After weeks of delays, Prince Andrew has officially been served with a sexual assault lawsuit. Having received the go-ahead from New York judge Lewis Kaplan, lawyers for the prince’s accuser Virginia Giuffre sent the civil lawsuit to his Los Angeles lawyer Andrew Brettler via email and FedEx on Monday, September 20.
Virginia Giuffre is accusing the royal of sexual assault that allegedly took place when she was 17 years old. Andrew denies all allegations. In order to formally begin proceedings, Giuffre’s legal team needed to ensure the documents containing their allegations reached the prince’s hands. Up until September 20, that had proven difficult, as her lawyers were unable to serve the prince at his Windsor home and other attempts to reach him were unsuccessful. However, Judge Kaplan eventually agreed that serving the prince via Brettler (who was just recently hired by the prince) was acceptable.
As the case continues to unfold, here’s Prince Andrew and Virginia Giuffre's lawsuit explained.
What Is Prince Andrew Accused Of?
Virginia Giuffre first filed a lawsuit against the Duke Of York on August 9, 2021. She accuses him of having sex with her when she was a minor. The court papers claim this was during the same time she also was “being abused” by his friend Jeffrey Epstein, the late American businessman and convicted sex offender.
Giuffre claims, per BBC News, that "that she was a sex-trafficking victim" and was abused by the prince in Epstein’s homes in London, Manhattan, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Prince Andrew has vehemently denied the claims, stating during his infamous BBC Newsnight interview in 2019 that he has “no recollection of ever meeting this lady.”
Has Prince Andrew Been Served The Legal Papers?
In August, legal couriers made two attempts to serve the Duke papers at Windsor. According to various reports, a first attempt was made at Prince Andrew’s official home at Royal Lodge in Windsor Great Park, however, the courier was turned away by staff. During a second attempt, the papers were apparently left with a Metropolitan Police Officer “who said they would be passed to Prince Andrew’s legal team,” per ITV News.
An attempt was also made to reach the prince via any British lawyer the Giuffre team could find who had previously represented him. That was unsuccessful, too.
Meanwhile, the prince has been spotted at the Queen’s Balmoral Estate but has made no comments about the case.
A breakthrough was finally made when Judge Kaplan ruled that legal papers could be served to Prince Andrew via his LA-based lawyers, stating it was “reasonably calculated to bring the papers served to the defendant's attention,” regardless of whether the prince “authorised” the lawyer to accept it. The ruling came after London’s High Courts stated that it would intervene and formally contact Prince Andrew about the case, per Sky News.
On Monday September 20, the papers were officially served and, under federal rules, the Duke of York has 21 days to respond or could face a default judgement.
What Has The Palace Said?
After stepping away from royal duties, Prince Andrew has remained silent on the matter, and there has been no word from the royal family or Buckingham Palace on the case’s latest developments. However, in 2019, Buckingham Palace released a statement saying the accusations towards the prince were “without foundation.”
Why It Matters
When disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein died in jail after committing suicide in 2019, it brought attention to the dozens of underage victims he sexually abused and trafficked, and the circumstances that allowed the businessman to commit his crimes for years. Epstein was enabled by his power, money, and famous connections, and concerned commentators are keen to understand the extent of Prince Andrew’s friendship with the abuser.
Giuffre, has remained firm with her accusations, speaking to BBC Panorama in 2019 detailing dancing with Prince Andrew in a London nightclub alongside Epstein and his girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell in 2001.
“He knows what happens. I know what happened and only one of us knows the truth. And I know it's me,” said Giuffre. “These powerful people were my chains,” Giuffre went on to say, also showing a picture of herself with Prince Andrew.
For the Royal Family, Prince Andrew’s troubling connection to Epstein is undoubtedly a source of great concern. In a statement from November 20, 2019, Prince Andrew admitted to “unequivocally regret my ill-judged association with Jeffrey Epstein” before stepping down.
In August 2019, the Duke stressed it was "a mistake and an error" to spend time with Epstein in 2010, after he was already a convicted sex offender, also adding that he did not “see, witness or suspect” any of the behaviour from Epstein that has since come to light.
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