NEW YORK, (AFP):- Britain’s Prince Andrew faces a crucial week in his fight against a sexual assault lawsuit brought in New York by a long-time accuser of late financier Jeffrey Epstein and his onetime partner Ghislaine Maxwell.
The release of a legal settlement on Monday and oral arguments in the case on Tuesday come after socialite Maxwell was convicted last week of sex trafficking minors for Epstein.
Virginia Giuffre alleges that Epstein, a money manager who killed himself while awaiting trial in 2019, lent her out for sex with his wealthy and powerful associates, including Andrew.
She has sued the British royal for unspecified damages, alleging he sexually assaulted her in 2001 when she was 17 and a minor under American law.
The 61-year-old Andrew, Queen Elizabeth II’s second son, has not been criminally charged and has repeatedly and strenuously denied the allegations.
A 2009 settlement between Epstein and Giuffre is due to be made public by a New York court on Monday.
Andrew’s lawyers have claimed that the agreement protects the prince and others from being sued by Giuffre.
They hope it will be sufficient grounds for a judge to dismiss her lawsuit against the royal.
On Tuesday, New York judge Lewis Kaplan will hear oral arguments on whether to throw out the suit. The 10:00 am (1500 GMT) hearing will be held via video-conference.
– Sweating –
Attempts by Andrew’s lawyers to halt progression of the lawsuit on the grounds that Giuffre now lives in Australia were rejected by Kaplan on Friday.
The day before, Giuffre’s lawyers demanded that Andrew hand over medical records proving that he is unable to sweat.
In a disastrous 2019 interview with the BBC, the royal denied Giuffre’s claim that they had shared a sweaty dance at a London nightclub, saying that at the time he could not sweat due to a condition related to having fought in the 1982 Falklands War.
The legal developments come as Andrew finds himself under fresh pressure after his friend Maxwell was found guilty on Wednesday of recruiting and grooming underage girls for Epstein to abuse.
She faces life behind bars after being convicted by New York jurors of five of the six counts she faced following a high-profile month-long trial.
Giuffre says Prince Andrew assaulted her at Epstein’s home in New York, and on his private island in the US Virgin Islands.
She alleges that Andrew also sexually abused her at the London home of Maxwell, who introduced the royal to Epstein in the early 1990s.
Epstein died in a Manhattan jail in 2019 after being charged with child sex trafficking charges, in what New York’s coroner ruled was a suicide.
Andrew has rarely been seen in public since he was forced to quit the royal frontline later that year for failing to distance himself from the disgraced financier.
Kaplan said in November that Giuffre’s lawsuit against Andrew could go before a New York jury towards the end of 2022.
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