(NEW YORK) — Attorneys for Prince Andrew appeared virtually in front of a federal judge in New York on Tuesday, arguing that a lawsuit against the prince made by an alleged victim of Jeffrey Epstein should be dismissed.
Virginia Giuffre, who claims she was sexually assaulted by both Epstein and Prince Andrew starting when she was 17, filed a civil lawsuit against the prince in August 2021.
Prince Andrew has consistently denied her allegations and said he never had sex with Giuffre and has sought to dismiss the lawsuit on several grounds.
Prince Andrew’s attorney argued on Tuesday that a newly unsealed 2009 settlement agreement between Giuffre and Epstein prevents her from suing the Duke of York because the royal was a “potential defendant” in the earlier lawsuit.
The term “potential defendant,” the prince’s attorney argued, is someone who is not named as a defendant but could have been.
“That phrase has to be given meaning,” the attorney, Andrew Brettler, said. “Prince Andrew could have been sued in the 2009 Florida action. He was not and therefore was a potential defendant.”
Giuffre’s attorney, David Boies, said Prince Andrew could not have been a potential defendant in the 2009 lawsuit because he was not subject to the jurisdiction of the Florida courts and was not the person alleged to have trafficked Giuffre for sex.
“There’s no allegation Prince Andrew was the person transporting,” Boies said.
Judge Lewis Kaplan, who presided over the court Tuesday, noted that since Epstein died by suicide in August 2019 while he awaited trial on federal charges for the sex trafficking of minors in Florida and New York, the use of the term “potential” in the 2009 settlement could not be exactly defined.
Kaplan said Brettler had one reasonable view of the contract’s meaning and Giuffre’s side had a different, reasonable view.
“But we don’t have Mr. Epstein here to say what his view was,” Kaplan said. “The use of the word ‘potential’ is the use of a word to which neither you nor I can find any meaning at all.”
Brettler also argued Giuffre pleaded insufficient details in her complaint which made it difficult for Prince Andrew to know exactly what he is alleged to have done, when and where.
“Ms. Giuffre needs to lock herself into a story now. Not sometime in the future after she conducts discovery and learns where the chips may fall,” Brettler said.
Kaplan flatly rejected the argument.
“With all due respect Mr. Brettler, that’s not a dog that’s going to hunt here,” Kaplan said. “I understand your point. It just isn’t the law.”
Kaplan also read the part of Giuffre’s complaint in which she alleged Prince Andrew had sexual intercourse with her beginning when she was 17.
As of Tuesday, there was no immediate decision. The judge said he would rule soon, but did not lock himself into a time frame.
There will be no pause in the case while the sides await the decision. They must move forward with depositions and discovery. The parties expressed their intentions to each take between 8 and 12 depositions.
Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.