A federal judge in Manhattan ruled Wednesday that the sexual abuse lawsuit against Prince Andrew will be allowed to proceed.
Virginia Giuffre has alleged that Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell trafficked her to the Duke of York, who raped her when she was 17-years-old.
US District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan sided with Giuffre’s lawyers, who had argued that a 2009 settlement Giuffre signed with Epstein for $500,000 – in which she agreed not to sue anyone linked to the convicted pedophile who could be a “potential defendant.” Kaplan ruled that the agreement was only signed for Epstein’s benefit, and not that of a “third party” like Andrew.
Andrew’s motion to dismiss on these grounds was “denied in all respects” by Kaplan, as the court “cannot rewrite the 2009 Agreement to give the defendant rights where the agreement does not clearly manifest an attempt to create them.”
This bad news for Andrew was compounded last week, after the Queen of England reportedly refused to foot his legal bills, forcing him to liquidate a Swiss chalet in a fire sale.
More from Jonathan Turley, who’s not so sure this ruling will stick:
We discussed the novel arguments put forward by Prince Andrew, including a sweeping waiver of future claims by Giuffre in a settlement with Epstein. As we discussed earlier, the long-secret 2009 settlement contains a provision that would seem to favor Prince Andrew in seeking dismissal. In exchange for $500,000, Giuffre agreed not only to release Epstein from any liability but any “other defendants” associated with him. Giuffre agreed to “remise, release, acquit, satisfy, and forever discharge the said Second Parties and any other person or entity who could have been included as a potential defendant (‘Other Potential Defendants’) from all, and all manner of, action and actions” that she may bring, whether “state or federal.”
That is pretty sweeping and this ruling could create major appellate issues. Prince Andrew argued that he is clearly a “potential defendant” as defined by the agreement. Indeed, given his close relationship to Epstein, he was likely one of the figures in mind when Epstein sought the broad language.
Kaplan worked mightily to avoid that conclusion. She insisted that it is not clear that the 2009 settlement benefits Prince Andrew. She asked “what is a ‘potential defendant’ as distinguished from a ‘defendant’?”
It is hard to see how Prince Andrew is not a potential defendant under this sweeping argument.
The court, however, ruled that it is not clear that this agreement can be enforced by anyone other than Epstein, who is now dead. According to this logic, any limits on Giuffre died with him. Yet, that means that Giuffre accepted half a million dollars on the promise not to sue any potential defendants but will now be able to do precisely that in federal court.
I have no sympathy for Prince Andrew and the question of enforceability is a difficult one. However, this and other issues raised by his defense team are credible and likely to be raised on appeal.
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That said, no wonder Andrew was so pissed over the press exposing his exploits…