Judge Rejects Prince Andrew's Plea To Quash Sexual Assault Lawsuit Against Him
The Duke of York has been sued by Virginia Giuffre who accuses him of sexually assaulting her when she was a minor.
In a 46-page ruling, Judge Lewis Kaplan of a New York court dismissed the Duke of York Prince Andrew's plea to stop Virginia Giuffre's civil damages claim after she accused him of sexually assaulting her two decades ago when she was 17 years old, thereby a minor under the United States (US) law.
Andrew's lawyers argued that the case against him should be dismissed on the grounds of a confidential settlement between Giuffre and the late Jeffrey Epstein that was revealed on 3 January, which protected Andrew from legal action.
Giuffre, in that settlement, had agreed to not sue other "potential defendants," and in this case, Andrew's lawyers say that the Duke of York is a "potential defendant."
Judge Kaplan, however, argued that the law stops him from guessing which people Epstein and Giuffre were talking about, and that the phrase "potential defendants" could literally refer to everybody and anybody.
He also pointed out that the settlement in no ways says that Prince Andrew should be its beneficiary.
When referring to Andrew's legal team's argument that the allegations against him are too vague, the judge said, "Ms Giuffre's complaint is neither unintelligible, nor vague nor ambiguous, it alleges discrete incidents of sexual abuse in particular circumstances at three identifiable locations," as quoted by the BBC.
Legal experts and observers are now saying that the Duke of York is running out of viable options.
He can try for a settlement outside court, but Giuffre may either not settle or may settle only if Andrew admits that he sexually assaulted her.
If the case goes on, Andrew will have to testify and will be grilled on the personal aspects of his life as well.
Witnesses may also be called, including members of the royal Family.
(With inputs from the BBC.)
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