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Prince Andrew has acknowledged through his lawyer that he has been served with a lawsuit by an American woman who claims he sexually assaulted her.
The acknowledgment was confirmed in a joint agreement signed by a lawyer for the British prince. It was approved by a Manhattan federal judge and entered into the public court record on Tuesday.
The court papers said that the 61-year-old had been challenging the acceptance of the lawsuit until lawyers spoke by phone on Sept. 21. An agreement was signed three days later, according to the order signed by Judge Lewis A. Kaplan.
In the lawsuit, Virginia Giuffre claims Andrew abused her on multiple occasions in 2001 when she was under 18. His lawyer has called the allegations “baseless.”
Delivering a lawsuit to a defendant is usually a routine matter but can be more complicated when a defendant resides outside the United States.
Prince Andrew has been sued for sexual abuse and battery. (AP)
A judge must be satisfied that a defendant has been properly notified of the allegations and has a reasonable period of time to respond to them. The prince must file responses to the lawsuit's claims by Oct. 29. A conference was scheduled for Nov. 3.
Lawyers for Giuffre, 38, had told the judge that they'd delivered the lawsuit to the royal in numerous ways, though never directly into his hands. At one point, Britain's high court accepted a request from Giuffre's lawyers to formally contact Andrew about the lawsuit.
Los Angeles attorney Andrew Brettler, who signed the papers on Andrew's behalf acknowledging the prince was aware of the lawsuit, had argued at a hearing this month that Giuffre's claim was “baseless, nonviable and potentially unlawful.”
Brettler has said that Andrew cannot be sued because an earlier lawsuit in the United States that was settled “absolves our client from any and all liability.” That 2009 settlement document, however, remains sealed.
Attorneys for Giuffre previously filed the lawsuit in Manhattan federal court, where Jeffrey Epstein was charged criminally with sex trafficking a month before he killed himself at age 66 in August 2019. At the time, the American financier was in an adjacent federal jail where he was ordered to await trial.
Photo from 2001 that was included in court files shows Prince Andrew with his arm around the waist of 17-year-old Virginia Giuffre who says Jeffrey Epstein paid her to have sex with the prince. Andrew has denied the charges. In the background is Epstein’s girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell. (U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals)
Giuffre previously made waves when she went public with her accusations against the Duke of York, alleging the British royal abused her when she was under 18 including at Epstein's Manhattan home. She has repeatedly made her allegations against Epstein, his onetime girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell, and Andrew, but the lawsuit was the first time she has directly confronted the queen’s son in such a formal setting.
The case alleges that Andrew engaged in sexual acts without her consent, knowing how old she was and “that she was a sex-trafficking victim,” the BBC reported. The case noted that the “extreme and outrageous conduct” continues to cause Giuffre “significant emotional and psychological distress and harm.”
“In this country no person, whether president or prince, is above the law, and no person, no matter how powerless or vulnerable, can be deprived of the law’s protection,” the documents read, as quoted by the outlet.
“Twenty years ago Prince Andrew’s wealth, power, position, and connections enabled him to abuse a frightened, vulnerable child with no one there to protect her,” the documents continued. “It is long past the time for him to be held to account.”
In a statement sent to Fox News, Giuffre said she wanted to hold Andrew “accountable.”
David Boies, representing several of Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged victims, center, arrives with Annie Farmer, right, and Virginia Giuffre, alleged victims of Jeffrey Epstein, second left, at federal court in New York, U.S., on Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2019. Epstein, a convicted pedophile, killed himself in prison earlier this month while awaiting trial on charges of conspiracy and trafficking minors for sex. (Mark Kauzlarich/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
“Today my attorney filed suit against Prince Andrew for sexual abuse under the Child Victims Act,” wrote Giuffre. “As the suit lays out in detail, I was trafficked to him and sexually abused by him.”
“I am holding Prince Andrew accountable for what he did to me,” she shared. “The powerful and rich are not exempt from being held responsible for their actions. I hope that other victims will see that it is possible not to live in silence and fear, but to reclaim one's life by speaking out and demanding justice.”
“I did not come to this decision lightly,” Giuffre continued. “As a mother and a wife, my family comes first – and I know that this action will subject me to further attacks by Prince Andrew and his surrogates – but I knew if I did not pursue this action, I would be letting them and victims everywhere down.”
A spokesperson for Buckingham Palace didn't immediately respond to Fox News' request for comment. The Palace has previously denied the allegations.
“It is emphatically denied that The Duke of York had any form of sexual contact or relationship with Virginia Roberts,” they have told Fox News. “Any claim to the contrary is false and without foundation.”
Royal Ascot Race Meeting Thursday – Ladies Day. Prince Andrew, The Duke Of York and Jeffrey Epstein (far right) At Ascot. With them are Edward (far left) and Caroline Stanley (in pink), the Earl and Countess of Derby. (Photo by Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images )
The statement continued: “The Duke of York unequivocally regrets his ill-judged association with Jeffrey Epstein. Epstein's suicide left many unanswered questions, particularly for his victims. The Duke deeply sympathizes with those affected who want some form of closure. It is his hope that, in time, they will be able to rebuild their lives. The Duke is willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations if required.
“The Duke has already stated that he did not see, witness or suspect any behavior of the sort that subsequently led to Jeffrey Epstein's arrest and conviction. He deplores the exploitation of any human being and would not condone, participate in, or encourage any such behavior.”
In late 2019, Andrew told BBC Newsnight that he never had sex with Giuffre, who was known as Virginia Roberts at the time.
“It didn't happen,” he stressed.
Andrew also alleged he had “no recollection” of ever meeting her and told an interviewer there are “a number of things that are wrong” about Giuffre's account, which alleges the encounter occurred in 2001.
Virginia Giuffre has long alleged she was abused by the Duke of York when she was underage. (Getty Images)
“I can absolutely categorically tell you it never happened,” Andrew said.
The interview was widely panned by critics who said Andrew seemed insensitive to Epstein's victims. Afterward, the prince stepped back from royal duties and has attempted to keep a low profile.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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