Prince Andrew will face a court battle with his sex abuse accuser Virginia Roberts Giuffre after a judge threw out his attempts to stop the case.
The Duke of York is being sued for rape after he allegedly sexually abused his accuser when she was just 17.
Lawyers for the Duke had argued that Virginia’s civil lawsuit should be dropped based on a previous $500,000 (£371,000) deal signed by her in 2009.
However, Judge Lewis Kaplan, who chaired the video hearing in New York, has ruled the case will be allowed to proceed.
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It is a major blow to the Duke whose reputation is already in tatters over questions over his friendship with twisted couple Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell.
Virginia claims she was trafficked by the sick duo to be abused by Andrew after meeting him at a nightclub in London.
It is alleged that she was taken back Ghislaine’s townhouse were she was forced to have sex with the Royal, who was at the time aged 41.
Andrew strongly denies all allegations against him – and claims he has no memory of even meeting Virginia.
He also claims he had no knowledge of any wrongdoing by his pals Maxwell and Epstein.
The Duke – who is understood to have not been following Tuesday’s hearing and awaiting a briefing from his lawyers – is now facing a major legal battle.
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Andrew could face a trial which may see him having to give a deposition to a US court – and a parade of witnesses trotted out regarding the allegations.
It would be the latest and biggest embarrassment to the Royal family over the case.
The Duke’s attempts to get the case thrown out hinged on a secret 2009 payout agreement signed by Virginia and Epstein.
His lawyers attempted to say this backroom deal – which saw Epstein compensate the sex abuse victim – excluded Andrew from legal action.
In it she agreed to end all action against “second parties” but does not name the Duke.
Virginia’s settlement had been kept under seal – but judges last month ordered it to be released yesterday unless “good cause” could be shown otherwise.
And her lawyers successfully argued that the agreement should not stop her case against Andrew.
They previously said the agreement was an attempt by Andrew to use a “get out of jail free card”.
And at Tuesday’s hearing the duke’s attack-dog attorney Andrew Brettler was met with scepticism at almost every turn as he made his arguments, with Judge Lewis Kaplan telling him at one point: “That’s not a dog that’s going to hunt here.”
Mr Brettler argued that a newly-disclosed £371,000 secret agreement between Virginia and late financier Epstein in 2009 released the royal from any legal action.
And he said the settlement had resulted in a similar lawsuit from Andrew’s accuser being dismissed.
Mr Brettler told the court: “ ‘Potential defendant’ is someone who can be named as a defendant in the lawsuit but was not.
“I think it’s unquestionable that Prince Andrew could have been sued in the 2009 Florida action. He was not.”
But Judge Kaplan appeared to disagree over the interpretation of “potential” and said: “It is a word that neither you or I can find any meaning at all.”
Andrew’s lawyer argued that his client should be covered by it because Ms Giuffre had mentioned “royalty” in her civil complaint against Epstein.
The judge indicated the settlement wording might mean that both Epstein and Ms Giuffre had to agree as to whether or not it could be used to release other potential defendants.
He said: “If someone got sued and Jeffrey Epstein said this person was within the release, and it was OK with Ms Giuffre . . . Epstein could enforce it — but not otherwise.”
Virginia’s lawsuit is the first time Andrew has faced action over her claims – which she first went public with in 2011.
The judge, speaking to Mr Brettler, said: “You know, for a certainty, that I’m obliged to accept as true, the well-pleaded factual allegations of the complaint.”
He said, reading from allegations: “During this encounter, Epstein, Maxwell, and Prince Andrew forced plaintiff, a child, to have sexual intercourse with Prince Andrew against her will.”
The judge added: “I must assume the truth of this allegation.”
Andrew has repeatedly denied all allegations against him, which includes rape in the first degree, and his attorney’s have claimed his accuser has a “tendency to change her story”.
They also previously warned that she could be creating “false memories” with her claims.
Virginia, now 38-year-old, claims she was enticed by the Duke of York’s pal Maxwell and lured into paedo Epstein’s sick sexual pyramid scheme.
She alleges she was forced to have sex with Andrew on three occasions – in London, New York and on Epstein’s island Little St James.
Her legal team argue she was a “frightened, vulnerable child with no one there to protect her” when she was allegedly abused by Andrew, saying “no person, whether President or Prince, is above the law”.
Andrew is named as the only defendant in the suit, brought under New York state’s Child Victims Act, but Epstein and Maxwell are mentioned frequently throughout.
She is seeking unknown amounts of compensation and punitive damages over the allegations.
Virginia claims she feared for her life when she was allegedly forced to have sex with Andrew, who is accused of having been aware of her age and status as a “sex-trafficking victim”.
Court documents claim Ms Giuffre was “lent out for sexual purposes” by convicted sex offender Epstein including while she was still a minor under US law.
The docs add the alleged assaults “have caused, and continue to cause her, significant emotional and psychological distress and harm”.
“Prince Andrew’s actions, described above, constitute extreme and outrageous conduct that shocks the conscience,” the lawsuit stated as it described the emotional distress suffered by Ms Giuffre.
“Prince Andrew’s sexual abuse of a child who he knew was a sex-trafficking victim, and when he was approximately 40 years old, goes beyond all possible bounds of decency and is intolerable in a civilised community,” it added.
In an infamous Newsnight interview with the BBC’s Emily Maitlis in November 2019, Andrew denied claims that he slept with Ms Giuffre and said he had “no recollection” of ever meeting her.
He also said he has no memory of the well-known photograph of him with his arm around Virginia’s waist at Maxwell’s house, and has questioned whether the photo had been doctored.
The fallout from the interview saw the royal criticised for showing a lack of empathy towards Epstein’s victims and a lack of remorse over his friendship with disgraced financier.
Andrew has previously pledged to assist with any investigation into his former friend, but there has been a long running war of words between his team and US prosecutors about how much assistance he has offered them.
Epstein hanged himself in his prison cell in 2019 while awaiting trial on sex-trafficking offences.
And meanwhile Maxwell faces potentially spending the rest of her life in prison after she was convicted for her role in the scheme.
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