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Judge in Prince Andrew sex abuse case grills his defense, saying there's no debate about what 'involuntary sexual intercourse' means

Jan 5, 2022, 01:07 IST
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Britain's Britain's Prince Andrew, Duke of York, looks on during the funeral of Britain's Prince Philip, husband of Queen Elizabeth, who died at the age of 99, in Windsor, Britain, April 17, 2021.Chris Jackson/Pool via Reuters
  • A federal judge shot down multiple arguments made by Prince Andrew's lawyer during a Tuesday hearing.
  • The Duke of York has denied Virginia Giuffre's sexual abuse allegations and sought to throw out her lawsuit.
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A federal judge appeared unconvinced by several arguments Prince Andrew's lawyer made during a Tuesday hearing over whether to dismiss a sexual abuse case against the Duke of York.

Prince Andrew has vehemently denied Jeffrey Epstein accuser Virginia Giuffre's allegations that he sexually abused her when she was a minor. He has sought to throw out the lawsuit she filed against him in August, arguing that a 2009 settlement agreement between Giuffre and Epstein contains language that shields him from liability.

In the Tuesday hearing, US District Judge Lewis Kaplan aggressively questioned Andrew's defense lawyer, Andrew Brettler, about the wording in the 2009 agreement, which settled Giuffre's claims against Epstein for $500,000. The agreement included language stating that Giuffre would not pursue "second parties and any other person or entity who could be included as a potential defendant."

Brettler argued Prince Andrew clearly fell under the category of "potential defendant."

"Potential defendant is someone who could have been named a defendant in that lawsuit, but was not," Brettler said. "I think it's unquestionable that Prince Andrew could have been sued in the 2009 Florida action."

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Kaplan disagreed, saying that he understood Andrew's side, but he also understood Giuffre's.

"The real question is what did she have in mind, and what did [Epstein] have in mind, if anything, in referring to other persons who could have been included," Kaplan said.

In this Aug. 27, 2019, photo, Virginia Roberts Giuffre holds a news conference outside a Manhattan court.Associated Press/Bebeto Matthews

Kaplan also shot down Brettler's argument that Giuffre did not sufficiently detail the allegations in her lawsuit against Prince Andrew. The lawsuit alleges that Andrew had sexually abused Giuffre in New York, London, and the US Virgin Islands when she was just 17, but Brettler complained that it does not provide dates, locations, or even descriptions of the alleged sexual abuse.

"Before Prince Andrew should be required to answer these very serious allegations, we should be told what the allegations are," Brettler said.

Kaplan said "it just isn't the law" to provide those details in a complaint, adding that Prince Andrew would "have every right to that information" during the discovery process.

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Kaplan also disagreed that Giuffre hadn't sufficiently described her allegations against Andrew in the lawsuit.

"It was sexual intercourse. Involuntary sexual intercourse. There isn't any debate over what that means — at least since someone else was in the White House," Kaplan said.

Tuesday's hearing came just days after a jury found the longtime Epstein associate Ghislaine Maxwell guilty of sex trafficking and conspiracy charges.

Kaplan said he would make a decision "soon" on whether to dismiss Giuffre's lawsuit, and thanked both sides for their "passion" during their arguments.

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