Ruling Puts Prince Andrew on Path to Civil Trial

Judge decides Giuffre's earlier settlement doesn't keep royal from being sued
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 12, 2022 4:23 PM CST
Ruling Puts Prince Andrew on Path to Civil Trial
Britain's Prince Andrew, shown last August.   (Neil Hall/PA via AP, File)

Britain's Prince Andrew has almost run out of possibilities for keeping Virginia Giuffre's sexual abuse lawsuit against him from going to trial. US District Judge Lewis Kaplan in New York on Wednesday turned down Andrew's request to dismiss the case because of the terms of a 2009 settlement she reached in 2009 with Jeffrey Epstein. That deal didn't have anything to do with Andrew, Kaplan said, and didn't protect him from being sued, as the royal's lawyers had argued, the AP reports. Depositions of the prince and Giuffre, whose lawyer praised the ruling, would take place before the trial, which the judge said wouldn't begin before late this year.

Andrew's team can raise doubts about the allegations against him when the case reaches trial, but Kaplan said Wednesday that at this point in the process, he has to treat Giuffre's allegations as credible. Having the prince on the stand answering accusations of sexual abuse and being questioned about his personal life would be a horror for the royal family, says an analysis in the Guardian; it would, of course, also be traumatic for Giuffre. He and Queen Elizabeth II face limited options for avoiding more damage to the royal family. Andrew's military appointments and remaining patronages could be taken from him. He probably could be officially retired as a working member of the family, but there's no accepted, customary means of removing a prince from the royal picture.

For Andrew, the most obvious solution for avoiding a trial is a settlement. But money is an issue for him, and his mother apparently isn't interested in footing the bill. Even if he finds the money, David McClure writes in an opinion piece in the Guardian, it's probably too late. The accusations and his friendships with convicted sex criminals—Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell—make it hard to imagine how Andrew could restore his reputation globally or among his mother's subjects. Still, he'll have to try, one London analyst said. "The practical realities of this position have stuck a noose around Prince Andrew’s neck," Mark Stephens said. "He's got to settle." (More Prince Andrew stories.)

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