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Prince Andrew’s lawyers, arguing for dismissal of sexual assault lawsuit, point to accuser’s secret settlement with Jeffrey Epstein

Britain's Prince Andrew has stayed out of the public eye while his lawyers try to get the case against him dismissed. (Steve Parsons/AFP/Getty Images)
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LONDON — Lawyers for Britain’s Prince Andrew, seeking to persuade a New York court to dismiss a sexual assault lawsuit against him, are arguing that a newly unsealed settlement between the accuser and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein prevents her from pursuing the case.

American Virginia Roberts Giuffre says she was trafficked by Epstein to Andrew, and she is suing the British royal for allegedly having sex with her without consent on three occasions, starting when she was 17.

Andrew denies the accusations, and his lawyers are seeking to get the suit thrown out.

At a conference in the case Tuesday, Andrew’s attorney, Andrew B. Brettler, argued that Giuffre’s settlement with Epstein should also release from liability others she would potentially sue, including the prince. “Clearly, Ms. Giuffre intended to release a broad category of individuals including royalty, including businessmen,” Brettler argued.

U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan pressed Brettler on the language in the agreement and ended the conference by saying he would have a decision on the matter “soon.”

The 12-page settlement agreement unsealed Monday shows that Giuffre received $500,000 from Epstein in 2009 and in exchange agreed to “release, acquit, satisfy, and forever discharge” him and “any other person or entity who could have been included as a potential defendant.”

The document does not mention Andrew or other potential defendants by name.

Brettler previously asserted that the settlement agreement “releases Prince Andrew and others from any purported liability arising from the claims Ms. Giuffre asserted against Prince Andrew here,” according to court filings quoted by the BBC.

Giuffre’s lawyer, David Boies, has called the 2009 agreement “irrelevant.”

Attorney Lisa Bloom, who has represented eight Epstein accusers but is not involved in this case, responded on Twitter that Andrew’s team is wrong to interpret the settlement as meaning that Giuffre can’t sue anyone else who wronged her. “This makes no sense, and flies in the face of NY law which grants sexual abuse survivors more time to sue,” Bloom wrote.

Andrew’s legal team also has sought to undermine Giuffre’s credibility, pointing to inconsistencies in her account. She has asserted that any conflicts in her story are a product of trying to recall traumatic events from years earlier.

Andrew’s memory of events, too, has come under scrutiny.

In a televised interview from Buckingham Palace with the BBC in 2019, Andrew said he had “no recollection of ever meeting this lady, none whatsoever,” when asked about Giuffre.

The prince could not explain how a photograph of him, grinning, with his arm around Giuffre’s waist, was taken.

“I have absolutely no memory of that photograph ever being taken,” the prince said in the interview, suggesting that the image was somehow altered.

In the background of the photo is Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein’s former girlfriend, who was found guilty last week of sex-trafficking charges in federal court in New York.

Ghislaine Maxwell, the longtime companion of Jeffrey Epstein, stands trial for sex trafficking of minors and conspiracy. Here's what to watch for in the case. (Video: Joyce Koh/The Washington Post)

Maxwell, 60, was accused of recruiting teenage girls to give sexual massages to Epstein at his homes in Palm Beach, Fla., New York, New Mexico and elsewhere between 1994 and 2004.

Maxwell faces up to 65 years in U.S. prison. No sentencing date has been set.

After his disastrous interview with the BBC about his relationship with Epstein, the prince withdrew from his public duties representing the monarch.

Epstein died in 2019 while in a federal detention center in New York City where he was awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges. His death was ruled a suicide.

Jacobs reported from New York.

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