“Ms. Giuffre’s complaint is neither ‘unintelligible’ nor ‘vague’ nor ‘ambiguous,'” Judge Lewis Kaplan wrote in the ruling. “It alleges discrete incidents of sexual abuse in particular circumstances at three identifiable locations. It identifies to whom it attributes that sexual abuse.”
Giuffre alleged in the lawsuit that the late financier Jeffrey Epstein
trafficked her and forced her to have sex with his friends, including the prince, and that Andrew was aware she was underage (17) in the US at the time. She alleges the Prince sexually abused her at Ghislaine Maxwell’s home in London, at Epstein’s private island in the US Virgin Islands and at his mansion in Manhattan.
Giuffre brought her case under the Child Victims Act, a New York state law enacted in 2019 that expanded the statute of limitations in child sex abuse cases to give survivors more opportunities to seek justice.
Prince Andrew has denied the allegations and had moved to dismiss the suit.
His attorneys argued that her lawsuit violated the terms of her 2009 settlement agreement with Epstein in Florida, in which she agreed to a “general release” of claims against Epstein and others. That settlement, which was released to the public last week
, shows that Epstein paid Giuffre $500,000 to drop the case without any admission of liability or fault. The prince’s name does not explicitly appear as a party.
However, Giuffre’s attorney David Boies argued the settlement is irrelevant to her claim against the prince, noting Andrew did not know about it at the time and that it didn’t apply to him.
In the ruling, Kaplan wrote that both sides put forth “reasonable interpretations” of the settlement’s meaning.
“The agreement therefore is ambiguous. Accordingly, the determination of the meaning of the release language in the 2009 Agreement must await further proceedings,” he wrote.
If the case is not settled, Prince Andrew could face a trial date between September and December 2022. The long-running allegations against Andrew, 61, have already dramatically tarnished his public standing, and he stepped back from royal duties in late 2019.
Buckingham Palace declined to comment, saying, “We would not comment on what is an ongoing legal matter.”
Epstein, who pleaded guilty in 2008 to state prostitution charges, was indicted on federal sex trafficking charges in July 2019. Prosecutors accused him of carrying out a decades long scheme of sexual abuse of underage girls, flying them on private planes to his properties in Florida, New York, New Mexico and the US Virgin Islands.
He died by suicide
in prison before he could face trial.
Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein’s former girlfriend and close associate, was arrested in 2020 and accused of facilitating Epstein’s abuse scheme. A federal jury convicted her in December
on five federal counts, including sex trafficking a minor and conspiracy.
Giuffre was not one of the four women
who testified in Maxwell’s trial that they had been abused. Still, she was mentioned in the trial when Carolyn, one of the victims, testified that Giuffre had recruited her to come to Epstein’s home
in Palm Beach, Florida.
CNN’s Sonia Moghe, Kara Scannell and Max Foster contributed to this report.
Judge rules sexual assault lawsuit against Prince Andrew can move ahead