Prince Andrew to challenge jurisdiction over accuser’s lawsuit in New York

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Britain’s Britain’s Prince Andrew, Duke of York, looks on during the funeral of Britain’s Prince Philip, husband of Queen Elizabeth, who died at the age of 99, on the grounds of Windsor Castle in Windsor, Britain, April 17, 2021. Chris Jackson

By Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK (Reuters) -Britain’s Prince Andrew plans to challenge a U.S. court’s jurisdiction over a civil lawsuit by a woman who accused him of sexually assaulting her two decades ago, when she was 17.

In a Monday filing with the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, a lawyer for Queen Elizabeth’s second son said Andrew also plans to contest whether he was properly served with Virginia Giuffre’s lawsuit.

Andrew has denied Giuffre’s accusations, and said he had no recollection meeting her.

Giuffre, 38, has also claimed she was abused by the late financier Jeffrey Epstein at around the same time as Andrew’s alleged abuse.

Lawyers for Giuffre did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Andrew’s lawyer did not immediately respond to a similar request.

U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan in Manhattan scheduled an initial conference in Giuffre’s lawsuit for later on Monday.

Andrew, 61, the Duke of York, is a former friend of Epstein, a registered sex offender who killed himself in a Manhattan jail in August 2019 after U.S. prosecutors charged him with sexually exploiting dozens of girls and women.

    The prince stepped down from royal duties and saw charities and other organizations distance themselves from him after he gave a November 2019 BBC interview now widely seen as disastrous concerning his relationship with Epstein.

Giuffre’s lawsuit puts Andrew in a tough position because he could be held in default and owe damages if he ignores it, or face years of legal battles by defending himself in court.

According to the Aug. 9 complaint, Andrew forced Giuffre to have unwanted sexual intercourse at the London home of Ghislaine Maxwell, the British socialite and Epstein’s longtime associate.

    The complaint also said Andrew abused Giuffre at Epstein’s mansion on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, and on a private island Epstein owned in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Giuffre’s lawyers said Andrew was served with the lawsuit on Aug. 27, when a process server left a copy with a police officer guarding Royal Lodge, his home in Windsor, England. The officer said the lawsuit would be forwarded to the prince’s lawyers.

But in a Sept. 6 letter, Gary Bloxsome, a lawyer for Blackfords, which said it represents Andrew in U.K. matters, said the attempted service may violate the Hague Convention.

Bloxsome also said Giuffre’s lawsuit “may not be viable” because she signed a 2009 release in a separate Florida case covering “claims against persons associated with Jeffrey Epstein.”

David Boies, a lawyer for Giuffre, said in a Sept. 10 court filing that Andrew had “apparently instructed” his lawyers at Blackfords to “evade and contest service.”

Maxwell has pleaded not guilty to charges she aided Epstein’s sexual abuses and faces a scheduled Nov. 29 trial before a different Manhattan federal judge.

Prince Andrew to challenge jurisdiction over accuser’s lawsuit in New York

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