The Duke of York will argue that a sexual abuse lawsuit filed against him is invalid because his accuser struck a secret deal with Jeffrey Epstein referencing “royalty”.
Virginia Roberts Giuffre settled with the convicted sex offender in 2009 for undisclosed damages after lodging a criminal complaint accusing him of sexual exploitation and abuse.
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The confidential agreement they signed in Florida, in which she allegedly promised not to take further action against the financier or his associates, has since remained sealed.
But after Ms Giuffre sued the Duke for undisclosed damages, claiming she was forced to have sex with him three times when she was 17, the document has become of significant interest to his legal team. His US-based lawyer, Andrew Brettler, told a pre-trial hearing last month he believed it released the Duke and others from “any and all potential liability”.
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It was last week released to the Duke’s legal team on the orders of a judge.
The reference to royalty is likely to be seized upon by his legal team as they argue that it nullifies Ms Giuffre’s claim. No other member of the Royal family has been implicated in the scandal or is thought to have come into contact with Ms Giuffre, allowing them to insist it could only apply to Prince Andrew.
The reference appears to accord with Ms Giuffre’s original complaint against Epstein, filed under the pseudonym Jane Doe in Florida, which stated: “In addition to being continually exploited to satisfy the defendant’s every sexual whim, Plaintiff was also required to be sexually exploited by defendant’s adult male peers, including royalty, politicians, academicians, businessmen and/or other professional and personal acquaintances.”
The ensuing settlement was used by Alan Dershowitz, Epstein’s former lawyer, to get an abuse claim that Ms Giuffre made against him struck out in August. He urged the judge in his own case, Loretta Preska, to unseal the document, warning that he was “compelled not to sit back silently” knowing its contents. “The issue before the court is a matter of professional ethics and the interests of justice,” he said.
Mr Dershowitz told The Sunday Telegraph: “I cannot imagine how the case against the Prince will not be dismissed based on the dismissal of the case against me.”
However, David Boies, Ms Giuffre’s lawyer, has said the royal reference is “irrelevant” to the case. He originally urged a judge not to disclose the document to the Duke, but later said he should be allowed to review it.
The Duke has until Oct 29 to respond to the civil suit, with a remote hearing scheduled for Nov 3.