A federal judge in New York has said that the civil lawsuit brought by Virginia Giuffre against Prince Andrew can go forward, rejecting his lawyer’s claim that an agreement that was reached between Giuffre and deceased pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, Andrew’s friend, shielded him from such lawsuits. The judge said it was too early in the process to make such judgments.
[Manhattan federal judge Lewis Kaplan] continued: “In a similar vein and for similar reasons, it is not open to the court now to decide, as a matter of fact, just what the parties to the release in the 2009 settlement agreement signed by Ms Giuffre and Jeffrey Epstein actually meant.
“The court’s job at this juncture is simply to determine whether there are two or more reasonable interpretations of that document. If there are, the determination of the ‘right’ or controlling interpretation must await further proceedings.”
“With limited exceptions, the motion must be decided solely on the basis of the allegations of the complaint without regard to any extraneous claims or materials,” Kaplan also wrote. “The 2009 agreement neither appears in nor is referred to” in Giuffre’s civil complaint.
The judge also rejected Andrew’s claims that Giuffre’s civil allegations against him lack necessary specificity.
“Ms Giuffre’s complaint is neither ‘unintelligible’ nor ‘vague’ nor ‘ambiguous.’ It alleges discrete incidents of sexual abuse in particular circumstances at three identifiable locations. It identifies to whom it attributes that sexual abuse,” Kaplan wrote.
He said that Andrew’s position about the Giuffre complaint’s alleged vagaries, and how they limit his ability to mount a defense, is undermined by his denials.
“Moreover, the defendant’s assertion that he cannot reasonably prepare a response to plaintiff’s allegations plainly contradicts the content of his moving papers, in which he denies Ms Giuffre’s allegations in no uncertain terms,” he said.
On 4 January, Kaplan ordered that discovery – “the formal process of exchanging information between the parties about the witnesses and evidence they’ll present at trial” – would continue.
Discovery includes depositions and interviews under oath. Both sides could also be subject to subpoenas requiring them to turn over records or documents.
On 25 October, Kaplan issued a scheduling order. Expert witnesses must be disclosed by 13 May. Rebuttal witnesses must be disclosed a month later. The order also states that discovery must be complete by 14 July. Both sides have to file a joint pretrial proposal by 28 July. This will include whether either side wants a trial by jury and if so, questions for potential jurors.
Andrew will undoubtedly appeal today’s decision to the Court of Appeal and, if that appeal fails, try the US Supreme Court. That will delay the above schedule.
Some legal analysts suggest that if this case does go to trial, it will look bad for Andrew if he does not take the stand in his own defense. On the other hand, the thought of being cross-examined under oath will be something that he shrinks from, given how poorly he did in a BBC interview that was widely described as a public relations disaster. However being cross examined would be a good test of his claim that he has a medical condition that prevents him from sweating. This prospect may make a plea deal more attractive though that would also look bad for him.
That is not all Andrew’s woes. One of the witnesses in the Ghislaine Maxwell case who testified anonymously under the pseudonym ‘Carolyn’ has now, in an explosive interview in the British Daily Mail, revealed herself to be Carolyn Andriano in which she says that Giuffre told her that she had slept with Andrew soon after she did so. Andriano also expresses anger at Giuffre for luring her into Epstein’s clutches. Giuffre has said that he and Maxwell used her and others like her to recruit other young girls into their orbit, something she now regrets.