17 Sep 2021

Prince Andrew sex assault case: Papers may be served again - US judge

3:23 pm on 17 September 2021

A woman accusing Prince Andrew of hiding from her sexual assault lawsuit can try an alternative means of serving her legal papers so he can address her claims, a US judge has ruled.

Britain's Prince Andrew, Duke of York.

Prince Andrew, Queen Elizabeth's second son. Photo: AFP

US District Judge Lewis Kaplan in Manhattan said Virginia Giuffre's plan to deliver her lawsuit to the Prince's Los Angeles-based lawyer was "reasonably calculated to bring the papers served to the defendant's attention", regardless of whether he had "authorised" the lawyer to accept it.

The lawyer, Andrew Brettler, had no immediate comment.

"We are grateful that the Court has granted alternative service on Prince Andrew. This moves the case forward", Sigrid McCawley, a lawyer for Giuffre, said in an emailed statement.

Giuffre sued the 61-year-old Duke of York last month, accusing him of battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress over alleged misconduct from about two decades ago.

Now 38, she was underage at the time of Andrew's alleged abuse which she said occurred around the time his friend, financier Jeffrey Epstein, was sexually abusing her.

The prince stepped down from royal duties as details emerged over the last two years about his relationship with Epstein, a registered sex offender who killed himself in a Manhattan jail in August 2019 while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.

The civil lawsuit seeks unspecified damages.

Prince Andrew has denied Giuffre's accusations and Brettler at a Monday court hearing called Giuffre's case a "baseless, nonviable, potentially unlawful lawsuit".

Kaplan ruled barely six hours after Giuffre formally requested his intervention, saying "service is not intended to be a game of hide and seek behind palace walls."

The judge issued his order one day after London's High Court said it would arrange for the prince to be served if the parties failed to work out their own arrangement.

Lawyers for Giuffre have argued they already properly served Prince Andrew in England when a copy of the lawsuit was left with a police officer guarding the prince's home in Windsor.

In her lawsuit, Giuffre accused Prince Andrew of forcing her to have sexual intercourse at the London home of Epstein's longtime associate Ghislaine Maxwell.

Giuffre also said the prince abused her at Epstein's mansion in Manhattan and on Epstein's private island in the US Virgin Islands.

Maxwell faces a 29 November trial on charges she helped recruit and groom underage girls for Epstein to sexually abuse. She has pleaded not guilty. Prince Andrew has not been charged with crimes.

- Reuters

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs