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 Prince Andrew, and she is suing the British royal for allegedly having sex with her without consent on three occasions, starting when she was 17 years old.
Andrew denies the accusations, and his lawyers are seeking to get the suit thrown out. A conference in the case is scheduled for Tuesday.
Among their arguments is the document unsealed by the court on Monday and reviewed by The Washington Post. The 12-page settlement agreement 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. The prince's lawyer, Andrew B. Brettler, has 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 himself, 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 the image was somehow altered.
In the background of the photograph is Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein's former girlfriend who was found guilty last week of sex-trafficking charges in federal court in New York.
Maxwell, 60, was accused of recruiting teenage girls to give sexual massages to Epstein at his homes in Palm Beach, Florida, 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.