover any and all persons who Giuffre identified as potential targets of future lawsuits, regardless of the merit -- or lack thereof -- to any such claims,” the papers said.
The pages of the settlement reached between Giuffre and Epstein were blacked out when they were included in Friday’s submission as “Exhibit A.” The financier was found dead at age 66 in his cell in 2019 while awaiting a sex trafficking trial at a New York federal jail. His death was ruled a suicide.
Earlier this week, Brettler said in a written submission to the judge that the agreement “releases Prince Andrew and others from any purported liability arising from the claims Ms. Giuffre asserted against Prince Andrew here.”
When he requested that the documents be filed under seal, Brettler said neither he nor lawyers for Giuffre believed that it was necessary to keep the 2009 settlement agreement secret except for the fact that it is under seal in another civil litigation in Manhattan federal court.
A hearing in the case is scheduled for next week.