Prince Andrew seeks trial by jury in US case over sexual abuse allegations

Prince Andrew has asked a New York judge for a trial by jury as he once again denied allegations of sexually abusing one of the late convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein’s accusers.

In court documents filed on Wednesday, the British royal admitted meeting Epstein in or around 1999. Epstein was found hanged in a New York jail cell in August 2019 after being charged with trafficking underage girls for sexual abuse.

However, Prince Andrew denied claims by Virginia Roberts Giuffre that he sexually abused her when she was under the age of 18 and that Epstein trafficked girls to him.

“A jury trial is strategically advantageous for the prince because it requires Giuffre to convince six out of six jurors that she was sexually abused. Those are better numbers than convincing one judge in a bench trial,” said Neama Rahmani, a former federal prosecutor who is president of West Coast Trial Lawyers. While a settlement was still possible, Rahmani speculated that it may be unlikely because of Giuffre’s desire to testify publicly.

The filing came after Judge Lewis Kaplan this month rejected the Duke of York’s motion to dismiss the case on the grounds that he was covered by a confidential 2009 settlement between Epstein and Giuffre.

Under the terms of that settlement, which has since been made public, Giuffre received $500,000 in exchange for dropping all claims against Epstein as well as “any other person or entity who could have been included as a potential defendant”.

The British royal’s lawyers have argued he should not be “dragged” into court 20 years after the alleged abuse, adding that memories fade, witnesses die or may be incarcerated and documents may disappear or be destroyed.

Giuffre’s lawyers have argued her allegations were clear.

Buckingham Palace this month said Prince Andrew would stop using the title “his royal highness” and lose his role as a royal patron to a number of organisations.

The Duke of York announced in 2019 that he would step back from his official duties following a calamitous BBC television interview in which he attempted to explain away his relationship with Epstein and disprove Giuffre’s accusations.

A photograph released with court documents shows the prince with his arm around a young Giuffre’s waist. Ghislaine Maxwell, who last month was found guilty by a New York jury of criminal sex-trafficking charges linked to her long-term relationship with Epstein, is standing to the side in the photo.

Prince Andrew lacked “sufficient information to admit or deny the allegation that there exists photographic evidence of his alleged meeting with Giuffre”, according to Wednesday’s filing.

A lawyer representing Giuffre did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Additional reporting by Joshua Chaffin in New York

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