Prince Andrew, Duke of York, has been named as the defendant in a civil suit filed in a New York federal court that has been brought forward by Virginia Giuffre.
The suit has been filed under the state’s Child Victims Act, and Giuffre alleges that she was ‘lent out for sexual purposes’ by former financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein while she was still a minor under US law. Andrew has been accused of engaging in non-consensual sexual acts with Giuffre while being aware that she was 17 at the time and ‘knowing that she was a sex-trafficking victim’.
Giuffre’s representative in the suit, David Boies, has said that the Prince risks a ‘default judgement’ if he chooses to ‘ignore judicial process’.
Speaking to the BBC, Boies added that Giuffre wished to send a message to rich and powerful men that the behaviour that Prince Andrew is accused of in the suit is ‘not acceptable and that you cannot hide behind wealth and power and palace walls’.
In another interview with Channel 4 News, Boies said his client expected ‘vindication’: ‘Her hope is [that] calling the rich and powerful abusers to account will have some effect on reducing the chance that other young girls will suffer what she suffered’. Furthermore, Giuffre’s representative stated that she wished to be compensated for damage she said was done to her, and that she intends to donate money to a charity to help sex-trafficking survivors.
The civil suit will proceed in New York regardless of whether or not the duke and his legal team decide to engage, though there is no possibility of an extradition hearing as this only applies to criminal charges.
Documents for the suit state that ‘Twenty years ago Prince Andrew's wealth, power, position, and connections enabled him to abuse a frightened, vulnerable child with no one there to protect her. It is long past the time for him to be held to account’.
It is also alleged that the duke and his representatives have rejected requests to provide ‘whatever facts, context or explanation he might have, and to explore alternative dispute resolution approaches’.
Speaking about Giuffre’s allegations in an interview with the BBC in 2019, Prince Andrew stated that he could not remember meeting her.
In a later statement, the Duke of York said:
‘I continue to unequivocally regret my ill-judged association with Jeffrey Epstein. His suicide has left many unanswered questions, particularly for his victims, and I deeply sympathise with everyone who has been affected and wants some form of closure.
‘I can only hope that, in time, they will be able to rebuild their lives. Of course, I am willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations, if required’.