Prince Andrew doesn’t sweat, and as a member of the British royal family, he doesn’t usually hug either.
Those were just two of the bizarre excuses the Duke of York gave when he tried to deny allegations he had ever met or had intercourse with a teenage sex slave recruited by his friends, convicted sex trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell and billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein more than two decades ago.
Now, as a Manhattan federal court judge appears poised to allow a civil lawsuit from accuser Virginia Roberts (now Giuffre) to move forward against the British royal, his denials will likely get him nowhere.
Prince Andrew claimed he had never met Giuffre despite a photograph showing the British royal with his arm around the waist of the then-17-year-old at Maxwell’s London home in 2001. In a “car crash” interview with the BBC in Nov. 2019, Andrew suggested that the photograph was not really a true likeness.
“It’s a photograph of a photograph of a photograph. Nobody can prove whether or not that photograph has been doctored,” he said, adding that “I am not one to, um, as it were, hug.”
He also claimed he couldn’t have had sex with Giuffre because she said he was “dripping with sweat” the night they danced at Tramp night club before the tryst. The reason? “I didn’t sweat at the time because I had suffered what I would describe as an overdose of adrenalin in the Falkland’s War when I was shot at,” he said in the BBC interview.
He has also claimed he was with one of his daughters on the night of the tryst, having taken her to a Pizza Express restaurant, followed by an early night at home. But in 2020, witness Shukri Walker came forward and said she remembered Andrew being at the club that night, because at one point she apologized for stepping on his foot.
Now, as Andrew’s stories appear increasingly ridiculous, his lawyers are relying on legal technicalities to get him off, should the case go ahead. In a virtual hearing on Jan. 4, federal judge Lewis Kaplan seemed unconvinced by Andrew’s lawyers’ argument that a $500,000 settlement between Epstein and Giuffre in 2009 also protected the royal from prosecution. Kaplan is expected to rule soon on whether the case can move to trial.
“It was a real pleasure to hear Judge Kaplan aggressively question Prince Andrew’s attorney as he tried every possible technicality to block Virginia Giuffre’s access to justice,” said lawyer Lisa Bloom, an attorney who represented eight of Epstein’s victims.
Now, Andrew’s ability to mount a defense rests on a few, thin legal technicalities, which will likely fail to convince anyone he never had sex with Giuffre. But one of the following arguments might just get him off:
Statute of Limitations: Giuffre, now 38, brought her case against Andrew under the Child Victims Act, a 2019 New York State Law giving victims of sexual abuse a window of two years to file civil suits against their alleged childhood abusers. Her suit was filed five days before the close of the “window” for filing claims — some stretching back decades — expired on Aug. 14.
Last month, lawyers for Andrew, 61, tried to get the case thrown out of court, arguing that the Child Victims Act was “unconstitutional” — an argument Bloom finds abhorrent.
“Most disturbing was Andrew’s attempt to get the entire extended statute of limitations for New York child sexual abuse victims held unconstitutional, which would hurt so many victims struggling for justice,” Bloom told The Post. “Does the Queen know what he’s up to?”
Age of consent: Andrew’s lawyers also argue that because Giuffre was 17 — the legal age of consent in New York at the time of the alleged abuse — she would have difficulty proving that the she was “forced” to have sex.
Andrew’s lawyers have argued that in a case where a 17-year-old alleges abuse, the victim must prove a lack of consent by “implied threat” — which, in Giuffre’s case, would depend on unavailable third-party witness testimony. The prince says only four people were witness to the alleged abuse — Maxwell (who did not testify at her own trial last month), Epstein (who died in prison awaiting trial in 2019), Andrew himself and Giuffre.
Giuffre’s claims under the Child Victims Act are “based solely on the unverified (and unverifiable) contention that they did not consent to those acts,” Andrew’s lawyers say in court papers.
Residency issues: In court papers, Prince Andrew argued that Giuffre’s lawsuit should be thrown out because Giuffre is not a US resident, and does not have the right to file a claim in a US court because she lives full-time in Australia. Giuffre’s lawyers David Boies and Sigrid McCawley countered that she is a resident of Colorado, where her mother currently lives, and said the residency question was little more than “a transparent attempt to delay discovery into his own documents and testimony.”
Lack of documentation: Prince Andrew’s lawyers claim that he has no documents requested by Giuffre’s lawyers, including any communications with Epstein or Maxwell, who was convicted on several federal sex trafficking charges and is now awaiting sentencing. They also argued he had no information related to his trips to visit Epstein in Florida and New York or any medical documentation about his inability to sweat. His lawyers have called the demands for the documentation “oppressive” and “harassing,” adding that the information is protected from disclosure by rights of privacy under the US constitution.
Blaming the victim: Andrew’s lawyers are arguing that Giuffre is not credible because she allegedly helped procure girls and young women for Epstein and Maxwell and took a payout when she settled her claims against Epstein in 2009. And yet, more than ever, juries are inclined to believe the alleged victim even if there are lapses in their memory.
“They were all believable. Nothing they said felt to me like a lie,” Scotty David, a juror who helped convict Maxwell, told the Independent this week.
It is not yet clear whether Andrew’s case will be heard by a jury or a single judge. Whatever the outcome, any trial is certain to generate even more damaging publicity for the British royal family and the beleaguered prince, who is eighth in line to the throne. One legal expert believes that Prince Andrew should have settled right away to avoid the embarrassment of a future discovery process should the case move to trial. Lawyers for Giuffre reportedly have evidence from one unnamed woman who recalls being told to get ready for Andrew at Epstein’s Upper East Side mansion — details which would come out in an eventual discovery process.
Former federal prosecutor Richard Signorelli, now a defense attorney, who is not connected to the case, said, “Prince Andrew’s attorneys should have given serious consideration whether it would have been in their client’s interest to maintain as low a profile as possible by confidentially settling this lawsuit even if they thought it was not potentially meritorious.”
Instead, the Duke of York finds himself in the toughest spot of his life, fighting not just for his standing as a member of the royal family but also for his future as a potential convict.