Prince Andrew breaks cover after sex case judge rules key document between Jeffrey Epstein and Virginia Roberts from 2009 settlement CAN remain secret
- US District Judge Lewis A Kaplan made ruling yesterday in brief order after request from Andrew’s attorney
- Royal’s lawyer says the agreement protects him against claims that he sexually abused her when she was 17
- In an August lawsuit, Roberts alleges that Andrew sexually abused her several times when she was underage
- He has always strenuously denied the allegations and a further hearing in the case is scheduled for next week
Prince Andrew broke cover at Windsor today as a judge backed his lawyer’s request for a 2009 settlement agreement between Jeffrey Epstein and sex abuse accuser Virginia Roberts to remain secret.
New York US District Judge Lewis A Kaplan made the ruling yesterday in a brief order after Andrew’s attorney Andrew Brettler asked that the document remain sealed as the legal team fight to get Roberts’ lawsuit thrown out.
Today, the Duke of York, 61, was pictured driving through Windsor Great Park in the direction of the castle, where the Queen is currently enjoying some rest in response to medical advice.
In the August lawsuit Roberts, now known as Virginia Giuffre, claims Andrew abused her on multiple occasions in 2001 when she was 17. The prince has always strenuously denied the allegations.
Today, the Duke of York, 61, was pictured driving through Windsor Great Park in the direction of the castle, where she is currently enjoying some rest in response to medical advice
Yesterday, a judge backed a request by Andrew’s legal team for a 2009 settlement agreement between Jeffrey Epstein and sex abuse accuser Virginia Roberts to remain secret
Virginia Roberts, now known as Giuffre, has alleged that Prince Andrew sexually abused her multiple times when she was underage in 2001 while she was being trafficked by Jeffery Epstein
In her lawsuit, Giuffre claimed she was trafficked to London as a 17-year-old by paedophile financier Jeffrey Epstein and forced to have sex with the Prince at Ghislaine Maxwell’s house.
She also alleged that Andrew knew she was a victim of sex trafficking by Epstein, and also knew she was a minor under US law.
Brettler, who has called the lawsuit ‘baseless,’ said neither the prince nor Giuffre contend that the release agreement must remain sealed, but they requested that it stay secret because it is subject to a protective order from another judge presiding over a federal civil action in New York.
Brettler said the agreement ‘releases Prince Andrew and others from any purported liability arising from the claims Ms. Giuffre asserted against Prince Andrew here’, and officially made the request to keep the agreement sealed to the Manhattan federal court yesterday.
The settlement agreement was reached between Giuffre and Jeffrey Epstein, who 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.
In his Wednesday order, Kaplan noted that the Estate of Jeffrey Epstein also does not contend that the settlement agreement must remain sealed.
This picture, dated 2001, shows Andrew (left) with his arm around the bare midriff of a 17-year-old Giuffre (center), while Ghislaine Maxwell (right) grins in the background
Giuffre alleges she was trafficked by Jeffery Epstein (left) and Ghislaine Maxwell (right) beginning when she was underage
Kaplan seemed to urge the parties to ask the judge in the other case – Loretta A. Preska – to agree that the document can be unsealed, saying Preska ‘might well view with favor an application… to permit the public disclosure of the Settlement Agreement.’
‘But that is for her to say,’ he wrote, ruling that the agreement can be filed under seal and remain so unless Preska and Kaplan decide otherwise.
In his Tuesday filing, Brettler said the agreement ‘releases Prince Andrew and others from any purported liability arising from the claims Ms. Giuffre asserted against Prince Andrew here.’
This comes after British police announced earlier this month that they have dropped their probe into the prince after conducting a review prompted by Giuffre’s claims.
The Metropolitan Police had previously examined the allegations made by Giuffre against Andrew but did not open a full investigation, saying the case was a matter for the US authorities.
The police also said no action would result from allegations that Epstein’s alleged accomplice, Ghislaine Maxwell, trafficked, groomed and abused women and girls in the UK.
Maxwell, a British socialite and Epstein’s onetime girlfriend, goes to trial in November in New York on sex trafficking charges. She has pleaded not guilty.
In a Newsnight interview with the BBC’s Emily Maitlis in November 2019, Andrew denied claims that he slept with Ms Giuffre on three separate occasions and said: ‘I can absolutely categorically tell you it never happened.
‘I have no recollection of ever meeting this lady, none whatsoever.’
In her civil lawsuit, Giuffre also claims she was forced to have sex with Andrew at Epstein’s mansion in New York and on Little St James, his private island in the Caribbean
Andrew has repeatedly denied that he has sex with Giuffre or ever met her despite a photo of the two together: ‘I have no recollection of ever meeting this lady, none whatsoever’
The duke also said he has no memory of a well-known photograph of him with his arm around Giuffre’s waist and has questioned whether it was his own hand in the image.
The fallout from the interview saw the royal criticized for showing a lack of empathy towards Epstein’s victims and a lack of remorse over his friendship with disgraced financier.
A hearing in the Prince Andrew lawsuit is scheduled for next week.
Judge Kaplan has ruled, with the agreement of both parties, that all disclosures and depositions should be completed before July next year.
The commemorations will last throughout the year and will see senior royals – except Andrew – travel around the country and overseas.
Judge Kaplan intends to draw a line under any amendments to the New York proceedings by December 15.
All disclosures relating to expert witnesses should be made by June 13 with the disclosure process complete a month later.
One US legal expert described the scheduling order as ‘brisk’.
Although the prince and his legal team were shocked when she lodged a civil claim against him in April, they now intend to use it to try to prove his innocence once and for all. He has not been charged with any crime.
They have until this Friday to respond to the claims in her lawsuit, with a further hearing at a court in Manhattan due to be held next week.
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