Prince Andrew accused of ‘victim blaming’ over sexual abuse case legal tactics

·2 min read
Prince Andrew accused of ‘victim blaming’ over sexual abuse case legal tactics

Prince Andrew has been accused of “victim blaming” by women’s rights groups and legal experts after demanding to see Virginia Roberts Giuffre’s mental health records and suggesting she has “false memories”.

The Duke of York is facing a trial over allegations he sexually assaulted Virginia Giuffre when she was underage after a US judge ruled her civil lawsuit can proceed on Wednesday.

Ms Giuffre is accusing the prince of sexually abusing her in New York, London and the US Virgin Islands when she was a teenager.

Prince Andrew’s lawyers have asked to interview her psychologist Dr Judith Lightfoot about Ms Giuffre’s claims that she suffered "severe emotional distress and psychological harm" as a result of the duke’s alleged conduct.

They also want to question her husband, Robert Giuffre, under oath about her "alleged childhood trauma and abuse", her relationship with the late financier Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell.

Virginia Giuffre (pictured) is suing the Queen’s son for allegedly sexually assaulting her when she was a teenager (Crime+Investigation/PA) (PA Media)
Virginia Giuffre (pictured) is suing the Queen’s son for allegedly sexually assaulting her when she was a teenager (Crime+Investigation/PA) (PA Media)

Charlotte Proudman, a barrister and Cambridge academic specialising in violence against women, called the Duke’s strategy “the ultimate in victim blaming”.

She told the Sunday Times: “A lot of victims of abuse understandably reach out for therapeutic support. (Andrew’s lawyers) are trying to discredit her.”

Asking to see a victim’s medical history could potentially discourage them from continuing with the case, she added.

“I think it’s one of the lowest forms of tactics that can be used,” Dr Proudman said.

Clare McGlynn QC, a professor of law at Durham University and expert in sexual violence, added to the chorus of criticism.

She said: “Defence lawyers used to always try to put forward evidence of sexual history, and some of that has been closed off legally. It has moved from ‘sluts’ to ‘nuts’: instead of framing women as sluts, they try to claim they are nuts.”

Showing a victim has mental health problems in itself “doesn’t prove anything” in court, lawyer Richard Scorer added.

Anna Birley, from women’s rights group Reclaim These Streets, said: “It should never be a question of how the victim behaves, what she wears, how much she drank or what she shared with her therapist.”

Ms Giuffre claims Andrew had sex with her against her will at Maxwell’s London home and at Epstein’s mansion on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

The duke is also alleged to have abused Ms Giuffre on another occasion during a visit to Epstein’s private island, Little St James, and on a separate occasion at Epstein’s Manhattan mansion.

The fallout from Andrew’s civil sex case continued on Friday as he faced calls to pay for his own security and lose his dukedom.

Criticism of Andrew is mounting after the Queen stripped him of his remaining patronages and honorary military roles as the monarchy distanced itself from the duke ahead of potentially damaging developments in his lawsuit.

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