Prince Andrew has been served with a lawsuit by a woman in the United States who says he sexually assaulted her, the Royal acknowledged through his lawyer. This has cleared a hurdle that had stalled legal proceedings in the case for several weeks.
The acknowledgment was entered into court records on Tuesday after it was confirmed in a joint agreement signed by a lawyer for the British prince and approved by a Manhattan federal judge.
According to the court papers, Andrew had been challenging the acceptance of the lawsuit until lawyers spoke by phone on September 21. An agreement was signed three days later, according to the order signed by Judge Lewis A Kaplan.
Virginia Giuffre has claimed in the lawsuit that Andrew abused her on multiple occasions in 2001 when she was still a minor. The lawyer of the Prince has called the allegations “baseless,” the Associated Press reported.
Delivering a lawsuit to a defendant is usually a routine matter but can be more complicated when a defendant resides outside the United States.
A judge must be satisfied that a defendant has been properly notified of the allegations and has a reasonable period of time to respond to them. The prince must file responses to the lawsuit’s claims by October 29. A conference was scheduled for November 3.
Lawyers for Giuffre had told the judge that they’d delivered the lawsuit to Andrew in numerous ways, though never directly into his hands. At one point, Britain‘s high court accepted a request from Giuffre’s lawyers to formally contact Andrew about the lawsuit.
Los Angeles attorney Andrew Brettler, who signed the papers on Andrew’s behalf acknowledging the prince was aware of the lawsuit, had argued at a hearing this month that Giuffre’s claim was “baseless, nonviable and potentially unlawful.”
In late 2019, Andrew told the BBC “Newsnight” program that he never had sex with Giuffre, saying, “It didn’t happen.”
Brettler has said that Andrew cannot be sued because an earlier lawsuit in the United States that was settled “absolves our client from any and all liability.” That 2009 settlement document, however, remains sealed.
(With AP inputs)