Federal judges ordered the unsealing of a 2009 settlement agreement that Prince Andrew has claimed insulates him from a civil lawsuit accusing him of having sexually abused a 17-year-old girl.
The more than decade-old deal, signed by the late sex offender Jeffrey Epstein and the prince’s accuser Virginia Giuffre, is said to have shielded broad categories of Epstein’s powerful associates, including “royalty,” from civil liability.
“Because Prince Andrew is a senior member of the British royal family, he falls into one of the expressly identified categories of persons, i.e., royalty, released from liability under the Release Agreement, along with politicians, academicians, businessmen, and others allegedly associated with Epstein,” the prince’s lawyer Andrew B. Brettler wrote in a memo on Oct. 29.
Giuffre denies that the agreement has that effect. The civil agreement is separate from the non-prosecution agreement crafted in a way that would seem to shield Epstein’s suspected co-conspirators from criminal liability.
Ghislaine Maxwell, who is awaiting a jury’s verdict in her sex trafficking trial, unsuccessfully tried to invoke the latter agreement to beat her federal indictment. Maxwell faces the possibility of spending the rest of her life in a U.S. prison if a jury convicts her of six charges, accusing her enticing and trafficking minors for Epstein’s predation.
In civil litigation, Prince Andrew and Professor Emeritus at Harvard Law School Alan Dershowitz cited the civil deal in an attempt to swat away claims by Giuffre, who accused both men of sexually abusing her. Dershowitz, a rival of Giuffre’s lawyer David Boies, vehemently denied the allegations and countersued Giuffre for defamation. He has also sued Boies.
“Indeed, that same agreement was the basis for Giuffre agreeing to dismiss her previously released battery claim against Professor Dershowitz earlier this year,” Brettler’s memo states. “Professor Dershowitz, as a third-party beneficiary of the 2009 settlement agreement, was entitled to rely upon and enforce the terms of that secret deal.”
Senior U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska, who is presiding over Dershowitz’s case, and Lewis Kaplan, who is presiding over the prince’s, ordered the release of the 2009 civil deal on Wednesday, scheduling the document’s public release for Jan. 3, 2022.
Prince Andrew and Giuffre will face off in federal court on Jan. 4, 2022, one day later.
Giuffre’s civil complaint alleging that accused sex-trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell turned her into Epstein’s “sex slave” helped spark the 60-year-old Brit’s criminal prosecution. The lawsuits against Dershowitz and Prince Andrew sprung from allegations that first became public during the litigation with Maxwell.
The lawsuit against Prince Andrew accuses him of sexually assaulting Giuffre in three locations: Epstein’s New York mansion and private island in the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as in Maxwell’s London home. The latter locale is where the prince was pictured with his arm around Giuffre’s waist.
Andrew, who strongly denies the allegations, has not been charged with any crimes. Former U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman of the Southern District of New York, however, said the prince has not cooperated with their investigation in a strongly worded statement in June 2020. A month later, Berman’s successor, then-Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss, emphasized her prosecutors “would welcome” the prince’s help.
Read the ruling, below:
This is a developing story.
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