New York, Jan 12 (EFE).- A New York federal judge has denied Prince Andrew’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought by a woman who says the British royal sexually abused her when she was a minor.
The ruling, made public on Wednesday, means the litigation may proceed and paves the way for a potential civil trial in the United States in the fall.
US District Judge Lewis Kaplan rejected the argument by Prince Andrew’s legal team that a 2009 settlement reached between late American financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein and the accuser, Virginia Giuffre, also shielded the 61-year-old Duke of York from litigation.
The decision was handed down after a hearing last week in which the attorneys for the second son of Queen Elizabeth II noted that language in that settlement deal, through which Giuffre received $500,000, released both Epstein and other “potential defendants” from liability in future lawsuits.
Prince Andrew’s lawyers said that latter category included their client.
Kaplan, however, ruled that the case should proceed, saying the wording of the 2009 agreement was ambiguous.
“Independent of whether the release language applies to Prince Andrew, the agreement at a minimum, is ‘reasonably susceptible to more than one interpretation’ on the equally important question of whether this defendant may invoke it,” the judge said.
Giuffre, 38, says she was the victim of sex trafficking by Epstein, who killed himself in jail in 2019 while awaiting trial, and his longtime confidante, British former socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, who was convicted last month of luring teenage girls for sexual abuse.
The woman alleges in her lawsuit against Prince Andrew that she was forced to have sex with the royal on three occasions at the age of 17 – in London, New York and on Epstein’s private island in the Caribbean.
The civil claim against the prince, which was brought under a New York law known as the Child Victims Act that “extends the statute of limitations (to age 55) for a survivor of child sexual abuse in criminal and civil cases,” was filed in August in that state and seeks unspecified damages.
Buckingham Palace, Queen Elizabeth II’s official residence in London, refused to comment Wednesday on Kaplan’s ruling.
“We would not comment on what is an ongoing legal matter,” a Palace spokesman said. EFE