Prince Andrew Settles Virginia Giuffre Sex Assault Claim

Prince Andrew, after years of public humiliation over sexual abuse allegations that rocked the British royal family, is sparing himself a U.S. courtroom showdown by settling with his accuser.

The second son of Queen Elizabeth II has consistently denied Virginia Giuffre’s claim that he was one of several men to whom Jeffrey Epstein “lent” her for sexual abuse when she was a teenager. But his failure to get her lawsuit dismissed last month set off a cascade of repercussions, culminating in Buckingham Palace stripping him of honorific titles and royal patronages. 

Facing the possibility of trial later this year, Andrew, 61, agreed to settle the case for an undisclosed sum, according to court papers filed Tuesday. The deal was announced by Giuffre’s lawyer David Boies in a letter to the judge overseeing the case. While the terms were confidential, Andrew is required to make “a substantial donation” to Giuffre’s charity supporting victim’s rights.

“Prince Andrew has never intended to malign Ms. Giuffre’s character, and he accepts that she has suffered both as an established victim of abuse and as a result of unfair public attacks,” the parties said in a joint statement filed with Boies’s letter. 

A U.K.-based spokesperson for Andrew declined to comment on the settlement beyond the court filing.

Turning Point

Giuffre has claimed for years that Epstein trafficked her to friends including Andrew, who has, in turn, depicted her in court filings as a liar targeting him for a “payday.” 

But the deal comes after a turning point in the case, when U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan denied Andrew’s request to dismiss the lawsuit. Andrew faced the prospect of sitting for depositions in the case and turning over evidence to Giuffre, whose lawyer had already sought to question the British royal’s former personal assistant and a woman who claimed to have seen Andrew with a young girl in a London nightclub in 2001. Kaplan had suggested the case could go to trial as early as September.

In addition to the legal ramifications, the possibility of a trial caused the the royal family to further distance itself from him. He

had already been forced to step down from his royal duties after a disastrous 2019 BBC interview in which he tried to downplay his friendship with Epstein and socialite Ghislaine Maxwell. After Kaplan’s ruling, Andrew was further stripped of military ranks and royal patronages.

“For some time it has been clear that this was only ever going to end badly for Prince Andrew unless he settled,” said Jon Oakley, a lawyer at London law firm Simkins. “It was the best of the bad options available to him. Whatever the sum of money paid, from a reputational perspective it can only be money well spent so as to bring an end to what has undoubtedly been an extremely damaging time.”

Andrew likely faced at least seven-figure legal fees if the lawsuit went to trial, two lawyers surveyed by Bloomberg said in January. With a personal fortune estimated by his private bank at 5 million pounds ($6.8 million) in 2017, funding the fight would’ve been a challenge.

Giuffre sued Andrew in August 2021 but had previously claimed she had sex with him when she was 17. In his BBC interview, he famously denied her allegation that he had been “profusely sweating” during one of their encounters by insisting that a medical condition dating from his Falklands War service made it “impossible” for him to sweat.

Boies had said he would seek evidence on Andrew’s widely mocked claim as part of the discovery process before trial.

The suit coincided in part with Maxwell’s criminal trial. The British socialite, a longtime friend of Andrew’s, was convicted in December of trafficking underage girls for sexual abuse by Epstein and participating in some of the abuse herself. Though Giuffre did not testify at Maxwell’s trial, she was cited by prosecutors as a victim of

Epstein, who died in 2019 while awaiting his own sex-trafficking trial. One of the women who did testify said in press interviews after the trial that Giuffre told her decades ago that she had sex with Andrew.

Scorched Earth

Until recently, Andrew had taken a scorched-earth approach to Giuffre’s claims. Late last month, in his formal response to her suit, he suggested she was at least partly responsible for her own alleged injuries, though he didn’t specify what actions by her he was talking about. The filing also said “Giuffre’s claims are barred by the doctrine of consent,” though it didn’t say what he claimed she consented to.

He had also previously argued that she was profiting from her status as an Epstein victim. 

“Most people could only dream of obtaining the sums of money that Giuffre has secured for herself over the years,” Andrew said in his motion to dismiss her suit in October. “Accusing a member of the world’s best known royal family of serious misconduct has helped Giuffre create a media frenzy online and in the traditional press.”

But the judge denied the motion, saying it was too early to rule on Andrew’s main argument that he was covered by a litigation release that Giuffre signed as part of a 2009 settlement with Epstein. The release, which was unsealed as part of the litigation, says it applies to Epstein and “any other person or entity who could have been included as a potential defendant” in the suit Giuffre filed against Epstein in federal court in Florida earlier that year. 

Boies had argued Andrew couldn’t have been a “potential defendant” covered by the settlement, because he wasn’t subject to jurisdiction in Florida.

On Tuesday, Andrew took a more conciliatory tone.

“It is known that Jeffrey Epstein trafficked countless young girls over many years,” the joint statement said. “Prince Andrew regrets his association with Epstein, and commends the bravery of Ms. Giuffre and other survivors in standing up for themselves and others. He pledges to demonstrate his regret for his association with Epstein by supporting the fight against the evils of sex trafficking, and by supporting its victims.”

Boies told Kaplan that they expect to file papers formalizing the settlement within 30 days. He asked the court to put the litigation on hold until then.

The case is Giuffre v. Prince Andrew, 21-cv-06702, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

Credit: Bloomberg

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