Prince Andrew has “unequivocally” denied allegations that he sexually abused a woman while she was under 18 – in return, she accuses her of taking advantage of “junk” lawsuits and “malicious” media coverage.
A judge in New York has now indicated that the case may come to court at the end of next year.
Here’s what we know so far.
Hollywood tactics used by Andrew’s lawyers
In early August, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, now living in Australia, filed a lawsuit against the Duke of York, alleging that he sexually abused her on several occasions, facilitated by the late disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein and socialist Ghislaine Maxwell. dating back to 2001, when Mrs Giuffre was 17.
Prince Andrew has consistently denied the allegations and has recently hired high-profile Hollywood lawyer Andrew Brettler, who has a history of defending celebrities accused of sexual misconduct, including Bohemian Rhapsody director Bryan Singer and actor Armie Hammer.
After first trying to circumvent the U.S. civil case for procedural reasons, Mr. Brettler then went on the offensive and chose mudslinging tactics to discredit his famous client’s accusations.
“Most people could only dream of getting the sums of money that Giuffre has secured for himself over the years,” Mr Brettler wrote in court documents.
“This presents a compelling motive for Giuffre to continue filing frivolous lawsuits against individuals like Prince Andrew, whose tainted reputation is only the latest sideline of the Epstein scandal.”
Sir. Brettler then wrote that Mrs. Giuffre had initiated the “unfounded” trial to “obtain another payday at his expense and at the expense of his next of kin.”
The prince’s team also submitted several tabloid articles attacking her character, including a New York Daily News story that described her as a “money-hungry sex kitten”.
In 2009, Mrs Giuffre reached a confidential settlement with Epstein, a convicted sex offender, who Mr Brettler claimed in September also effectively exempted Prince Andrew “from any responsibility”.
The same deal was cited by criminal defense attorney Alan Dershowitz, whom Ms. Giuffre has also accused of abuse, to have a battery claim against him rejected in August.
The latest from the trial
In a hearing lasting less than 10 minutes on Wednesday, lawyers for the Duke of York and Mrs Giuffre revealed that they each expected to set aside around eight to 12 people as part of the case.
Sir. Brettler referred to a new lawsuit against Ms. Giuffre brought in by artist Rina Oh Amen, who claims Ms. Giuffre slandered her on Twitter in 2020, saying she had recruited girls that Epstein could abuse.
Sir. Brettler suggested that the case would touch on “similar issues” and that witnesses could overlap them both.
U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan said he was unable to set an exact trial date due to complications in meeting juries safely during the pandemic.
What happens next?
Ms Giuffre’s lawyer, David Boies, told the hearing that his team would be ready to begin clarifications “relatively soon”, although some witnesses may not be identified for another two months.
Prior to any trial, both the prince and Mrs Giuffre would have to be questioned under oath by opposing lawyers before mid-July next year.
Meanwhile, another high-profile lawsuit is about to begin in New York, with Mrs Maxwell, Epstein’s longtime partner and ex-boyfriend due to appear in court on November 29.
She is accused of having helped recruit and groom three underage girls that Epstein may be abusing, and of having participated in the sex trade of a 14-year-old girl.
Ms Maxwell, who has been in jail in Brooklyn since her arrest in 2020, has pleaded not guilty to eight criminal offenses.
What we know about Virginia Roberts Giuffre
Ms Giuffre, now 38, is an American-Australian who claims she was trafficked to Britain when she was 17 and sexually abused by Prince Andrew at Maxwell’s home in London in 2001.
Despite Prince Andrew initially claiming he does not remember meeting Mrs Giuffre, a picture shows him with his arm around her in surroundings comparable to Mrs Maxwell’s home of Mrs Maxwell’s own brother.
In a lawsuit filed in August, she also accused the prince of abusing her in Epstein’s mansion in New York and on his private island in the US Virgin Islands.
“Twenty years ago, Prince Andrew’s wealth, power, position and connections enabled him to abuse a frightened, vulnerable child without anyone there to protect her,” the case documents read.