Crime & Justice

US releases secret 2009 accord that may shield Prince Andrew from trial

New York, Jan 3 (EFE).- The US judiciary on Monday unsealed a confidential agreement signed in 2009 according to which deceased magnate Jeffrey Epstein paid $500,000 to Virginia Giuffre in exchange for her abandoning any accusations of alleged sexual abuse she suffered at Epstein’s hands when she was a minor, a document that defense attorneys for England’s Prince Andrew hope will serve to overturn the sex abuse case against him that Giuffre has filed, seeking unspecified damages.

The agreement, which until now had remained secret, establishes that Giuffre agreed to forego any legal action against Epstein and others she might potentially accuse of sexual trafficking of minors for which the multimillionaire was being investigated and which is now being pursued in a New York court.

The clause in question, although it does not mention Prince Andrew specifically, could shield him from Giuffre’s accusation to a New York court that he raped her several times when she was a minor in one of Epstein’s mansions.

That is what the defense team representing the son of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II hopes, having insisted on the release of the accord and claiming that it frees the prince of any potential responsibility, according to attorney Andrew Brettler said last September during a court hearing.

Prince Andrew, who has denied knowing Giuffre – despite the fact that a photograph widely circulated in the media shows him holding her around the waist – has tried to have the case against him thrown out on several occasions.

On Tuesday, an oral hearing is scheduled in which the court will hear a defense request that the case be dismissed.

Giuffre, now 38, claims that she was the victim of sexual trafficking by financier Epstein and his close friend and sex trafficking accomplice Ghislaine Maxwell, and that she suffered sexual abuse by Prince Andrew when she was 17 in London, New York and on Epstein’s private island in the Caribbean.

The accuser – who now lives in Australia – filed a civil suit against the British royal last August in New York under the Child Victims Act.

The hearing scheduled for Tuesday will be the first since Maxwell was found guilty of sexual trafficking last week in a case closely related to Giuffre’s, although the case against Maxwell was held in criminal court.

The agreement signed by Giuffre and Epstein also established that its terms “forever discharge … any other person or entity who could have been included as a potential defendant” from future legal action by Giuffre.

Prince Andrew’s legal brief, filed on Oct. 29, claims that “To avoid being dragged into future legal disputes, Epstein negotiated for [a] 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 brief adds: “Because Prince Andrew is a senior member of the British royal family, he falls into one of the expressly identified categories of persons, i.e., royalty, released from liability under the release agreement, along with politicians, academicians, businessmen, and others allegedly associated with Epstein.”

Meanwhile, Giuffre’s attorney David Boies has said that her settlement with Epstein is “irrelevant” to the case against Prince Andrew.

EFE mvs/fjo/eat/bp

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