NEW YORK – Prince Andrew wants a jury to decide a lawsuit by a sexual assault accuser if he can't get the case dismissed altogether, his lawyers said in court papers Wednesday.
Virginia Roberts Giuffre, 38, an American, has accused the British royal of sexually abusing her when she was 17 while she traveled with financier Jeffrey Epstein. The request from Andrew's lawyers was inside a line-by-line formal response to the lawsuit Giuffre filed against him in August in Manhattan federal court.
Andrew, 61, has strenuously denied Giuffre's allegations, and attempted to get the lawsuit tossed. Earlier this month, Judge Lewis A. Kaplan rejected his attempt to win an early dismissal, allowing depositions and other evidence gathering by both parties to move forward.
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Wednesday's response was filed by Los Angeles attorneys Andrew Brettler and Melissa Lerner. They said the lawsuit should be dismissed on several grounds, again citing Giuffre's permanent residency in Australia and a settlement more than a decade earlier between Epstein and Giuffre that Andrew's lawyers contend prevents her from suing the prince. They also argued that she consented to sexual activity and the statute of limitations has expired.
Brettler told USA TODAY that "obviously, the possibility of settlement is always on the table in any civil litigation, but we think our filing today makes our intentions pretty clear."
The document Andrew's lawyers filed consisted of a dozen pages of mostly boilerplate legal language in which the prince replies to each paragraph of the Giuffre lawsuit, with such phrases as "Prince Andrew lacks sufficient information to admit or deny the allegations."
David Boies, lead lawyer for Giuffre, told USA TODAY the filing is a "step in the legal process" that Andrew had to file as a formal response to the lawsuit. He said the filing does not mean that an out-of-court settlement is out of the question or off the table.
For one thing, Giuffre has already demanded a jury trial, he said, and all that's required under the legal process is for one side to do so.
"I think this is a case that probably has to go to trial but not necessarily," Boies said. "What is important to Virginia Giuffre is vindication, which she can get through a trial but also through an appropriate settlement. … If it's possible to get an appropriate resolution that vindicates her, we’ll do it and if not, we’re going to go trial."
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The next step in the case will be to take depositions from Andrew and Giuffre and other potential witnesses. Boies said he intends to go to London to depose Andrew. He said he expects at least significant portions of those depositions will eventually be made public after being used at a trial.
If there is a trial, Boies said, it will be in person in New York, not virtual. Andrew can't be compelled to show up, because this is a civil case, but he would be at a disadvantage at trial if he didn't.
"His lawyers can argue for him and use his deposition but it just doesn’t sit well with a jury for someone not to show respect for the (legal) process," Boies said. "My guess is that he does (turn up). … He doesn’t want to lose this case and he loses it worse if he doesn’t come."
Giuffre asserted that she met Andrew while she traveled frequently with Epstein between 2000 and 2002, when her lawyers maintain she was "on call for Epstein for sexual purposes" and was "lent out to other powerful men," including Andrew. Her lawsuit said she still suffers significant emotional and psychological distress and harm.
In the wake of the judge's decision earlier in January, Andrew – who had already stepped back from royal duties – was stripped of his honorary military titles.
Epstein, 66, took his own life in a Manhattan federal lockup in August 2019 while he awaited trial on sex trafficking charges. Giuffre has also leveled allegations at Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein's longtime companion, but was not part of the criminal case that ended recently with Maxwell's conviction on sex trafficking charges.
Contributing: Larry Neumeister, The Associated Press, and Maria Puente, USA TODAY
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Prince Andrew seeks jury trial in Virginia Giuffre's sexual abuse suit