- An attorney for Britain's Prince Andrew questioned the legality of a lawsuit claiming he sexually abused an underage girl decades ago.
- Andrew's lawyer said her claim might be barred by a secret settlement agreement she signed years ago in connection with accusations that she was abused by sex criminal Jeffrey Epstein.
- The prince's lawyer also told a Manhattan federal judge that he disputes representations by attorneys for the accuser, Virginia Giuffre, that Prince Andrew was legally served with her lawsuit in England in late August.
An attorney for Britain's Prince Andrew on Monday questioned the legality of a lawsuit claiming he sexually abused an underage girl decades ago, saying her claim might be barred by a secret settlement agreement she signed years ago in connection with accusations that she was abused by sex criminal Jeffrey Epstein.
The prince's lawyer also told a Manhattan federal judge that he disputes representations by attorneys for the accuser, Virginia Giuffre, that Prince Andrew was legally served with her lawsuit in England in late August.
"We have significant concerns about the propriety of this lawsuit," said Prince Andrew's lawyer, Andrew Brettler, during a teleconference court hearing.
"We believe this is a baseless, non-viable and potentially unlawful suit," said Brettler.
But Judge Lewis Kaplan quickly cut Brettler off, telling the lawyer that Monday's hearing was "not an occasion" to argue whether Giuffre's lawsuit is legally valid.
Giuffre' lawyer, the high-powered litigator David Boies, told Kaplan that he is confident that Prince Andrew was properly served with the suit by a process server who left a copy of the complaint with a police officer outside of a royal residence on Aug. 27 after authorities initially refused to accept the document.
But Boies told Kaplan that he will, within a week-long deadline, decide whether to ask the judge to also order alternative means of legally serving the Duke of York with the complaint, as is required in civil lawsuits. Those means could include the judge ordering that the suit be served on a foreign national under a provision in American law.
Prince Andrew, who is the son of Queen Elizabeth, reportedly has been actively trying to avoid getting served with the suit.
Earlier Monday, Brettler filed notice that he was acting as the prince's lawyer in the case, which Giuffre, who is one of Epstein's many accusers, had filed in August. The attorney said in that document that he would challenge the suit on the grounds of jurisdiction.
Giuffre claims the Duke of York sexually abused her two decades ago in New York, London and in the U.S. Virgin Islands when she was underage, and in the clutches of the prince's friend Epstein and Epstein's accused procurer Ghislaine Maxwell.
Giuffre "was regularly abused by Epstein and was lent out by Epstein to other powerful men for sexual purposes," her suit alleges.
Giuffre's suit says she was "was also forced to have sex with Defendant, Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, at [Epstein's] and Maxwell's direction."
Prince Andrew has denied Giuffre's allegations and claims he has no memory of even meeting her, despite the existence of a photograph that appears to show them smiling and standing next to each other as Maxwell broadly beams in the background.
Brettler told the judge Monday that he believes any claim by Giuffre against the prince — and other potential defendants — may be barred by a settlement agreement she previously signed, which is under a seal imposed by another judge in Manhattan federal court.
Brettler asked that Boies turn over that document to him to verify whether that belief is correct.
Boies in turn objected to that request, saying that he disputed Brettler's characterization of the significance of the settlement deal relative to Prince Andrew, and arguing that it was premature for the prince's lawyer to request any evidence while he was still arguing that the suit was not legally served.
Kaplan did not rule on the request, saying that the other federal judge has yet to rule whether the document can be unsealed.
"She's in charge ... and we'll leave it at that," Kaplan said, referring to the other judge.
Epstein, a former friend of ex-Presidents Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, died from what has officially been ruled a suicide by hanging in 2019 while being held in a Manhattan federal jail pending trial on child sex trafficking charges.
Maxwell is due to go on trial in Manhattan federal court in November on charges that she recruited underage girls to be abused by Epstein.
She has pleaded not guilty in that case. Maxwell is being held without bond in a Brooklyn jail.