NEW YORK – A new attorney for Britain's Prince Andrew said Monday that the royal had not been properly served with a copy of a new lawsuit filed by a woman who says she was coerced into having sex with him at age 17, and that he intends to challenge jurisdiction in the case.
Hollywood attorney Andrew Brettler went on the offensive against Virginia Giuffre, telling a judge in New York that her claim was “baseless, non-viable and potentially unlawful."
Andrew has repeatedly denied the allegations in the lawsuit brought by Giuffre, who said that as a teenager living in Florida she was one of many girls and young women sexually abused by the convicted sex offender and millionaire Jeffrey Epstein.
In her lawsuit and in interviews, Giuffre says she traveled to London with Epstein in 2001 and had sex with Andrew, after a night of dancing, at the home of British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell. Giuffre has said Epstein paid her $15,000, then arranged for her to have two more sexual encounters with the prince in New York and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they choose to come forward publicly, as Giuffre has.
Andrew has denied the allegations, saying in an interview that he doesn’t remember ever meeting Giuffre, though at least one photograph appears to show them together. Andrew has said he was “at a loss to explain” the image, which appears to show his hand on the woman’s side, and suggested it could have been doctored.
Brettler told the judge that the lawsuit against Andrew — who is the Duke of York — is barred by an earlier settlement agreement that remains under seal "releases the duke and others from any and all potential liability.” He added that Andrew intends to ask Britain's High Court to weigh in on the matter.
“We have significant concerns about the propriety of this lawsuit,” said Brettler, whose clients include several celebrities accused of sexual misconduct.
Giuffre previously settled a lawsuit against Maxwell over her allegations. Maxwell is now awaiting trial in the U.S. on charges that she helped recruit young victims for Epstein to abuse. That case does not involve Giuffre or Andrew. Epstein killed himself weeks after his arrest in 2019.
Brettler on Monday made a procedural argument on Andrew's behalf at the first pretrial conference in the case, saying Monday that Giuffre's legal team hadn't taken the proper steps required to start the case, including providing Andrew with a copy of the lawsuit. Attorneys for Giuffre say the documents were handed over to a police officer on duty at the main gates of Andrew’s home in Windsor Great Park on Aug. 27.
U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan didn't immediately rule on the matter, but told the lawyers whatever bureaucratic hurdles regarding service of the lawsuit would be ultimately resolved and that the case would be litigated.
“I think we are making this a lot more complicated than it really is,” the judge said. “Let’s cut out all the technicalities and get to the substance."