A federal judge in New York denied a motion to dismiss a lawsuit against Prince Andrew filed by Virginia Giuffre, a woman who alleges she was sexually trafficked to the royal when she was underage.
"Ms. Giuffre's complaint is neither 'unintelligible' nor 'vague' nor 'ambiguous,'" Judge Lewis Kaplan wrote in the ruling. "It alleges discrete incidents of sexual abuse in particular circumstances at three identifiable locations. It identifies to whom it attributes that sexual abuse."
Giuffre alleged in the lawsuit that the late financier Jeffrey Epstein trafficked her and forced her to have sex with his friends, including the prince, and that Andrew was aware she was underage (17) in the U.S. at the time.
Prince Andrew has denied the allegations and had moved to dismiss the suit.
His attorneys argued that her lawsuit violated the terms of her 2009 settlement agreement with Epstein in Florida, in which she agreed to a "general release" of claims against Epstein and others. That settlement, which was released to the public last week, shows that Epstein paid Giuffre $500,000 to drop the case without any admission of liability or fault. The prince's name does not explicitly appear as a party.
Giuffre's attorney David Boies has said the settlement is irrelevant to her claim against the prince, noting Andrew did not know about it at the time and that it didn't apply to him.
The royal could face a trial date between September and December 2022. The long-running allegations against Andrew have already dramatically tarnished his public standing, and he stepped back from royal duties in late 2019.
Epstein, who pleaded guilty in 2008 to state prostitution charges, was indicted on federal sex trafficking charges in July 2019. Prosecutors accused him of carrying out a decades long scheme of sexual abuse of underage girls, but he died by suicide in prison before he could face trial.
Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein's former girlfriend and close associate, was arrested in 2020 and accused of facilitating Epstein's abuse scheme. A federal jury convicted her in December on five federal counts, including sex trafficking a minor and conspiracy.
Giuffre was not one of the four women who testified in Maxwell's trial that they had been abused. Still, she was mentioned in the trial when Carolyn, one of the victims, testified that Giuffre had recruited her to come to Epstein's home in Palm Beach, Florida.